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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Melanie is a woman with not only the will but also the way! Building a career and a family at the same time is not a walk in the park and wow, does she ever pull it off with generosity and grace! Her work is always with an eye on the greater good. Having been a lead on Dr. Jill Biden’s team, she polished her skills and better still grew a “fan base” of individuals and organizations that call on Melaine and her remarkable talents as a caring communicator to advance conversations, to protect and elevate issues and advocate for those who need her commitment and smarts. Yes, Melanie, a friend of the It’s Working Project is all that and more!
Read on to learn how she does what she does. Click here for Melanie’s full story.
And then tell us about you! Your story will help other families and we will donate a package of diapers to the DC diaper bank in your name! Share your story here.
Tina Lee is a deeply dedicated doer. A native San Franciscan and technology professional who saw the gap between the growing technology sector and the mothers (and others!) who were eager to get themselves moving in a new direction and into the new economy, Tina got thinking. Thus MotherCoders was born.
Tina is passionate. She speaks regularly on topics that bring to life the growth and success of women including digital inclusion and workforce development.
As MotherCoders grows so does Tina’s commitment to meeting not only the skills but social needs of women re-entering the workforce. Workshops are made for learning and growing in all directions — she is that good! And those who have had the privilege of working with her carry the confidence that is the truest signature of MotherCoders!
Next up — New York. Look for Tina and MotherCoders to hit the Big Apple in 2019 with programs that promise more of the same in partnership with google and Mothers. NYC Tina and team will be there for moms looking to re-enter, expand and explore new directions.
There really is only one Tina Lee. We are in awe of all she has accomplished in the name of mothers. As for Tina as a mother in the workplace – we thought we’d share her story with you as part of our celebration of the Spirit of Giving.
Please share your story with us allowing all mothers to find success however they define it! Click here to share your story now and we will donate a pack of diapers in your name to the DC Diaper Bank.
How is it possible to be wildly successful and super supportive of women at the same time? Heidi Zak has found a way. Making it look easy with her boundless energy and spirit, she breaks barriers, and dares to disrupt in the name of women offering game-changing product as well as a discreet distribution network that speaks to how women live now. Mother of two and founder of Third Love (yes, those amazing bras) Zak is committed to getting it right in the name of women. Her Third Love will have donated well over 200,000 bras to women in need by the end of the year. These go to women in need both locally, domestically and internationally.
As for motherhood, she brings that experience to the table as well. Third Love offers nursing bras as well as bras in half sizes which help to ease the frustration of a newly changed body after baby and the fitting challenges that come with it.
Heidi has been there and done that. We wanted to share a bit of her backstory and remind you that your story is an outstanding way to offer support to at risk women.
Remember to share your story here and the It’s Working Project will donate a package of diapers in your name.
The DC Diaper Bank is approaching it’s ten year anniversary. The number of families served and the power of this much-needed care and support points directly to the amazing tour de force that is the remarkable Corinne Cannon. She has not done this alone, not by a long shot. And that is all part of Corinne’s magic. A decade ago, she realized that there was an extreme unmet need. One in five families in the greater DC metro area live below the federal poverty level, and zero percent of their diaper needs are met by food stamps or subsidies. Corinne set out to answer the call. And with that she brought with her a universe of able and eager volunteers to meet the need. Corinne gives the word driven an whole new meaning. And we wanted to share a bit about her work as well as Corinne’s world as a working mother.
We are kicking off our week of giving by not only shining a spotlight on Corinne and the DC Diaper Bank, but also offering a simple way to be part of the solution. Share your story and the It’s Working Project will donate a package of diapers in your name. Click here to share your story.