Mom to Windsor
Talent Acquisition Branding & Social Engagement, Program Manager
Length of maternity leave: 12-weeks
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
Just like many new moms, I was anxious, nervous, excited and basically every other feeling in the world, to get back to work. After my 12 weeks of maternity leave, I felt ready. However, at week 10 and at week 11 of my maternity, I totally wasn't ready. I swear, something just clicked when that clock hit 12 weeks and I felt good. Before my maternity leave ended, my husband and I were still trying to figure out childcare for Windsor, our almost 12 week old son. We had planned to find a nanny, but the search was proving difficult at first. Then, we thought, "okay, we have to do a daycare," and then, go figure, things were full for six months to a year in advance. I think finding the perfect care for Win gave me the most anxiety. Until that was done I wasn't ready to go back to work. Luckily, for me, I had a very smooth transition back to work. I stayed in contact with my boss over my maternity leave & he kept me in the loop, but never requested for me to "work at home." So, I didn't feel like I had just missed 12 weeks. They set me up for success and I was ready to hit the ground running. I also had some other moms at work who gave me the low-down on the pumping room and gave me some pep talks to help manage my feelings heading back to work. Not going to lie, I cried on my way to work the first day. Luckily, my drive is literally 7 minutes, so it wasn't too long. :) I've had a really positive experience returning back to work. I love my job and my company - and I love the challenges I get to tackle at work every day. For me to feel "whole" I needed to get back to work & start my new life as a working mom.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
Can I answer - EVERYTHING? :) I don't necessarily consider a "challenge" to be a bad thing. It's just something that tests me a bit & puts me on my toes. So, being a working mom does that to you every day. The one thing that has been VERY challenging for me is being a pumping mom in a working mom world. We have a mother's room at my work, however, finding time to use it is so tough with my schedule. I have a very fast-paced job. I can't say that I'll pump every day at 11am and 3pm for exactly 30 minutes. Sometimes, I have meetings the entire day and I have to be wise about when I get my pump sessions in. I went through some weeks where I was in a lot of pain because I wasn't pumping like I should. SO - I tackled that challenge and make sure that I make time to pump. I've also learned that if I pump at work with my headset on while on a call, the people on the other side can't hear it. SCORE! Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. :) I'm also very open about pumping & about everything that is necessary for me to be successful at work and at home. So, that means making sure I have enough milk to feed my baby!
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
I enjoy my version of work-life integration as a working mom. My company is very supportive and encourages me to do what I need to do to be my best. If that means leaving at 4:00pm each day to get home and be with my son for a bit before he goes to bed, then so be it. My company trusts that I will still get everything done (and more), but my schedule might not look as traditional anymore. If anything, I feel like I am able to get even MORE done than I ever have before. I'm willing to get up at 5:00am, pump and tackle about an hours worth of work before my son gets up. Pre-baby would I have ever done that - NO WAY! But now I know how to balance my time and I know how important dedicating time to BOTH my work and family is. Also, as crazy as it sounds, I enjoy having time to be at work & not always at home. I love my son to pieces and I miss watching him grow each and every day, 24/7, but I enjoy being at work. I get to challenge myself every day. I get to help other working moms get through their journey. In the end, I hope someday Win sees how freaking hard I worked & that his mom is awesome. Not that his dad isn't awesome too, but I want him to see how strong women can be at home or at work.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
Totally. I understood previously that working parents needed to have flexible environments to work their best, but now experiencing it first hand, I REALLY see how true that is. If anything, becoming a working mom has caused me to take a step back MANY times and say - "how the heck does every parent at this company do this?!" :) There are days when we have to go to a number of appointments for my son, but then I also have to find a way to still do my work and get everything done. There are days when he's sick and at our house with our nanny. I know he's being taken care of, but my mind is going NON STOP thinking about him. We all know how much a baby can take over your brain! Something that has stayed the same for me is how I view myself as a mom and working woman. I knew that I wanted to continue working when I had a child. Well, that didn't change. I know that I love to work full-time. As long as I can provide the best childcare for my son, then I feel very comfortable and happy being a working mom.
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'm not sure there is something I "wish" I did because I feel very happy and content with every decision myself and my husband made. If anything, I would support and reinforce things to my past self - and to other working moms. Be open - talk about your story. Tell your story of being a working mom to the world. Show your story. Just be you. I work in employer branding at my company. As part of this, I look to tell the story of my company's culture through the eyes and words of our employees. I encourage them to share their stories, so that prospective employees can learn more about what makes the place they work so great. So - I practice what I preach. Since returning to work (and even during my maternity leave), I also aimed to show and tell the "realness" behind motherhood and being a working mom. Shoot, I've told my story of being a pumping mom at work - pictures and all to prove it. I think it's important that we all continue to have the conversations surrounding working moms (and dads). We need to discuss why it's important companies support working parents (flexibility, understanding, etc). Every time I have shared my story with others (especially on LinkedIn), I've received a number of messages from working moms, at my company and not, who really felt like they weren't alone. Because you know what, we all aren't alone & we know that. However, we can feel like that because some people don't like to share their stories & that's okay. But for people that are willing to, we need to help be a voice for those that can't.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
We hired a nanny when Win was 12 weeks. She's actually leaving us this summer because she is having a baby of her own! So, we are looking for another nanny. Then, when Win is 1.5 years old, we're enrolling him in a daycare academy.
Childcare was THE MOST STRESSFUL thing for my husband and I (or maybe it's just me as a crazy mom). :) My husband and I are originally from PA and all of our family lives back there. So, we couldn't rely on family to drop everything and help us take care of Win. When I was pregnant, I decided on a nanny because our friends had a great experience with theirs. After giving birth, I was still all about it, but it was difficult to find a reliable nanny. Half of the interviews we set up, the nanny just never showed or canceled immediately before. How could I rely on someone who already wasn't reliable? We ended up finding a GREAT nanny who comes to our house each day and takes care of Win. They go to the library, do crafts, go outside - he seriously has the best time ever. It's also nice because she helps us around the house - does Win's laundry, puts away dishes, plays with our dogs, organizes Win's room. Little things like that make a big difference. It can still be difficult with a nanny when it comes to schedule. If there is something that comes up on her end, then she can't come that day. We told her that if she ever has to miss because she's sick, has an appointment, etc. to just let us know. We will ALWAYS think of Win first - so if we have to flex our schedule to make sure he is taken care of, we will do that without even questioning it. Our nanny is actually leaving us this summer to have her own child! We're going to miss her and the bond she shares with Win. However, Win will be older than and we feel a lot more comfortable putting him in a daycare at 1 / 1.5 years old, rather than at 12 weeks. So, we will be enrolling him in a daycare later this year. And man, looking at daycares is HARD. I was definitely being a picky mom picturing my little boy at these places. Some were just down right horrible (to me). Luckily, we found one that felt just right & we're on the wait list! (fyi, wait lists are SOOOOO LONG.)
Anything else you'd like to share?
I figured I would share the link to my LinkedIn profile here. I am always sharing my thoughts, experiences and insights into my life as a working mom there. I show photos of me working while holding baby, talk about my pump experience & I also talk about employers' responsibilities when it comes to working moms. I think conversations about being a working mom don't happen as often as they should on LinkedIn - aka any professional networking site. These conversations typically happen on more personal channels. If any moms ever wanted to connect professionally (and personally), I am up for it. https://www.linkedin.com/in/cheyenneforan/