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Perspectives: The collision of motherhood and work
New moms juggle a lot.
Note: I started this newsletter back in 2021 as a way to share stories and commentary on modern work, the future of work, and why work sucks. And have been writing bi-weekly ever since.
I try to provide a mix of my own stories and examples/stats from the news. Sometimes I refer to the experiences of others. My network is large and I’ve heard horror stories about employers and working conditions.
Now, about 18 months into this newsletter, I want to bring something new: perspectives from other people. More than a passing example in my own essays, these will be direct examples either submitted by someone in their own words, or from an interview I’ve conducted with the person.
My goal has always been 1) to help people with the ability to enact change rethink the workplace and 2) to let employees in crappy work environments know they are not alone. Better work is out there. Sharing stories from other people — bringing in ideas other than my own — furthers this goal.
Because bosses and companies often hold the power, these stories will often be under a pseudonym with some of the details about the employer modified or masked.
This week’s story comes from Miranda, a video marketer living in the New England area of the U.S. She works remotely for her employer. This story has been lightly edited.
I want to begin by recognizing that I come from a place of enormous privilege. Many new parents don’t have access to the systems and support that I do, which is particularly alarming when I consider how many times I’ve felt desperate and burned out.
I gave birth to my son in August of 2020. There were no Covid vaccines yet. A few months prior, we were still scrubbing our groceries. I pushed with a mask on, and narrowly missed having to give birth for the first time without my partner in the room.
The oxytocin worked its magic, I fell completely in love, and we thankfully settled into a comfortable three-month family leave. Visitors came to our house and waved at our son through a window. Oh, the joys.
My sister manages a large global team at an advertising company, and she’s always told me that she loves hiring new moms, because they are “ruthlessly efficient.”
In my own experience, I’ve found this to be true. Perfectionism, and (let’s be honest), wasting time at work, was pretty much thrown out the window when my son came along.
Hemming and hawing over a small inconsequential decision? No time for that.
Politely sticking around in meetings that could have been emails? Nope. I’ve got shit to finish.
Accepting orders for 10X EVERYTHING with no clear strategy or direction? Giant red flashing nope.
I have way less time to BS and appease. I have way more confidence to ask critical questions and execute on work that actually makes a difference. With my new parental lenses on, I can see so much more inefficiency in workplaces. Since giving birth to my son, I’ve become very comfortable with setting boundaries and stating my needs clearly and confidently.
Two-year-olds in daycare get sick. A lot. They also have doctor’s appointments. And birthdays. And summer schedules. And weeks when daycare is closed. And and and.
If companies expect a working person’s schedule to remain the same after adding a new child into the equation, they need to do some serious reflection.
The best things they can give a new parent in the workplace are a flexible schedule, and some increased understanding, trust, and recognition.
“Daycare just called and my son’s running a fever. I need to go pick him up.”
If you manage a new parent, get used to messages like that. There will be a lot of them. In fact, just expect them every month or so. Will they be inconvenient at times? Yup. Will that new parent feel stressed about this inconvenience? Yup. Will they jump on their laptop to finish something up once their child is asleep? Probably.
New parents rarely feel like they’re “getting it right.” In fact, it often felt like we were “doing it wrong” in most areas. A little recognition goes a long way.
My perspective: Remote work is 10000% necessary for new parents. It can be the difference between feeling like “I can do this” and the brink of insanity. Kids — and babies in particular — are unpredictable. And until you’re a parent, you have NO idea.
Companies that demand a hybrid work schedule need to be wary of face-time bias: favoring people in the office over people who opt to work remotely. Otherwise, remote work becomes one more hurdle that women in the workplace have to fight.
This publication is free because I love sharing ideas and connecting with others about the future of work. If you want to support me as a writer, you can buy me a coffee.
You can also follow me on LinkedIn for more insights about work, or on Twitter for spicier takes, and Medium where I write about fun stuff like productivity and creativity. Or catch up on the personal side of my life on my blog.
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