For me, becoming a working mom brought to light an enormous amount of empathy: empathy for other working parents that I never fully understood, empathy for stay-at-home moms who are crushing it at home, and then conversely the desire for empathy in both my professional and personal relationships as a full-time working mother. Having so much passion for my professional career development while also having the desire to build an incredible home life for my family truly is two full-time jobs. As I've started this challenging journey, I’ve decided to share my story with the goal of being as transparent as possible to support working moms everywhere - saying the things that people never really talk about and giving a realistic view of what parents may be going through.
After growing up and attending college in Nebraska, I started my career in Kansas City but had always dreamed of living and working in San Francisco. I made this dream a reality and began growing my career in the Bay, holding several different roles in retail and ecommerce, starting at the bottom and working my way up. Not only was I growing my career, but I was also growing my family. We welcomed our first son four years ago as I was moving roles, taking maternity leave in-between.
When I was in my twenties, I would work hard and spend nights in the office hitting deadlines while preparing for presentations. Even if I got home late, I could get a good night’s sleep, wake up at 6:00am, and be fully rested and ready to go. When you bring a kid into that equation, and you have so much love and need to be there for them when you can, the ability to do the ‘above & beyond’ tasks at work can be challenging. There is suddenly a need to find time that you never would have considered (early mornings before kids wake up or late nights after they go to sleep) to achieve your professional goals.
After you have a child, your capacities are set to a completely different level. I quickly realized I didn’t have the time flexibility that I once had. While every parent is different, here are a few tactics I now use to balance my time between family and work:
- I somewhat have to compartmentalize my life in the sense that I have to ‘leave it at the door.’
- When I’m home, I am HOME. This time is for my kids and my husband. We sit down every night at the dinner table for dinner (no screen time). I play with my kids, ask my 4-year-old how his day went, what he learned, and what he did for fun at school. I do my best to give my husband a kiss every morning before he goes to work and ask him about his day too. This is my way of de-stressing and disconnecting from all the ‘work stuff’ to be super present for my family.
- When I’m working, I am working. You’re always thinking about your kids (there’s no turning that off), but finding a good school/nanny/childcare is invaluable to know that I can focus and feel assured my kids are in good hands.
- If I have a work idea during my family time, I write it down on my Trello board so I can quickly “forget” about it. If I need to do an evening sprint, I’ll log on after the kids go to bed.
On top of restructuring my daily productivity, I experienced new levels of sheer exhaustion. Especially on the heels of newborn baby phase where you are feeding, getting up 3x a night (every night) for months (unless you have one of those incredibly LUCKY babies who sleeps through the night), it inevitably takes a toll on your energy levels. I have always been someone who loved my sleep and felt like I needed that. Turns out… I didn’t. I discovered that within myself, I had an untapped capacity to do even more than I ever thought I could.
Early into my second pregnancy, it became clear to me that we needed a life change. We decided it was best to relocate our family – and we had our sights on Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha is a hidden gem. There’s a kind of miraculous balance between hip new neighborhoods and white picket fences. It’s really a magical place to raise a family and not feel like you are compromising your social life. Moving and starting a new life and a new career while being pregnant was challenging, not to mention packing was a chore to say the least! I was able to use the retail experience I had gained in San Francisco and joined Spreetail as Director of Vendor Management in February of 2021.
From the beginning, it was clear Spreetail had a family atmosphere. Not just human babies, but fur babies too! Whether or not you have kids, my team members seem to “get it” and Spreetail is very much supportive of family at any stage in your life. I think our unlimited time off policy for salaried employees says it all. As long as you’re getting your work done, it’s on you to manage your time and your career. So, if you want to go to that baseball game, or see your kids speak at school, you are free to do that. It’s very empowering.
When joining Spreetail, I also joined the Inclusion Network: Professional Women Rising. Especially as an adult moving to a new city and then coupled with joining a company during a pandemic, it felt like a great way to be surrounded by like-minded individuals and continue to learn and contribute to a ‘greater good.’ As a member I recognized a need to start a Working Moms Group. Back in San Francisco there was an incredible Moms group that spanned the county where I met some of my closest friends through shared experiences of being working moms and dealing/managing through that together. When I moved to Omaha, I couldn’t find something similar, but Spreetail has such an engaged community that I wanted to launch a group to give professional working mothers a forum to share experiences and create connections to support their career and personal goals.
The Working Moms group is still really new, but I’m hoping it provides an opportunity to create relationships that can span outside work or at least let moms know they aren’t alone. We are all on the same train and managing these crazy lives every day, so don't forget to:
- Be PROUD of yourself because what you do every single day is AMAZING. Seriously.
- Give yourself credit when credit is due.
- Take care of yourself and make ‘me’ time as often as you can. Whether it’s 15 minutes of your favorite show after the kids go to sleep, going out for a quiet coffee, or finding some girlfriend time - you have to prioritize that and don’t forget to keep yourself happy and healthy. Don’t let go of who YOU are.
- It’s hard to recognize in the moment, but the hardest times will turn into the most rewarding memories. Don’t sacrifice your career, you can do both and honestly be even more proud of yourself and everything you have accomplished. Your kids will also be proud of their mommy.
- Remember, maybe most importantly, to keep a sense of humor about it all! Having a good laugh instantly puts things into perspective.
As this group continues to develop, we would love to bring in guest speakers from women who have had extremely successful careers while balancing raising a family. We’re working on organizing virtual events then in the future would love to transition to in-person gatherings where we can highlight programming in the area that would be of interest to working moms such as after school activities. As we see success in this group, I picture subgroups forming – such as pregnant moms, new moms, second time moms, activity groups by interest, etc. This will allow our members to connect at a deeper level and have that real-time support.
There was a time when I felt like I had to hide my pregnancy because I didn’t want my boss to think I wasn’t committed to my job. I wore loose pants and big sweaters to hide my bump. Now looking back, I hope no one ever feels like they have to do that. I had to learn how to be strong and be my own best advocate, and now I hope to share and support other working moms who are experiencing similar challenges. It may not be easy (or pretty at times!) but we absolutely can do it all – and do it all without compromise.