Alia

Mom to Harrison, Teddy & Rosalie

Vice President, Industry Lead

Length of maternity leave: 14-weeks

Childcare: Nanny


What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?


Coming back to work after three separate maternity leaves meant that I had some experience to draw on by the third time, but it didn't necessarily make the first day or week back any easier. Coming back to work after my first baby was so hard for me... I actually hadn't left him at all for the first two months - even to take a walk in the neighborhood or with my husband. Looking back I realize I was probably managing some post-partum stuff by being constantly "in control" and I didn't actually know it. The first time I left the house alone after he was born, I went to the library by myself on week 8 of maternity leave and cried to some poor unsuspecting lady in the parking lot "I just left my baby at home" ....I was a wreck, and she was very sympathetic even though I probably sounded like a lunatic. I am incredibly empathetic to women who only get 6 or 8 weeks of leave because I know how fragile I still was at that point in my leave. Somehow after I went out by myself that first time it got easier and I managed to get it together and go back to work at 14 weeks (there was a time in there that I thought NO WAY can I do that...!). I felt so lucky to have a few extra weeks beyond the standard 10 or 12 that many of my friends were getting....I do think 14 (or more) weeks gives a Mom such a better head start at being a fully functioning human upon re-entry. With my second and third kids, I knew what to expect and I had a plan....but that first day and that first week was always awful, every time. I always try to keep an eye out for first-time moms coming back to work that first day b/c I can remember just bawling at my desk, hunched over my keyboard with a completely broken heart. It really is crazy how quickly it gets easier though - even day 2 is exponentially better than the first day....you just have to make it through!



What do you find difficult about being a working parent?


The challenging part for me is just making sure I'm enough for everybody and that nothing falls too far out of balance. The scales definitely tip to one side or the other pretty frequently, and I struggle with not feeling like something or someone is being neglected. There are things that I've missed -- whether it's missing a work event for a family event or missing a family event for a work event....making those choices and weighing the impact of them on your family and on your career is the hardest part. Also....owning the choice once you've made it and not incessantly running it over in your head again and again and wondering if it was the right choice, but moving forward from there.


What do you enjoy about being a working parent?


I love being a working Mom and I wouldn't be a very good stay at home Mom....Working allows me to have space to myself to think and lead and create positive impact where people are generally receptive and don't throw temper tantrums because I brought them the wrong color shoes. I thrive on achievement and accomplishment and I don't know if I could figure out how to construct that for myself if I were at home all day (you just did 47 loads of laundry, you get a raise! Welcome to the Dishwasher Emptying President's Club!). I'm a social person and I need adult company to feel sane and whole....I'm a better Mom because I work and hopefully a better and more empathetic employee and manager because I'm a Mom.




After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?


I think I have finally, finally gotten to the point where I can honestly say I don't need everything to happen in a linear, upward trajectory within my career. Over the past three years I've had different roles and different sized teams reporting into me and different levels of responsibility, and I'm at peace with the fact that I'm not necessarily charging upward/onward to the next, bigger job with every single career move. It's okay to pass up a promotion, or to take a lateral move or a smaller job if it fits with your life and your priorities. I've also met so many cool women who have taken time off or stepped back and then stepped UP and IN after a break or a change, and that's been so helpful to see. I'm in this for the long game and I do think you can do it "all" ....just in due time and not all at once.



Knowing what you know now, what’s one thing you wish you could go back in time and tell yourself as you were preparing to return to work or getting ramped up in your role?


I would have told myself to trust in myself and have faith that I can do this. I would have looked around at all the amazing women I know who are DOING THIS and reminded myself that the little stuff doesn't matter. I would probably have chilled out on my incessant need to nurse/pump for all three kids for a year each.... a little formula would have been fine for them and probably made my life less stressful. I would have given myself more love and hugs and pats on the back, because this is some hard stuff. I think overall, I would just have told myself to relax a little more.


What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?


We've had a nanny since the first time I went back to work with my oldest....it seems like the only way we can manage two crazy work schedules and all three kids. Initially we did a nanny-share when we just had the one, and then by the time my second came along, we asked her to come work for us full-time.


We don't have any local family so our awesome nanny is a critical part of being able to manage two jobs with travel. Her kids are older so she can come early and stay late when we need her for scheduling conflicts. The one con of having a nanny is that if she gets sick or needs time off, we don't have a backup plan....but there are so many pros that outweigh that for us. Being able to get out the door in the morning and not having to do a daycare drop-off is amazing, and walking in the door at night to all three kids is my favorite part of the day.


Anything else you'd like to share?


I love working with other Moms... I find that working Moms tend to be high-energy, low-drama, and highly efficient. There's an understanding that we're all here to do a killer job, but also that advertising is not a life and death situation. I'm so grateful that I've been supported by some really amazing women in my career, and also to have had the example of my own Mom growing up too - she is an OG bad-ass working Mom and was the first person to show me how well it could all be done.


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