As working moms we all face different work atmospheres, from working at home, to working behind a desk, and on the road and we all experience different levels of workplace support. I can’t say I receive zero support as a mom, but I can’t say it’s overwhelming either. So what does a working mom do when she works in a less than supportive environment? Here a few tips that have made it easier on me.
1. Be up front with your boss. Have an open dialogue with your boss about your parenting situation. With my Husband’s hours and business situation, I often have to be the one to bow out of work because I’m the one with paid sick leave, and my boss is fully aware. Making sure your boss knows your situation can go a long way.
2. Don’t always be the first one out the door. I know. It can be hard to wait to get back to your little one and family, but the top dogs are rarely arriving late and leaving early. Even if you only take 5 to 10 minutes to prep for the next day and then head out, sometimes it just matters not to be seen heading to the parking lot at 4:59.
3. Find someone to talk to, but don’t be a gossip. It’s important in any workplace to have someone who is sounding board and support for you. But don’t let it go to far, gossip wastes to much time and energy. And make sure to return the favor, we all have work complaints, listen just as much as you vent.
4. Say yes, and say no. Not long ago I was asked to head up a new project, it took a lot of extra work on my part, extra hours including weekends. Now that it is off and running, I’ve stepped back. While I was more than happy to put in the extra work to get the ball rolling, it wasn’t something I could handle long term. I made sure my co-workers knew that up front, and still offer assistance when I can.
5. Look for small ways to go the extra mile. There are times I need to be away from my desk for a longer lunch hour and running personal errands, so when it’s appropriate I forward my office phone to my cell. Ideal? No, but it keeps my calls from being forwarded on to my already busy boss. Returning emails when I’m home with a sick boy, and touching base with the office on an unexpected day out go a long way.
6. Know when to leave the personal just that, personal. Don’t bring the family drama in the office. Have a bad time getting out the door? Mad at the Mister? Not everyone in your building needs to know. It makes you look unprofessional. Besides, office politics often come with too much drama of their own.
7. Know your workplace rights. Knowledge is power. Knowing the policies of your office, along with state and federal government laws and mandates is important. If I knew then what I knew now, my breastfeeding experience would have been very different.
Overall, motherhood has changed how I view my job and how I do my job.
What about you? Are you in a workplace where it is seen as a hindrance to be a mom? How do you handle the challenges your workplace gives in those situations?
Carole lives a life surrounded by water as a marine biologist married to a fisherman. Their greatest catch to date is their son Allan, who fills the house with laughter, way too many trains, and causes trouble with his sidekick, Sandy Dog. Nestled in a secluded part of NC, they comb the beaches soaking up the sand and salt. She talks about the high seas of life over at Surf Momma and tweets as @SurfMommaBlog.