Student Parents and the Pandemic

We are so thrilled that we’ve expanded the It’s Working Project to include a broader range of parents including their specific needs and challenges. We are quickly gathering insights from student parents. These stories must be shared. The Washington Post did an outstanding job of introducing readers to some of these families, and the broad range of issues impacting student parents now, under the cloud of Covid-19.


Student parents

Mothers on the Verge


I have been thinking about, writing about, and remaining curious about the young mothers in my world. How can I help? I keep my ears and my heart open. And I ask, over and again, what can I do to help?

The truth is, the best thing I can offer – that any of us can offer in the midst of this madness is support. As we have passed the official start of fall and we move into cooler, more isolated days the form of this resembles something we knew in March. Yet our perspective (200,000 and growing deaths will do that to a culture) is much altered. 

Educating children has become draining, painful really just too much. Working mothers, in particular, share their need for space – to breathe, to think, to consider or create — it is simply gone. 

I asked some of you to share what you would like to gift these women in your lives. I thought I would share my shortlist of loving remedies. These will not change our circumstances or those of these women we do deeply love and respect. But these gifts are given in the spirit of love with hopes for a few minutes of self-care. 



There is little that soothes my nerves like the smell of a carefully chosen candle. And the best news is that there are always candles to be found on sale. This is just the type of gift that says, “I care so very much”…

Otherland is a Brooklyn based, woman-owned candle company. That aside, their product has an authentic love for the art of candles- from stunning packaging to long-burning candles that fill a room with comfort and care. I am partial to Daybed and Chandelier. Other candles such as Nest and Fresh Sake (which reminds me of our first showroom in NYC) are also in the near-perfect range. These are a bit easier to find on sale. Consider Apricot Tea for quiet notes or Sicilian Tangerine for bright citrus day-long treats. 


The end of a long day should have a reward. My vote — a decadent scrub for the shower. The two that I gift with love over and again are Ren Mococain rose and Fresh brown sugar. Each has equal parts texture, fragrance and TLC. Getting into a bed of cool, clean sheets after a soothed after a hot shower scrub is a treat that I give thinking of the true value of ten minutes for self. 

Sleep Spray:

The days are endless, ruthless and long. Sleep can be elusive. And that is why I like to gift sleep (or as close as I can get)! My two standouts are very different. This Works Pillow Spray is infused with Lavender, Chamomile and Vetiver. They even have a nap version which seems like a crazy long shot – even a tease so I do not give that one!!! Ren has a very different scent profile, Ren’s And Now to Sleep is quieter in scent. I sent this to a dear friend this week with hopes that she could get more rest. My fingers are crossed. 

These are just a few ideas…The rule is simply this — send something that comforts, that might seem like an extravagance and that says I am cheering you on. 

What have you been sending — we’d love to know!

Julia and one of her favorite young mothers, Jessica! 

4 Strengths of Family-Friendly Work Cultures


In the media: Harvard Business Review

Date: September 14, 2020


As Covid-19 grew into a pandemic, Michael Schaffer, a father of three in a dual-working household, worried a lot: about his parents in Delaware; about his highly creative, curious, and social kids, who’d had to switch to remote learning; and even about his dog, who was now sharing the home with everyone 24/7. But what Mike did not worry about was his role at Edelman, where he was Senior Vice President, Digital + Corporate. While friends, family, and colleagues all around him had to suddenly adjust to remote work, he’d already been doing it for close to 18 months. That’s how long it had been since he and his family had moved from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles for his wife’s career. Edelman was committed to supporting the shifting needs of its employees and their families, even if they had to relocate, and to that end the company had put in place a set of technologies, protocols, tools designed to help enable remote work — which had made it possible for Mike to move to Los Angeles with his family but still stay on the DC team that he loved. He felt lucky.

The It’s Working Project, where I make sense of the challenging and ever-evolving intersection between work and caregiving, has interviewed employees and HR departments about how their workplace dynamics are shifting during Covid. It’s important that workplaces get this right, because although one-third of the US workforce is considered essential and has been on the job through the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the rest of American workers have shifted to remote work, some of them probably permanently. It’s been a bumpy experience for many employers and workers, especially parents, but in recent conversations with Mike and others I’ve noticed a compelling pattern: The workplaces that are thriving today are those that had already invested in family-centric policies and are building on what they’d learned.

As late as February, when companies committed themselves to family-friendly benefits by offering flexible work days, back-up-care reimbursement, and remote working options, and by prohibiting end-of-day meetings, they typically did so in the name of recruitment, retention, and brand culture. But no longer. Some of these programs grew out of the economic realities of a formerly low unemployment rate, they’ve left organizations well positioned for the quickly shifting workplace dynamics of Covid-19. To understand how — and why — I’ve begun collecting the stories of workers.

Let’s consider a few here.

Click here to read the full article.

Labor Day is Looking Well, Laborious


It is the start of a long, Labor Day weekend. I’ve got a good book and some yoga on my mind. Here in Maryland, crabs may be in order as well. There are glimpses of what kept us good and giddy in the past. And really, this is a feeling that is hard to come by as we enter into the early days of September 2020. 


There is much to say about our summer that was not quite recognizable. The hill we need to scale is now many miles higher as most schools are starting the year in remote learning mode. The logistics, the weight of it all is just a set-up for frustration and exhaustion. So let’s say you’ve come up with some masterful way to keep your world working…that would be remarkable really. And if so, please share! 


As our dear friend Melaine Fodder Kay shares…this is tricky business. Sending love and patience to all of you. And a reminder, we want to hear your story – please share!




It’s true – (thank you Cheryl Crow for recording a song that serves as a bit of a parenthood mantra) 

and It’s time

So – stay tuned to see what the incredible team at the It’s Working Project is about to bring to life….


New site – bigger, bolder and more inclusive 

New insights – more curiosity and plenty of room to bring your experience to life

And best of all 

New ways to share and connect in all the best ways.


These are not the best of days, quite far from it.


And still, the need to be heard, to share and connect with others remains as powerful as ever.


Well here we are. And here is our ask:


Come and visit

Share your insights — what do you love, what could we do better?

Pay it forward – let your friends know that we’ve spent these days working together just for you!


Here’s What’s Cute About A Postpartum Mom


For 21+ Years Forty Weeks and the It’s Working Project have worked to raise and maintain awareness around the full picture of motherhood. New mothers in particular, first time mothers. are born when baby arrives. Yet, the ducks and bunnies and pastel cute things still get the attention, when in fact Mama could use some care and support. Let’s consider how to change this in real time.

Imagine this — after forty weeks focused on you and your health including: blood levels, hydration, mental state, well-being and all things that serve to indicate that your body is gestating as it should, a switch is flipped. After months of maternal care there is a moment, a rite of passage. A pregnant Woman becomes Mother. And Baby takes center stage. And that my dear reader is the whole story. At least as much as you know about it.

Breastfeeding Center of Greater DC

Frida’s rejected Oscars ad tried to let you in behind the maternal velvet curtain. The painful, insecure days of post-delivery, early motherhood and all the uncomfortable learnings and adjustments that top a long, evolving list of how things are not the same. While the ad did not make it to the Big Game — it did make it to the big web. Readers were outraged. And they shared with comments to underscore their frustrations.

“This is a cultural problem” you say — you are not wrong. And still, you are are not helpless. Here is what you can do.

Show up at baby showers with care and nurturing for Mother. Items that will rate low on the “how cute” scale but will win big “thank goodness” accoldaes in the real world of new parenting.

Need Ideas? Great, I happen to have some. These are the shower gifts of a true freind — you are givng your newly minted Mama friend the gift of Ahhhh — and that is how we begin to tell the truth and shift our culture, even a bit.

Soothe Look to FridaBaby for a selection of not at all chic staples for gentle, supported recovery at home. Consider Instant Ice Maxi Pads and Witch Hazel Soothing Foam. Perhaps include with a bottom-saving Recovery Cushion. Remember, women do not see their doctors for up to 6 weeks post-natally. That is a long time to go in pain and discomfort. These items are pure gold (though not at all adorable).

Sleep Yes, you really can give the most coveted, elusive thing of all — a good night’s sleep! Let Mommy Sleep brings the support of registered nurses and newborn care providers to give new parents good night’s sleep. Better still, you and your friends can build a “sleep registry” for your friend keeping Mama rested and closer to her best.

Simple Styling Comfort Getting dressed is really not a thing for new mothers. Day slips into night over and again. A shower, or even clean hair is a very big deal. Comfort that feels even a little close to self wins the prize. I adore Belabumbum for just this reason. This mom-founded company’s Lounge PJ Chic PJ & Robe Set is made with easy access for nursing, support where needed and crafted out of super soft fabric. Another idea — their Mama Robe is embrodered (says Mama) and comfortable with the new Mama in mind.


Support A few good consultants can be game changing for a new mother. Top of this list is a lactation consultant who will not only teach skills in advance of baby but also deal with anything (this can be painful and scary) that comes up. And while giving priceless access to a nonjudgemental, super positive CLC, IBCLC such as the legendary Heather Kelly in New York, do not forget the value of classes or groups. As a gift this is tops. Places like The Pump Station and Nurtury in LA or The Breastfeeding Center of Greater DC offer classes filled with information such as prenatal education and peers (aka new mother friends) both essentials in the new parent tool box.

Breastfeeding Center of Greater DC

Sips and Snacks As mentioned, time takes on a very different quality as a new mother. Still, food and drink are so essential for a strong recovery as well as milk production. The good news — there is lots of healthy food (and almost anything else) to be had via Postmates. Easy and yes — essential.

Let us know what you like to give as a new mother gift. Share your story with us!

The Support Story

This topic remains top of my regular private sector agenda and close to my heart. Newly pregnant women, mothers and working parents desire and need their village. In specific, what was once a given – a community of knowledgeable caring souls eager to shine a light on the pathways and elevate women to a place of confidence set in the present tense. The concept of multi-generations of family existing in a single location is foreign to us now. My interest is not in lamenting what is lost. Rather, the idea is in building a new generation of support easily accessible and open to parents.

Here is a short list:

Breast Feeding Centers:

Offering supports from childbirth education, breastfeeding courses and of course peer groups. These low-judgement zones are focused on empowering women and sending them into their new roles with confidence and new friendships.

Peer Groups in the Workplace:

While some are part of a robust curriculum of peer based support others are more ad hoc. None are any less necessary. These groups not only offer information from what is available (as is leave and how to eek out more time from the layers of possibility) to how to return to work (where to pump, what tools are needed and which are the best) these intimate, honest  collection of parents offer the essential power of community. First timers are grateful and hungry for the facts and the hacks. From there these same parents eagerly pay it forward with passion and commitment to the next generation (be it weeks, months or years) of working parents. Some of my favorite examples include Booz Allen Hamilton, Campbells Soup and Levi’s Strauss. There are many more — organizations from all industries, sizes and geographies getting it right in the workplace through connecting parents with each other.

Workplace Programs:

The formula (no pun, truly) is simple — each year a large majority of women leave the workplace due to an inability to find their way to a comfortable, functional new normal as a working mother. These women are experienced and on their way to high, C-suite level management. And these women are not to be replaced. Certainly not inexpensively and in the most organic, honest sense – not at all. Top quality talent is irreplaceable. Yet the private sector loses sight of this very quickly. What this boils down to is the need for employers to recognize their vulnerability in losing quality employees, full of passion for their work not mention institutional knowledge and years of connection to the brand as a whole. Forward thinking organizations address this by looking for better leave and return set-ups. And, as it turns out, one of the most essential is also the least expensive — formalized workplace support groups. I have spent time with BirchBox and January Digital noticing how they have crafted programs to live both as tools (pumping rooms or mik shipping) and as more private offerings (parental groups). These are not meant to feed to organization but rather nurture the individual. And, it works well.


Be it your partner, parents, sibling or community – your family is your touchstone and your gold. They cherish you and support you as very best they can. Be clear — ask for what you want, need and crave (you know that is real) and get the full-on care that they are lovingly sharing your way. One key hack — remove their judgment from your choices. If you need a date night with your co-parent ask and take it. If they offer food or house cleaning say yes with no apologies. Remember the village? You modern day version may be a bit less traditional, but it is yours. Embrace the care, feeding and experience coming your way. You will benefit from knowing how very surrounded by love you really are!

Support for Sale:

Be it via a book (The Fifth Trimester is not only a must read but also a must gift) a service (Let Mama Sleep is just that — again, accept with grace then generously give to the next Mom). A podcast (The Double Shift or The Longest Shortest Time) or simply new approaches via Werk or One Million Work for Flexibility – find the intel you need to keep yourself strong and yes, supported.


Support is the thing. Simple, essential and offering an extremely high return for all involved.


We want to hear where you found your support! Click here to share your story with us.


Katherine Goldstein, Generous Genius

Katherine Goldstein is as brilliant as they come. She shines brightly in a way that is welcoming and engaging. She is inclusionary and eager to leave this world much better than she found it in the name of working women. Those of us who read or listen to her never tire of her sharp and keenly observant point of view.

Katherine has followed her own path from traditional publishing career to a prestigious fellowship, which led her to be the voice to be heard in outlets including the New York Times. Now, with just days to go until the launch of her much-anticipated Double Shift podcast (yes, subscribe) we thought it a perfect time to give you a bit of Katherine in her own words.

Remember to share your back to work after baby story here and we will donate a package of diapers in your name to the DC Diaper Bank.

Read Katherine’s full story here.