Being a parent, not to mention a new parent, is hard. Things like colic, teething and your child’s first broken bone, can leave you feeling exhausted and helpless – and that is all before you step foot in the office.
I recently read Arik Hanson’s blog post that questions whether or not PR agencies are setting new parents up to fail. It’s a great question, and seeing as I have a 14-month-old at home, I felt I was in a good position to respond.
Jena and her adorable son, Luke
After a beautiful, crazy, whirlwind of a maternity leave, I returned back to my role as a senior account manager at SHIFT. It was extremely bittersweet. For three months, I was my son’s everything – morning, noon and night – and as much as I knew I would miss him like crazy (and napping during his naptime), I was ready to grow in the career I had worked so hard to create.
The stress of a working parent is real. The client demands never go away and you frequently feel stretched in ways you never thought possible. Adding a baby to the mix that you want to rush home to at the end of the day doesn’t help. But there is one thing I can confidently say:
SHIFT Communications welcomed me back with open arms, and has given me the flexibility to feel like I can make it all work and be a pretty great, working mom. Here is how I did it, and what you should consider to make the transition smooth:
Both before and after having your child, evaluate the role you want to play at your workplace.
It is hard to determine a game plan before your bundle of joy arrives, but it’s important to start thinking about ways to successfully transition back into the working world and strike the best work-life balance. Are you a night owl? Is your morning commute over an hour, even before factoring in a daycare drop off? Once you’ve taken into account your routine, and the routine of your baby (or lack thereof), it might make sense to discuss a schedule that allows you to come in to work early and leave early, to better meet the needs of your family.
Work with your Agency to further define that role and set up flex hours and/or work from home days in order to make it happen.
Having open and honest conversations about your dedication to the Agency while still maintaining a strong presence at home will pay off in the long run. If you are able to, make reasonable requests about how your role pre-baby can be altered to make everyone happy (both in the office and at home) and what that plan of attack looks like. It is important to create a strategy that outlines how your team can prepare for your new role and responsibilities and what that means for others to ensure clients are happy and work is completed.
Work with your team to ensure you’re able to fulfill your duties both to them and to your family.
Some options that PR agencies should evaluate for working parents include flexible schedules (7am-4pm), work-from-home days and 4-day work weeks. Technology like Microsoft’s Yammer and video conferencing capabilities also make it possible for employees to work virtually anywhere. Offering the right tools and being open to a non-traditional work week makes it possible for parents to eat dinner with their kids or make it to a little league game while covering all client deliverables.
There are always going to be the days or weeks that you feel like you can’t make everyone happy and that one side of the pendulum isn’t getting the love it should. You are not a superhero. You are a parent, and a PR practitioner, and agencies like SHIFT are changing with the times and are making it easier for individuals to grow and excel in both roles.
Senior Account Manager