Flexible Work Arrangement – if you never ask, it will never happen

I just read a great post on NYTimes.com about how one mom achieves more balance (and efficiency) by starting work later and leaving for home earlier.  You may say, “Wow, where do I find that fantasy job?” or “Does she also commute to work on a unicorn?”  As unrealistic as it may seem, there are moms (and dads) out there who actually work a reduced work schedule.  It doesn’t happen for everyone but I do have to say that it will never happen for you if you don’t ask.

My son was four when I finally worked up the courage to let someone know that I’d like to reduce my hours to spend more time at home.  The proposition of him starting kindergarten and not being to pick him up from school and help with homework was really getting me down.  Luckily for me, on my new manager’s first day she asked about my career goals.  I figured it was now or never so I blurted out, “I’d like to reduce my hours.”  It seemed so bold and gutsy and it played in slow motion over and over in my head after I walked out of her office.  Had I just committed career suicide?

Read moreFlexible Work Arrangement – if you never ask, it will never happen

Are You Experienced? Weigh in on your maternity leave journey

Hey working moms.  Yeah, you.  I’m really interested to hear about your experiences before, during, and after your maternity leave.  I’ve set up a survey just for you.  Visit and tell me as little or as much as you’d like.

http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22E8V7VDB5S

Thanks for your support!

 

When Your Boss Won’t Flex…Find Someone Who Will

flexible work balanceI’ve heard countless stories of women, who when faced with the prospect of starting a family, became overcome with fear that having a baby would ruin their careers.  Not doubt, you too know of a family member or friend who stalled out at work because they were struggling with the juggle between work and home.  You may even know some employees who, even when knocking it out of the park with work performance, couldn’t move forward in their company because of their manager’s antiquated views of work life balance.

We are so lucky to be in today’s mom/work world.  Although there are great strides yet to be taken in terms of policies, benefits and treatment of women workers, there are new options out there that can give you hope.  One example of a innovative outlet for those seeking more workplace flexibility is Mom Corps.

Read moreWhen Your Boss Won’t Flex…Find Someone Who Will

Is Women’s Career Advice Just a Bunch of Bunk?

Meghan Casserly writes a great blog called Girl Friday at Forbes.com.  A recent post highlights the struggles that women have in advancing their careers, especially in light of the specialized advice they receive.  Learnings from the Catalyst study The Myth of the Ideal Worker show that although women engage in activities like mentoring, networking and actually asking for what they want, they still do not receive promotional opportunities on par with their male peers.

It’s actually quite depressing to hear.  It’s like saying I went on a diet, I did more exercise than the other guy, I even took some crazy weight loss pills that made me grow a beard and I’m  STILL 10 pounds overweight and he lost 20 without doing a thing!  Here’s my spin…It’s depressing if you want exactly what the other guy has.

Read moreIs Women’s Career Advice Just a Bunch of Bunk?

Poor Performer Because I’m Pregnant? What Your Boss Really Thinks

I’ve talked to a few women who fear that their pregnancy or new mother status will reflect poorly on their manager’s and coworkers’ views of their performance.  In general I see it coming up as a concern when a women perceives that people are treating her differently because she’s pregnant or is a new mom.

Although there are thousands of scenarios, this difference of treatment can usually be traced back to a few root causes:

  • Most frequently I see that managers and co-workers are concerned about offending the new mom and they get weirded out and act strange.  Sometime they walk on eggshells and keep their distance so they don’t say the wrong thing.  In particular I’ve seen that men who work with pregnant women can be unsure of what they can say.  To the new mom, this can come off as being excluded, shut out or even shunned.  I recommend that if the new mom feels comfortable, that she just break the ice and  help everyone she works with ease into this transition.  You’ll get it all out in the open and know for sure where you stand.
  • The managers and co-workers are jerks and really are treating her differently because she’s pregnant or a new mom.  Unfortunately this does happen but I wouldn’t jump to it as the first conclusion.   If you are comfortable, speak with your manager about the situation.  If that’s not an option, speaking confidentially with HR can help sort things out.
  • Sometimes the mother’s performance really has dipped because of the physical and mental demands on her.  Most managers are understanding of this temporary situation.  Initiate the conversation and you may find that there are opportunities to adjust your workload or schedule to help during this time.
  • And finally, there are some mothers who have checked out and unfortunately used the excuse of  “I’m pregnant” or “I’m a new mom” to let their performance slide.  These few moms may have ruined it for the rest of us and you want to be sure that you aren’t inadvertently becoming one of  “those employees”.  Ask a trusted co-worker for feedback on your performance.  Meet frequently with your manager for status updates and to get a clear understanding of their expectations and whether or not you’re meeting them.
You may find yourself in a situation where you feel like you’re being treated differently.  Think through your situation, talk it over with non-biased third parties and then determine what you want to do about it.
If you’ve been in this spot and have some words of wisdom, I’d love to hear from you.

 

First Business Trip Away from Baby – A Tale from the Road

Before having a baby, I must admit that I liked traveling for work.  I got to stay in nice hotels, eat in fancy restaurants, ride in town cars like a celebrity and could stay up as late as I wanted.  My husband and I both traveled from time to time and we both enjoyed the change of scenery while we were away from home.  I even took a trip when I was big and pregnant and felt no shame in using both the spa facilities and the pillow concierge at The Benjamin when I was in New York.  (They really do have a pillow concierge – here’s their pillow menu http://www.thebenjamin.com/PillowMenu.aspx)

But then, here comes this bundle of perfection who is dependent on me for his every need.  Not only has it been difficult leaving him for the day while I’m at work but I can only imagine it will be torture to be almost 1000 miles away!  Going cold turkey would have been unbearable so I am so glad that my husband and I had already traveled without little one.  We are blessed to have grandparents within driving distance who are retired and can keep him for extended periods.  We had been to Hawaii when our son was 12 months old so surely leaving him again for just a few days wouldn’t be a problem?!? WRONG!

Read moreFirst Business Trip Away from Baby – A Tale from the Road

First Day Back to Work – Tips to Reduce How Much It Will Suck – Part 2

I’m sure you were on pins and needles thinking “When is she going to post Part 2?”  Wait for it…. Ok, now.

Let’s pick up where we left off in Part 1.  Read it here http://is.gd/gwXGL1

Thank heavens for smart phones.   I’d recommend that you consolidate your work and home calendars if possible.   Seeing it all on your phone just makes things that much easier.  My husband and I even share one family calendar that we can both see and update through our family Yahoo! e-mail.  Merge your contacts too.  Merging contacts and calendars on your smart phone may be a little tricky if it’s paid for by your company and is really their property, not yours so check that out first.

Read moreFirst Day Back to Work – Tips to Reduce How Much It Will Suck – Part 2

First Day Back to Work – Tips to Reduce How Much It Will Suck – Part 1

Here’s another two-parter.  I’m trying to keep these short because as a mom, you probably have very limited time to read AND if you’re like me, you have the attention span of a gnat.

I’m not going to lie to you.  Your first day back to work from maternity leave is not going to be a super awesome experience.  However, you have to bite the bullet and go back at some point so what can you do to make it a little less horrible?

  1. Try it out first.  Hopefully you’ve already got child care set up.  It’s a good idea to have your child ease into it by beginning them to their caregiver a few days before your leave ends.  Most kids will not be so happy that you’re leaving them there.  If you talk to any caregiver they’ll tell you – your baby will eventually stop crying and you lingering around and prolonging the drama doesn’t help much.  You’ll feel like a jerk either way so just leave!  If you do a trial run, you’ll get some of this emotion out before you have to show up to the office.  Also, having your child at childcare for a few hours will help you get ready for work:  get a haircut, shop whatever clothes you need, etc.  Let me remind you once again… first time leaving the baby will stink, but, I’ve yet to hear my son say to me, “Mom, remember when I was a baby and you ruined my life by leaving me with a really nice lady and a bunch of fun baby friends?”

    Read moreFirst Day Back to Work – Tips to Reduce How Much It Will Suck – Part 1

What to Wear to Work – Pregnancy Can Be in Fashion

Let’s get real.  If you are a normal woman, you don’t have a celebrity stylist dressing you through your pregnancy.  In light of the length of time you will be wearing maternity clothes, you probably don’t want to spend a fortune building your pregnancy wardrobe.  Here are some tips to help you get through the six to nine months you’ll need to re-route your work wear.

In the first three months you will probably be able to sneak around in your regular clothes.  There’s the rubber band around the buttonhole and then wrapped around the button trick.  It can look pretty lumpy under a knit shirt so adjust your tops accordingly.  This will provide that crucial extra inch or two of breathing room.   There are also inserts that you can add into your pants that will give you a little more wiggle room.

Read moreWhat to Wear to Work – Pregnancy Can Be in Fashion

Who Asked You? Dealing With Unwanted Pregnancy Advice – Part 2

unwanted adviceI’m baaaaccckkkk.  In this post I’ll do Part 2 of  Dealing With Unwanted Pregnancy Advice.  Here’s the Part 1 post  https://www.maternityleavecoach.com/?p=165

It’s getting a little spicier in this post and we’ll walk through more assertive methods.

  1.   Get smart.  Do your research and you’ll find confidence that you are making the best choices.  You’ll be able to educate the other person along the way.  Of course,  YOU won’t be condescending  or rude when you educate others, right?

    Read moreWho Asked You? Dealing With Unwanted Pregnancy Advice – Part 2

Who Asked You? Dealing With Unwanted Advice During Pregnancy – Part 1

It usually comes along with a look of “you are so clueless about this baby in your belly” and it’s probably well intended.  But… it rarely is received in that way.  In talking with tons of moms I think that instead of those goofy shirts that say “baby” and have an arrow pointing to their belly, they might prefer a t-shirt that says “Who Asked You?”

Rude, I know but it’s how you start to feel after months of unsolicited advice.  So, you have some choices here – drop kick the next person who goes on about how you’re singlehandedly setting the Earth into a death spiral toward Armageddon by not using cloth diapers OR respond with grace and tact.

Here’s more on the grace and tact approach.  I’ll do this post in two parts, this one highlighting the more subtle approaches.

Read moreWho Asked You? Dealing With Unwanted Advice During Pregnancy – Part 1

Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You – Checking In with Work While You’re On Leave

You’re not alone if you’re thinking that being away from the office during your maternity leave will impact your job.  Quite a few women are so closely tied with their work that they can’t imagine being out of the hustle and bustle while they are home with their newborns.  Thinking that they’ll be able to juggle it all they sometimes commit to a lot more contact with work than they end up wanting.

That said, it’s a good idea to keep expectations low regarding how you’ll be checking in with the office.  Don’t make commitments about calling in every day or answering emails because you just don’t know how life will be until after the baby arrives.  Make sure that your level of communication doesn’t hook you into working on projects, working directly with clients or promising to deliver the results at the annual shareholder meeting. 

Read moreDon’t Call Me, I’ll Call You – Checking In with Work While You’re On Leave

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Online Tool for Moms

I was doing a bit of interwebbing today and ran across the Child Care Aware website.   They’ve got a helpful decision tool that walks you through questions to determine whether you should go back to work or stay home.   It also helps you:

  • consider critical areas of your lives impacted by child care decisions
  • Examine feelings regarding child care options
  • Seek the most appropriate resources and support for those choices

http://ccaapps.childcareaware.org/en/tools/decision_making_tool/index.php

The Letter of the Law

My hope is that for every pregnant woman out in the workplace there are caring, supportive managers and co-workers who are going to help make their transition to motherhood a beautiful one.  I’m an optimist and I generally think that most people have the best intentions and don’t plan on alienating others.   That said, I would recommend that expectant mothers keep in mind that sometimes other employees feel awkward that they are “with child” and some of the offensive behavior you experience may really be general weirdness and not true harassment.

Read moreThe Letter of the Law