Recently we raised the topic of "Shared Parental Leave" in the story Mind The Gap. Earlier this year, the UK government launched a campaign to encourage more parents to consider shared parental leave options, and they published commentary from three couples with experience; Kate and Dominic, Andy and Emma, and Tom and Christina.
Check out the short stories if you want to hear about their experiences.
Pointer to Poppy Harlow / RBG video clip
The RBG movie (and the review we wrote) got us thinking even more about spouses and the important roles they play in our careers. In fact, it caused me to head to YouTube to learn more about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband, Marty, who are portrayed as Working Parent trail blazers.
The search led to a February 2018 interview with Ruth by CNN's Poppy Harlow. Their exchange, during the interview introductions, revealed another story about a supportive spouse; Poppy's husband, Sinisa Babcic. Watch the first minute and a half min of the video to hear the story.
"Behind every great man there stands a woman" is a phrase I often heard growing up. It was stated as a compliment and recognized the value of a supportive spouse; always a wife back then. Many years later I find myself recognizing that there is a lot of truth in that statement; a great person or great people are often supporting people who achieve anything of value. Maybe some succeed against all odds and without any support, but the vast majority of us need somebody in our court; someone or someones who want to see us succeed, encourage us to strive for more, and are willing to make at least small sacrifices to help us achieve "great things". It's the reason we encourage people to establish relationships with mentors, coaches, managers and peers.
When one's spouse can act in a supporting role, one has an advantage. When a spouse can act in multiple supporting roles, one has an even bigger advantage. It's hard to find a story that makes this point more clearly than the RBG story, but many of us have stories to tell. We've collected quite a few of them hoping that they will inspire you. Enjoy!
More stories about supportive spouses:
Pointer to HBO's new Docu-Series Being Serena
Working moms on Reddit brought our attention to the new five-part Docu-Series on HBO* called Being Serena. The series chronicals the most recent events in Serena Williams' life; from winning the Australian Open while pregnant in April 2017 right up to attending the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
But it's the stuff in-between those events that is most interesting ... and inspiring ... and thought provoking ... and relatable.
For those who don't know, Serena is married to Alexis Ohanian, one of the co-founders of Reddit, so it's especially interesting that Reddit led us to this program. Talk about a synergistic relationship!
Working parents (both moms and dads) are likely to appreciate Serena's story and find themselves relating, thinking, and being inspired as they watch.
* It appears that Being Serena is also available via On Demand until early July. More info.
Submitted by "Mom2Boys"
I am not the mom who cries when dropping her kids off, but today, as I prepared to return to work after completing my parental leave, was a little different. Our baby had his first day at school with his “experienced” big brother.
I can't begin to tell you how much we absolutely love our kids’ teachers, which is why I was positive I wouldn't cry when I put them in such good hands. I was doing well, dry eyes and everything, until I turned to walk out of the infant room and saw my older son's concern for his little brother; he was peering through a window checking on his baby brother as I left the room. His big heart was so obvious, and I could see him caring about and being protective of his little brother. It made my mom heart want to burst, but instead my eyes welled with tears.
Later their teachers let me know that my older son insisted on visiting his baby brother multiple times throughout the day just to make sure he was adjusting well. I can’t imagine loving these boys any more and appreciate their caring teachers so much!
If you're planning to re-enter the workforce after an extended break, and you have kids that aren't newborns, it might help to consider the change from their point of view. Most kids find comfort in routine, so at least starting to establish a new routine, before you actually start the job, is likely to make the transition easier on everyone.
Think ahead. Chances are that you will need your kids to do more for themselves if you're going back to work. Asking them to take on more responsibilities around the house is great for them, and it should help you too.
The key to a smooth transition is to be sure that your kids have taken on these new responsibilities before your first day on the job. Even relatively compliant kids will need "practice" before new routines run smoothly. We found that our kids usually threw three "fits" in a row when we imposed new routines on them. If we could endure those "fits" (which usually were just complaints, whines or worse), and stay firm (and consistent), the new routine tended to click by the fourth iteration and the kids often became enthusiasts. Maybe we're all that way :)
Here are ideas for things most kids can be expected to take on around the house. Obviously their ability to take on various responsibilities will vary widely based on their ages.
Most kids are happy to help when they know that their contributions are meaningful; it gives them a great sense of accomplishment and helps build lasting self-esteem. This means that while they're taking on a new responsibility you need to be sure you're not hovering over them, offering too many suggestions, and/or criticizing their efforts. Let them make a few mistakes! Keep yourself busy doing something else meaningful while they tackle their new "jobs".
An important key to success is to be sure that your kids don't view your return to work as an imposition on their routines or a punishment. By establishing new routines before your return, you're likely to ease the transition for everyone and discover how your work actually helps your kids become more capable adults in the future.
Submitted by "Human Rights Mama"
Note: This is not a sponsored story. Neither the author nor Working Parent Stories have received any form of compensation from the businesses and services mentioned below.
As a lawyer specializing in policy advocacy for refugee rights and the mother of two, I've found myself pumping in a wide variety of places including New York City, Geneva, Washington, DC, Las Vegas, and Brussels. (Not to mention on airplanes to said destinations.) I have also purchased pump replacement parts in nearly all of these cities, as I seem to forget one key part on every single trip. Target stores are a blessing to all women who need quick pumping solutions!
Figuring out where to pump can be a challenge. On many trips I need to walk or take transit between multiple meetings in a single day. It's often hard to find places to pump or nurse when I'm away from home and on the go; especially in big cities. Thankfully there are some apps and websites that crowsdsource good places to pump, including momspumphere.com. When in doubt, I’ve found it helps to ask the Internet.
Hotels have been the most accommodating in my experience. They usually offer me an empty room or an office, even if I'm not a guest. And like many, I've had to settle for the gross public restroom on occasion.
Airports often have lactation or baby rooms now, which is in credibly helpful. San Francisco International Airport has a great room on the new pier in Terminal 3; it has become one of my favorite stops before boarding a plane.
My favorite ad hoc location was a Nordstrom dressing room near Washington, DC. It was quite comfortable, though I am sure the other patrons were a bit confused by the mechanical sounds coming from my room :)
And what to do with all that milk? Thankfully there are services available to ship it home in a chilled container. I’ve used Milk Stork, and FedEx has options as well.
Submitted by Jim Haselmaier
My wife and I worked full-time while we raised our kids. We were at the same Fortune 100 company during most of those years, so in retrospect, our somewhat common work environment provided an interesting view of how one company treated working parents. We compared notes in a variety of situations, and by and large, we both felt like we were treated well and fairly. And we hoped, in some small way, we paved the way for other parents wanting to follow a similar path.
When our first child was born (1990), there was no FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) in the US. If an employee working for our company gave birth, she was offered a benefit that provided six weeks of partially paid medical leave, with an option to take up to two additional months of unpaid maternity leave. As we planned for our baby, we planned for the unpaid time off too. The benefit stipulated that upon her return to work, the new mother was guaranteed a job at the same level she'd had before taking the leave. It was a sweet deal, and we appreciated it.
While this benefit was attractive to us, my wife and I both wanted to spend time with our newborn. And while we appreciated the maternity benefits offered, my options were a lot more limited and my status was not as well protected. We decided that rather than take a lot of time off together, I'd take the majority of my time off when my wife returned to work. We thought that four weeks at home for me would work well.
We worked with the company to arrange a plan that made sense to us, and we were confused as we tried to understand why the company thought mothers should take time off with babies, but not fathers. As we were investigating how to make this happen, I vividly remember us sitting in the office of an HR manager discussing the situation. He very clearly told me: “You can take vacation time. And we might be able to find a way for you to take unpaid time off.” My response was immediate and clear: “When my wife finishes her medical leave there is no difference between us. Why does she get a maternity leave and I do not get a paternity leave?” HR’s response was, “That’s the way it is.” In an attempt to help us achieve our goal, the HR manager suggested that I could claim the time off would be spent caring for my father, who was ill at the time, but I had no interest in twisting the truth.
We pushed forward to make it happen, but conversations with my manager didn't go any better. He told me that if I took the four weeks off, he'd have a job for me when I returned, but I would be demoted from my management position, so I'd return at a lower level. That only strengthened our resolve to make it happen. In the end, I stayed home for four weeks after my wife returned to work.
The time at home alone with my baby daughter was fantastic. I mastered every aspect of her care, and we went on outings together. It was great to have that dedicated time with the newest member of our family.
Interestingly, things at work went better than expected in the end. During the middle of my leave, my manager called me and said, “We had a manager leave. When you return, would you be willing to return as a manager?” I told him, “Well, as a matter of fact, I would!”
In hindsight, this was one of the best outcomes I've experienced after being forced to make what seemed like a difficult decision (at the time). Twenty seven years later I'm not missing the four weeks of 1990 pay, I don't think it hurt my career, and I'd like to think that I may have planted a few ideas in the minds of HR and management that have supported new benefits that exist today.
It's easy to complain about things not being the way you want them to be, but if you want to be a change agent, you sometimes need to be willing to take at least a small hit so that things will be better for others in the future. We're glad that in hindsight we hope our small step back in 1990 may have helped change things just a little and hope you might consider doing something similar if an opportunity presents itself to you.
Submitted by Modern Cynical Dad
"Full-time Mummy/Daddy" is a term that irks both my wife and me because it is usually used in the context of a career choice. The distaste for the term is not aimed at the individual who chooses to use it, nor the choice that person makes. It bothers us because parenting is not, in any way, a career.
Use of the term suggests that those of us who pursue careers (by choice or not) are less committed as parents. Of course, I am not naïve. I don’t really believe that other parents mean to imply that, but sometimes it is interpreted that way.
My wife and I both have full-time careers. She is an Advisor for a well-known optometrist and runs her own business. I am an Area Manager for an equally well-known retailer in the UK.
An interview with working mum Jenna as published at Digital Motherhood
Jenna has been back at work for ten months after spending ten months at home with her new baby.
READ an interview with her to hear how it's going.
Inspired by Adam Rose
Are you a stay-at-home parent thinking about getting back into the workforce? If there is any question in your mind about whether or not now is the right time to jump back in, put those concerns to rest and take a look at the LinkedIn post below.