Happy Saturday! Before I commit myself to #momlyfe for the weekend, and while I am at my computer awaiting a few documents for a Saturday morning conference call (eee!), I wanted to share a guest post with you.
Fellow working mom Katie McBreen is a long distance friend. We actually have never met IRL, but I used to work with her twin sister so I feel like I know her and we are great insta friends online. Katie lives in Washington DC leading a busy life working as the VP of Communications & Public Affairs for the National Retail Federation and is mom to Kallan who turned one earlier this summer.
Katie recently published an article for LinkedIn titled 5 Things I learned in My First Year as A Working Mom which she has allowed me to repost here. Hope you enjoy!
5 Things I Learned in My First Year as Working Mom
My little girl recently turned one. I aspired to write this by her first birthday, but let’s get real — when you’re a mom you’ve got to prioritize, and this just didn’t make it to the top of the list. Now I’m finally ready to memorialize the incredible perspective this tiny human has brought to my professional life in just 12 short months (while she naps, of course).
Maternity Leave is Good for Everyone
I’m lucky to have a happy baby that likes to sleep, which translated into an enjoyable maternity leave. Almost two decades into my career, fast-paced since day one, I didn’t know how much I needed a “brain break.” The chance to focus on one thing, and one thing only, was incredibly cathartic in many ways.
The benefits of my absence also transferred to my work team: My direct reports got the opportunity to work more one-on-one with my boss and take on additional responsibilities that typically fall to me.The benefits of my absence also transferred to my work team: My direct reports got the opportunity to work more one-on-one with my boss and take on additional responsibilities that typically fall to me. My absence also removed a proverbial “safety net,” forcing them to trust their instincts and make decisions when they’d otherwise look to me for counsel. The time off not only refreshed my outlook on work; when I returned, the team was working at an even higher level of efficiency.
No Explanation Needed
It’s only normal to adjust your schedule after you have a baby. Not only did I need to because of childcare hours, I also wanted to spend more time with her. It’s common for women to feel like they should explain why they’re leaving early or coming in later than their colleagues — and it’s ridiculous. If you do your job and do it well, you don’t owe anyone an explanation except your boss. I’ve made a conscious effort to get up and leave when I need to, without any qualifications. It’s harder than you’d think; occasionally I’ll catch myself saying “I came in early” or “I’ll get back online after the baby goes to bed.” I’ve never heard my male colleagues do that. I shouldn’t do it either.
Diversity is Key
I didn’t know what it was like to be a working mom until I was one. It has provided me with an entirely new level of empathy and perspective that I didn’t have before, making me a better colleague and a better manager. Having people with diverse backgrounds and experiences in organizations — specifically in leadership positions — is important for creating a culture of understanding. Be it parenting, dealing with a medical issue or caring for another family member, life isn’t easy; having leadership that is sympathetic of these challenges can go a long way.
Take a Day
I’m a huge believer in vacation, but have never been one of those people to just take one day off — saving time for week-long trips has always been my modus operandi. But since having a baby I’ve found great satisfaction in taking just one day off to spend time with her. It also gives me freedom to do those things that are harder to fit in on the weekends. One thing’s for sure, I’m never going to look back on life and wish I’d worked more.
Mom Brain: It’s Real
The addition of one human to my life seems to have simultaneously removed hundreds, if not thousands, of brain cells from my head. Paired with the fact that having a child has brought a lot more stuff to think about, worry about and plan for, it means I must be even more organized at work — something I didn’t think possible. More than ever, I live and die by my Outlook calendar, using it for both personal and professional appointments. A notebook and to-do list are my constant companion, and the Wunderlist app is a must-have for sharing personal lists with my husband.
Being a mom, whether you work outside the home or not, is challenging in the most mind-altering and joy-filled way, and I’ve learned a lot in this first year. The arrival of our child has given me unparalleled clarity about what’s important in life and has made me not just a better mom, but a better manager and colleague as well.
Thank you for letting me share Katie. And contrary to popular belief, I for one done actually believe in 'mom brain'. But that's coming from a person who has been disorganized and her whole life!