by Ebony Stonewall-James
September 22, 2022
Parenthood can be one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs. Becoming a parent is a blessing, but some may feel it’s a curse when juggling their career. Has society dismissed parenthood as a secondary job after our 9-5? This is where one must question if their employer prioritizes family life before the deadlines, reports, and countless meetings. If you are a parent, do you feel that your personal and professional life align? Here at Pinnacle HR Consulting, LLC (“Pinnacle HR”), we believe that work and life should never compromise each other.
As the mother of two young sons, I started questioning how I could juggle motherhood and my career when I had my second child in June 2022. But, honestly, I should have never used the term “juggle.” It should always feel aligned and effortless. According to www.dictonary.com, Juggle [juhg-uhl] is 1. To hold, catch, carry, or balance precariously; almost drop and then catch hold again. 2. To manage or alternate the requirements of (two or more tasks, responsibilities, activities, etc.) so as to handle each adequately. Sounds a little stressful, right?
At Pinnacle HR:
We have been virtual since our start in 2011.
Our primary communication tools are e-mail, phone, MS Teams & Microsoft SharePoint.
We keep meetings to a minimum.
The Daily Fight in Traffic
Leaving home in the wee hours of the morning to fight through traffic and find parking is one of the main reasons that I find working from home so attractive. There is less stress and anxiety to come to work at your fullest potential. I used to drive an hour each day to daycare and work, and after an 8-hour day, fight through traffic and drive an hour back home. I would bond with my son behind the wheel in traffic. Upon arriving home, I instantly bathed, fed, and put him to bed in preparation to do it all over again the next day. It was insanity. For those in two-parent homes, you could be the one getting off work later and risk missing that sacred bedtime. What a bummer! For those who have the pleasure of working remotely, when was the last time you filled up your gas tank? Isn’t it nice despite the gas prices?
Military Families and Spouses
As a military brat, I witnessed extreme relocations all my life. My father served in the US Army, while my mother attempted to maintain her career despite the demands of his job. Out of his 22 years of serving, she could never keep a steady job. Remote work is highly preferred for professionals who are married to military personnel. It provides an opportunity to maintain a source of income while being a spouse or parent.
Let’s Talk About It
Maintaining communication via e-mail, phone, and other digital sources like MS Teams, Slack, and Google Chat has been effective for many. However, I remember communicating in the physical office with those lengthy and sometimes “off the subject” conversations that went on a tangent. Sure, it may have increased some morale between coworkers, but it also ate up productivity time. With digital communication, there is ample time to share files and work effectively with increased productivity and performance while maintaining collegial rapport with co-workers.
Too Many Meetings
Do you enjoy meetings? Are they the best use of everyone’s time? There are times when collaborating in a meeting may be necessary. Still, there are so many creative ways to collaborate electronically. The daily interactions parents have with others regarding their children can include doctor’s appointments, PTA Meetings, Parent-Teacher Conferences, extracurricular activities, and neighborhood playdates, among many others. Why on Earth would I want to add another meeting to my day that could have easily been an email? I’ve found “Team Update” memos to be sufficient. A one-page draft of weekly updates to keep everyone on your team in sync is perfect! The best part: no one has to take notes or get camera-ready. Meetings are meant to be productive, deliver a clear objective and finish on time. I found keeping meetings at a minimum or having none to be extremely helpful and respectful of my time.
A Parent-Friendly Workplace
Overall, when looking at the policies in place at your employer, are they designed to set you up for success? Other ways to ensure that your employer allows you to not just juggle parenthood and your career but to simply allow you to coexist in both effortlessly are:
Hybrid work, if not fully remote, or a creative work schedule.
ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) create a safe space to communicate and share ideas and resources.
Offer dedicated support programs (assistance with prepared meals, childcare, etc.).
Mental Health Paid Time Off (PTO) or Flex Leave.
Lactation area for breastfeeding mothers.
Paid Paternal Leave.
Leadership with empathy.
Remote or hybrid work are not options for every job, profession, or industry. However, employers who can offer flexible schedules and remote or hybrid work should consider doing so for many reasons.
This blog article focuses on how more flexible work options help parents manage their families and career. A parent-friendly workplace benefits everyone! Parents are integral to the workforce and should not have to juggle. Creating an environment that supports the complexities of working parents encourages them to do their best work. More importantly, parent-friendly environments naturally provide opportunities for working parents to excel and flourish in their careers.
Ebony Stonewall-James is the proud and loving mother of two sons and a Human Resources Administrative Assistant at Pinnacle HR Consulting, LLC. Ebony works four days a week and works each of those four days from home.