Guest Commentator: Jessica Schmitz, Senior Advisor, Financial Development Program, Cigna
How do you succeed in the workplace while starting a family?
Many young professionals enter the workforce enthusiastic, working long hours at the office, attending every extra-curricular activity, and asking for travel assignments that will allow them to get ahead while seeing the world. This perfectly described me until I had my first child in 2017. After returning to work, I’ve continued to grow professionally but life has changed quite a bit. After having a baby, many of us continue to expect perfection at work and at home, but the dynamics change. The words “perfection” and “children” do not pair well. This topic is more widely discussed among women, but this is a gender neutral discussion. We all want to be present for our family as we continue to climb the corporate ladder. Returning to the workplace as a parent, I had to find new ways to succeed without feeling that I was missing out at home.
Outline your values
Take time to consider what is most important to you. Write down your values and align your personal/professional goals with your values so they do not conflict with one another. As your life changes over the years, so should your values and goals.
Work for a company that you believe in
If your company’s mission aligns with your values, you are more likely to stay engaged and less likely to resent missing time with your family to be at work. If you’re excited about your field of work, you will stay enthusiastic. Company culture also goes a long way in making you feel at home when you are at work.
Commit your time intentionally
Be more intentional with your time. Choose a professional organization that aligns with your goals, choose a nonprofit organization that supports your passion and commit less time, but make a larger impact with the time that you’ve committed. You’ve recently founded a new organization and it requires your attention too!
Network with other parents
Continue to build your network and be sure that it includes professionals that are starting families and that have already raised families. Compare notes with them and you will be relieved to find that you are not alone!
Be transparent – Communication is key!
If you have to take your baby to the doctor or leave at 5pm to pick up the kids, let your team know. Don’t let people assume you’re slacking off. Let your manager know that if you log off at 5pm, you’re happy to log back on after bedtime to finish the job.
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself; nobody is perfect!
I am currently on maternity leave with our second child and was hesitant to write this blog before going back to work but I recently attended a YPC networking event and realized that many of our members are tackling this challenge for the first time. The sooner we can engage with one another about the challenges facing parents in the workplace, the more we will all benefit. We aren’t the first to tackle parenting and we certainly won’t be the last!