I did not have kids to inconvenience you…
Making the transition from dedicated employee to expecting parent can be a roller coaster of emotions – for a lot of people in your life. Even some people you wouldn’t expect. Where you were once willing and able to work long hours, you now find your pregnant-self clocking every possible extra minute in the sheets and forgoing food on your lunch hour in search of a place to nap. Now I’m not saying that every expecting parent (particularly moms) aren’t capable of handling their former work load, but for some that most definitely is the case. We live in a go-go-go society, where when your coworker calls in sick you find yourself sighing in complaint at the slack you’ll need to pick up, rather than sending well wishes. And in such an environment there’s often a lack of understanding of the physical and mental toll parents go through during the turbulent nine months of pregnancy. If you find yourself working for someone who’s been through the journey of pregnancy or parenthood you might find a little more understanding and empathy. But for some bosses, pregnancy and maternity leave just scream “more work for me.”
I didn’t mean to be late for that morning meeting…
You’ve completed your glorious maternity leave, where you were able to soak up every single minute with that adorable babe. And now the day has come to return to work (or for dads this day may have come sooner). So, you dust off your pumps and blow dry your hair – just like you did pre-baby. But you still have a baby. A baby who maybe didn’t sleep well that night. Who needs to be feed, cleaned, dressed and dropped off before those pumps can carry you to the office. And baby does not care that you spent 20 minutes ironing your dress flawlessly – so when the pee, the poop, the food flies it’s almost certainly headed your way. And so, despite the best-laid schedule, plan and intentions, you find yourself running late – again.
No job or task will ever have 100% of my focus again…
I get it – you are still working and you are still an employee who is responsible for completing their tasks on-time and well. But you’re also a parent. And life with children is unpredictable. Kids get sick, day cares close and childcare falls through. You sat down at your desk, crafted your plan of attack for the day and BAM. The daycare calls. Your wee one has a slight temperature and can’t stay there. Your spouse is out of town, farther away, in a meeting – whatever, and the pick-up falls to you – again. Your first thought is obviously for the health and well-being of your babe. But I think most working parents would agree that a close second thought is, “How is this going to look to everyone else?” You fly to pick up your babe, rush home, and plop down at your computer to catch up on what you missed – but neither your job nor your child is getting 100% of your attention and that is super hard to deal with.
I wish I could stay after 5 p.m….
The team’s going out for drinks. The meeting ran long. There’s a networking event. Whatever it might be in your line of work, chances are you don’t want to miss out. Whether for fun or appearances, it’s never a good idea to remain out of sight too long. Absence does not make the heart of a boss grow fonder. But you know that your young ones hit the hay about 7 or 7:30 (on the advice of your sleep coach;)) and staying out late means missing your chance to tuck them in, say goodnight or maybe even see them at all that day, depending on your situation. So, what’s a parent to do?
And in today’s connected society, neither does being an employee. It’s nearly impossible to juggle it all and not feel like you’re missing out in one area or another. I heard a really great term – 2017’s replacement for work-life “balance” – and that’s work-life “blend.” The understanding that the era of a 9-5 job and home to family-time is not the reality. But also, the acceptance that employees have obligations, families and appointments that bleed into work hours. Rather than hating on the rigid boundaries of work and home life, isn’t it time that we encourage a space where parents and employees have the flexibility to be committed and successful in both roles? All praise the work-life “blend!”
If only your boss knew.