It's working for Jonathan Corke, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Bright Horizons
At Bright Horizons, my current manager repeatedly demonstrates that she’s invested in me as a whole person, encouraging me to step away to be present for family events, getting to know my family, and celebrating the milestones along my children’s life journeys. The value of that relationship is difficult to measure.
Take more time away from work when your children are born! Those early days together are pure magic. Restorative for you. Superglue-grade bonding for your emerging family. And an invaluable demonstration of support and commitment to parenting for your incredible spouse. Work will be there. And your colleagues will respect your decision to step away – especially the colleagues who matter most.
In broad strokes, yes. In hindsight, my younger self did not appreciate how full life would get with a family, a demanding job, and the aspirations to maintain a social life. However, I am extremely fortunate to hold a position that offers flexibility in where and when I work, and I am constantly striving to strike a better balance between investment in my professional growth and investing in family bonds.
I work in a communications and storytelling role, and it’s a privilege to write about and present on a topic that I’m living through on a personal level. It allows me to share ideas with authenticity, passion, and empathy.
The pandemic helped me appreciate the role of self-care. I became more attuned to the warning signs of stress build up, and am trying to prioritize eating, sleeping, and exercise in a more consistent way. (Those are a work in progress, however!)
I’ve also begun to reintroduce structure into my schedule, after letting that slip by the wayside during the height of the pandemic. It requires constant dedication, but I’m trying to be present the small moments, such as sharing breakfast with the kids or helping my daughter practice piano in the evenings.
One day at a time! I’m trying to learn my limits and lean on others before I grind down.
When our first daughter was born, I was overly confident that my spouse and I could manage things on our own, and politely declined overtures for help from my mother. It was only a matter of days before I realized how bone-headed that decision was!
In subsequent parenting and career milestones, I’ve worked on tempering my pride and openly inviting tips and offers to help.
There are few activities that clear my head as well as a good skate! Unfortunately, I cut back on ice time during the pandemic, due to safety concerns. Filling this void took some introspection and effort. At its core, hockey provided an outlet for physical exercise and an avenue for social bonding. I’ve invested more in both areas beyond the rink – dabbling in cardio at the end of the work day and (finally) starting to reach out to friends on a proactive, stay-in-touch basis.
Also, quality time with my spouse is precious. We protect a bit of each evening to unwind together. The dishes can wait until the morning…
It will be odd to start resuming business travel again. That said, I have forged many valuable connections on trips over my career and think I will appreciate getting out into the industry again once the initial shock subsides!
Fortunately, the support system that helped keep everything at home running smoothly in past stints of business travel is returning. And my older children are capable of contributing more to meal times and clean up than before the pandemic. Whether we can convince (or bribe them) to pick up the slack is a separate matter…
I would probably answer this question differently 5 years ago, and perhaps again in the future. At the moment, I think my business challenge is managing my mental load. I want to be more present in the precious moments I spend with my children on the workdays. Serving breakfast, working through the bedtime routine, etc. So often, I’m distracted by that errand I need to run, the bill to pay, or the work assignment due the following morning. It’s not fair to them and it’s not in my best interest to get distracted by what comes next. Nonetheless, I have trouble compartmentalizing and trusting that those items will get resolved in due time. We are planning some intentionally low-key, extremely local ‘getaways’ this summer to soak up family time, and I can’t wait!
Get ready to ask for help. No one is expecting you to go it alone. (And precious few parents do!) View leaning on others as a sign of strength and savvy, not the opposite.
My parents and in-laws are both excellent role models for maintaining strong marriages and nurturing, supporting, and educating children. I stumbled upon a manager early in my career who was an open book about his struggles with – and dedication to – being both an attentive parent and a successful professional, and leaned into that relationship with gusto. At Bright Horizons, my current manager repeatedly demonstrates that she’s invested in me as a whole person, encouraging me to step away to be present for family events, getting to know my family, and celebrating the milestones along my children’s life journeys. The value of that relationship is difficult to measure.
As for the question of serving as a mentor, I could probably do more in that regard. I often share career experiences and suggestions with colleagues… perhaps too willingly! And I try to pay forward the examples of transparency and putting family first with my team. I have only recently begun to consider the possibility that I’m capable of mentoring others in the parenting domain… it’s a process of continual learning for me!
As a working parent, I never expected _________would be so hard and _____would be so much easier.
As a working parent, I never expected keeping everything straight would be so hard, and asking permission for flexibility would be so much easier.