What was your primary motivation for returning to work or changing your work situation after starting a family?
To better provide for my family and create something to leave them.
Tell us about your planning for your new child - timed around your career? Not at all? Share the skinny!
We were having our first child and I was terrified. I questioned my ability to be a dad, provide for him, and everything else that goes through a guys mind when he finds out his wife is pregnant. Our pregnancy was the driving force behind me launching my business. I remember speaking to my wife about my initial career choice to go into law enforcement. I had taken the required tests, scored a 94 on my interview and as excited to start a new career with my best friend. Then one day my wife sat me down and shared her concerns. We spoke at length about the risks and her level of anxiety about it. In considering the options I shared with her my desire to launch SoapSox and a few more details about it. My wife saw this idea as a happy compromise, until I shared my need to zero out my 401k for start up funding. After some more discussion and my concern of regretting not "going for it" she said she didn't want me to have any regrets and said "go for it" so we did.
What was your biggest challenge to going back to work after starting a family?
My biggest challenge was managing the time and attention needed to launch the business and support my wife with our new born. To make it work I worked on the business when I could.
How easy was it to put a childcare arrangement together and did it work for your family?
Childcare was initially a challenge for us given that we really wanted to spend as much time as we could with our new addition. We opted to use a family friends sitter as she was trusted and worked with them for many years.
Did you have a back-to-work mentor? How did he/she/they help?
How much leave did you take, and how comfortable were you taking it? If you are a single parent, how did you navigate your leave?
My wife and I both took a leave from work which initially which we were both very comfortable with.
Have you, or a partner, paid it forward as a parent in the workplace? Tell us a bit more.
In regards to paying it forward, we now have our own business and understand how important it is to have that time with your newborn. So are still a small company but in the future will be providing a robust plan for parents to support them in our company.
How did you work with your doctor, adoption agency, or Human Resources department to plan for your family leave and return?
Our doctor was very sensitive to our needs and the needs of the baby. My wife decided to work until a month before giving birth which gave us both adequate to to prepare at home.
If you returned to work, when did your confidence around work kick in? How long did the adjustment take (or are you still adjusting?) When did the “new normal” set in for you?"
My wife and I both struggled with our return to work given our natural concerns with being away from the baby. We communicated with our sitter almost hourly at first but we adjusted relatively quickly.
What, if any, advice would you give to employers to ease strain around family leave and returning to the workplace?
I would suggest that employers develop robust plans to accommodate family. It makes for healthier families and happier employees.
What factors contributed to your chosen feeding method for your baby?
My wife and I had discussed early that breast feeding was the best option. Obviously I wasn't the one breastfeeding so I tried to support her and the baby any way I could.
A good day is when:
We get to enjoy time as a family having fun.
What I wish I had known:
I wish I had known how challenging managing a business and the necessities of a family really is.
One mistake I learned the hard way:
Give everyone a break, including yourself.
Best piece of advice for other parents starting a family and deciding on how to balance family life and work?
There is no correct way to do it all, it takes constant work. It will be challenging beyond belief, you will have unexpected moments of joy and frustration. But I strongly believe its all worth it.
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