Lisa McCarthy, Mommy at 40 and Director of Public Relations and Marketing
Lesly Cardec, Mommy at 29 and Public Relations Manager
Going back to work post-baby is no easy task no matter what stage of your career you’re in. But, these different stages make the worries and challenges somewhat different based on experience. In this article we take a look at how someone who had a baby at 40 and someone in their 20’s not only returned to work successfully—but with their head intact!
What was your biggest challenge returning back to work post-baby?
LM: For me I was going from a consultant role back to a corporate role and running a department. I went from having my own timeline and only being responsible for my family needs and getting the project done. Where now, I not only have my child to feel guilty about when I miss an event at school, or she can’t have a lot of play dates, but I also now have a whole department of people reporting to me that have needs too—so I have double the guilt!
LC: This question is very timely! For me, the biggest challenge was wanting to make sure that I put 150% into both my son and my career. For the last seven years I have been working very hard to make a name for myself as a Public Relations professional within my Company. Pre-baby, I was always one of the last people to leave the office at night, checked emails when I got home and work over the weekend. Not that being a mother makes me any less driven , but it is forcing me to manage my time a little better because the ‘free time’ I had pre-baby doesn’t exist anymore. I look at my son and think, “I have one chance to do this right.” Talk about pressure! I may not be with him 24/7, but when I am I make it count. There will always be times when my role of a mother and my role at work mix, but in order to be great at both, I now look at the “mix” as being my greatest challenge.
What are some tips that you can provide our readers to make the transition easier?
LM: Well now that I have gone through it, I can say everyone survives, learns and grows! Your child will not only be ok, but will more often than not, have to take total responsibility for getting their school work done by themselves. Your workers will be ok presenting by themselves if your child is sick and you have to stay home. In fact, I have found everyone steps up to the plate when they have to, and it gives them more confidence.
LC: The greatest tip that I can give a new mom would be to not listen to unsolicited advice. Let’s face it— 5 minutes after you announce that you are expecting—all the sudden certain people feel the need to tell you their ‘secret’ to having a smooth pregnancy, what car seat to buy, why you shouldn’t put your kid in daycare, etc. Well, my advice is to take it all with a grain of salt. Everyone has different circumstances and ways to do things. What might not be right for one mom could work perfectly for you. Whatever your circumstance is, do whatever is easiest for you.
How can you apply what you do in your home-life to your work-life?
LM: It’s funny, how you deal with children, employees, and co-workers really is the same. As a manager you often protect your team from making a mistake– since the bottom line is what comes from your department is your responsibility. . But really, growth is all about letting people try it on their own. I have a funny story about my daughter learning how to do a backbend. I kept holding her every time, much to her annoyance because I didn’t want her to fall and hurt herself. This went on for a few weeks. Finally she said, “Daddy will you help me learn a backbend?” And sure enough my husband just let her try it and fall on her head a few times. And guess what? She learned how to do a backbend that day. Same is true of your employees. Once I got terribly sick before a presentation with the president of one of our divisions. One of my employees had to present for me. I was so nervous, but they did a fantastic job and I really saw the confidence it gave them. It’s all about letting go even if it means letting people stumble and fall a few times.
LC: This too is a very timely question. Lisa and I have been talking about this very topic for a while now wondering how we can target diverse women of all ages and the challenges they face balancing it all. SFN Group’s goal as a workforce organization and employer is to provide employment opportunities that support the advancement of women at every stage of their career. After doing a lot of research and conducting focus groups, we realized that television doesn’t offer much in terms of programming produced specifically for, and designed to help real women. We recognized this gap and turned to the web as a means to tell the stories we were experiencing that we weren’t seeing anywhere else. From there, we partnered with CJP to develop Bestsellers, a multi-generational dramedy web series about five modern professional women balancing life, career and book club. The characters portrayed in this series: the entrepreneur, the IT consultant, the freelance mommy blogger, the accounting executive, the HR expert – each represent a cross-section of the professional women SFN Group employs every day through each of its specialized business units. This series dives into real issues working women face daily and has garnered over 160,000 views since the first episode launched in January!
Did you have any concerns about returning back to work?
LM: Oh yes a lot, how I will do it all! Will I be able to handle everything? What happens if my daughter gets sick and I have a big presentation? What will happen if I have to go on a week long business trip? What will happen if I don’t go on a field trip? What will happen if I have to stay up all night to get a project done and my daughter is late for school cause I over slept? I could go on and on. But you know what? It all happened and it all worked out.
LC: My biggest concern was not losing ground on my career path after being off for a few months. I remember being worried about feeling too disconnected and coming back having to work even harder to prove to my colleagues that my drive was still intact. I feared that others would view me as ‘less serious’ about my career.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you about being a working mom?
LM: Talk with other working moms. It really helps. And it was this advice I used at work when I was asked to put together marketing programs that would engage with working women. Bestsellers, our new web TV series, is just that. It came from my experience being in a book club or organization with other women, who had the same challenges, or had already lived through them. It really helped. That’s why this series has been such a great success!
LC: The best advice anyone ever gave me was to just do the best you can and don’t compare yourself to others. We all want to be a Super Mom at home and a Super Manager at work. When I am at work, I am 100% focused on getting the job done. And, when I am with my son it is all about him. Do I think about missing milestones or dreading the day I drop him off at daycare and him saying, “Don’t leave me mommy”? Of course I do. But, I try not to dwell on those things. I value both hats that I wear and try my best to make them both fit.