The One Thing You Need To Know If You're Worried What Having A Baby Will Do To Your Career

By
Share
Ad failed to load

The pitiful state of family leave policies in the U.S. would have any working mom worried. Without guaranteed paid leave and, for companies with fewer than 50 employees, zero workplace accommodations required for nursing mothers, trying to maintain your career momentum once you have a kid is a considerable drain on financial, emotional and basic human resources. With barely any available subsidized childcare for working families, so many women opt out of their career because the economics don’t make sense when you’re working 40+ hours a week and most of that pay goes to someone to watch your child (not to mention that childcare workers are shockingly underpaid).

When I took maternity leave after the birth of my first baby, I didn’t realize it was never again going to be business as usual. I thought I could compartmentalize work and life, dedicating as much time as always to my job in TV production, and then simply giving up a few of the hours I spent socializing and working out in the evening to accommodate taking care of my baby. I mean, that’s what “working mother” life looked like from the outside. But once I was in it, the distinction between work and life was never clear.

Ad failed to load

I’m at work, and daycare calls: She’s bumped her head (but she’s OK); I’m nursing her before bed, and responding to emails on my phone; I jostle for office refrigerator real estate for my pumped milk; I squeeze in self-maintenance appointments during lunch hours because I feel too guilty missing any more time away from my kid just to get a haircut; I take red-eyes on business trips to minimize time spent away from my daughter during her waking hours; I bond with the other working moms at the office as we exchange droopy-eyed nods in the hallways.

I returned to my job 12 weeks after giving birth to my second child, on the dot. With two children, I doubled down on trying to have control — two nap schedules, two feeding schedules, two sets of daycare teachers — all while working full-time. I kept lists and notes and reminders and alarms. I had a work phone and a personal phone, plus office and apartment landlines. One person, two email addresses, four phone numbers. I thought all of this made me bulletproof as a mother and an employee; I could be reached by work at home, and at work my children’s caregivers could always find me. I was available, to everyone, 24/7 and isn’t that the pinnacle of what it means to be a working parent? Isn’t that having it all?

No, because when working parents make everything a priority, everybody loses.

Ad failed to load

Being a mom taught me the most valuable career lesson: to ruthlessly prioritize.

I can’t be all things to all people. So I have learned to assess the complicated world we live in, where work and life are enmeshed, and pay attention to those things that matter in the moment. There will be other moments, where other things will matter. It shifts, constantly.

The truth is, there is no work-life balance. That revelation is a relief.
Ad failed to load

We can stop trying to keep even footing in both our personal and professional spheres; we can favor one over the other at times. I can’t go on all my kids’ school trips, but I go on at least one a year for each of them. I opted for a position with more creative work that I love, than one that provided a higher salary and title, because I’d rather show my kids what I made, than how I managed others to make it. I don’t apologize to my kids for going to work, because my career fulfills a part of me they never can. And I never apologize for leaving early for parent-teacher conferences, though I do put coverage in place when I need to be out of the office.

The one thing you need to know if you’re worried what having a baby will do to your career, is that it will make you even better at your job.
Ad failed to load

No, seriously. Hear me out.

My prioritizing skills have improved, now that I have little humans who want, and deserve, my attention. I put time limits on how long I spend on tasks. Breastfeeding taught me that (anything longer than 45 minutes was going to be futile anyway). Likewise, keeping my sentences short, maintaining eye contact and speaking calmly (you know, like how you talk to a child) are parenting skills that have helped my workplace communication.

Typical work culture still reflects the outdated model of a male employee having a stay-at-home partner to tend to the needs and schedules of the kids they both made. One parent represented “work,” the other, “life.” But that world doesn’t exist any more. More moms — and dads — than ever are toggling between those two arenas. The more we are upfront about this to our bosses, the better the chances we have of changing work culture. The more our employers see how efficiently parents are at their jobs, so that we can have lives outside of them, the more they will help to build a fluid work environment. Everyone wins.

Ad failed to load

If you're worried about what having a kid will do to your career, the best thing you can do for yourself is work on expanding your idea of what a working life looks like. Don’t be afraid that a kid will slow your career down — but also don't be married to the idea of any part of your life looking a certain way. Motherhood is an asset, not a detriment, to professional life. More companies are recognizing that, thanks to working parents like us.

Images: blanketboat/Instagram; Courtesy of Liza Wyles(2)

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

8 Things That *Will* Go Wrong Every Time You Plan A Kid-Free Night

The last time my husband and I went out to dinner alone was… actually, I can’t remember. But I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen a movie in a theater in the last year. Before we had children we used to go out all the time. But even with …
By Liza Wyles

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack