Last Thursday was my last day at the communications marketing agency I was happy to call my “work home” for the past 4.5+ years. While I was sad to leave the smart and talented people I worked with, I am looking forward to fully dedicating myself to my passion project (growing the blog and writing), and more importantly, spending extra time with my daughter.
I’ve learned a lot during my time working in the corporate world and I’m so thankful for everyone’s support as I enter into this next chapter of my life. Although I’ll still be a working mom, I wanted to share some of my perspective and experience from my first year and a half juggling work and motherhood. I hope you’ll find my thoughts informative, comforting, and something you can relate to.
- Work Changes When You Become a Mom
This can stink at times, but it’s totally normal because you’re perspective on life changes, too. No matter what your title is or whether you’re in a corporate or nonprofit setting, work is different. You may find yourself less focused, reluctant to commit to late nights or early mornings, or having a hard time putting your whole heart into what you’re doing because a part of it is now at home. Unfortunately, I’ve also noticed being a mom makes it a little bit more difficult to climb the corporate ladder.
So, if you feel like you’re alone on this one, you’re not. And, it’s okay that your priorities have changed. Hang in there, you’ll get into your grove. The important thing is that you feel rewarded and recognized for the work you’re doing.
- You’re Always Setting an Example for Future Mothers
I’ll never forget when an intern told me how excited she was to hear that I was a part-time employee. She was so thrilled because it was something she’d dreamed of doing one day. It truly warmed my heart hearing her react this way because I always hoped that I could help other women recognize that flexibility in the workplace is possible.
Other women in the office (women with or without children) will always be looking to you to set standards and to be an example of what it’s like to be a working mother. Be a good example! Set boundaries, showcase how important work/life balance is, and express how much you enjoy balancing work and parenting. People will respect you for it!
- If You Want Flexibility, Ask for It
I didn’t hesitate at all when asking to come back part-time after maternity leave because it’s what I knew I wanted. I’m pretty proud of myself for being upfront about it and I think others were impressed that I had the guts to ask for flexibility, too. Luckily, it was in God’s plan and everything worked out, but if I wouldn’t have asked, it wouldn’t have happened.
If you’re looking for more flexibility, there’s no hurt in asking, and hopefully it can lead you to exactly what you want. The worst they can say is no, and if you’re still craving flexibility, find a new job. Tons of companies are finding ways to be more accommodating to working moms and the schedules they desire.* It’s definitely worth a shot.
- Never, Ever Burn Bridges
This is an obvious one for everyone in the workplace. No matter how upset you are in a work situation, try not to take it out on others or go out of your way to be rude. You never know where that person – or their brother’s wife, cousin, friend – will end up. That one person could someday be your connection to the job you’ve always wanted! If you leave in good spirits and on good terms, they’ll remember that.
On the same note, being kind trumps all. Everyone I worked with was talented, but the ones who went out of their way to be kind to others are the people I enjoyed working with most. The kind people were the ones who made a difference in my life and truly encouraged me to grow and that’s something I’ll never forget.
- It’s Okay to Slow Down
Just because your colleagues or all of your mom friends work five days a week, doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to do the same. The same goes for anyone feeling guilt for not wanting to be a stay-at-home mom. Both are tough, but you need to choose your own path and pace and do what works best for you and your family.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’ve learned being a working mom, or a stay-at-home mom. Please feel free to comment below!
*Speaking of companies trying to improve the landscape for working moms, Edelman has been leading the way for several years now. They continue to roll out new programs that provide flexibility and help working moms connect with each other: http://www.workingmother.com/edelman.