When I went back to work after being on maternity leave, it felt like everything had changed but nothing had changed. I'm not going to sugar coat it: for me, it was hard being a working mom. I had the same responsibilities and deadlines that existed before the baby, the same commute — the same everything. But now, I also had the sleepless nights due to a teething baby, or my baby had unexplained diarrhea that I worried about all day while I was away from her, or I was getting phone calls from her daycare provider telling me that she hadn’t eaten and hadn’t napped.
Trying to function the way I had before kids was nearly impossible.
Fortunately, I worked for a company that was incredibly supportive of my situation. My boss handled interruptions in my schedule like, well, a boss (despite not being a mother herself; she was just awesome). The company allowed me time every day to pump breastmilk in a private room that wasn’t a broom closet, and occasional tardiness due to child-related issues was taken in stride. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive work environment. The truth is, the majority of my colleagues didn’t have children of their own. Some were still in college, others were childless by choice, but they all did little things that made me feel more comfortable and supported once I had a baby in my life.
I'm not trying to assert that everyone who works with a parent should, like, go out of their way to treat them differently or make special concessions, but the fact is, we're all more than workers — we're people. Actual human beings. And while various aspects of your unique lifestyle and identity shouldn't necessarily inform how well you perform your job, they do, unmistakably, inform absolutely everything else.
So if you feel like treating your colleagues according to nothing more than the "work" part of their identity, I'm sure that's totally fine. You'll obviously still be professional, respectful, and courteous. But if you feel like going beyond that, and actually engaging with their full, human selves while sharing space for nine hours a day, try a few of these tips: