It's Working Project

"There are always challenges as a working parent. Even at the ages my children are at now, we’re experiencing new challenges with extracurricular activities, homework, etc."

What is one piece of advice you wish you could offer your former expectant self?

Enjoy the pregnancy. Write, journal, make notes of all the little experiences. It really goes by fast (may not seem like that) but there are the firsts that you want to remember…

What was your primary motivation for deciding to return (or not) to work? How early did you tell your employer?

I worked at The Coca-Cola Company during all 3 pregnancies. Honestly I think each time they were a little nervous that I would not come back so I’d get asked the question. But I wasn’t ready to stop working. I had earned a graduate degree and spent time getting to where I was and I know I had more to give in a professional environment. Plus I liked working.

FOR MOMS: If you breastfed, was there a place for you to pump that met your needs and was conducive to your success? If you breastfed, how did you decide to continue? FOR DADS: What, if any, adjustments did you (or your workplace) make to your schedule after having a baby? Was it specific to your manager or larger, whole work culture?

I did breastfeed and when I went back to work, I pumped. I was usually in back to back meetings so just making time for pumping was difficult at times. I would schedule it on my calendar so people (ideally) wouldn’t try to schedule meetings during that time; though that didn’t always work. I was fortunate to have an office during my first 2 pregnancies so when I returned, I could just pump in my office. After my 3rd child, our department moved to a more open office design so no one was in offices anymore.  During that time, I would try to find small conference rooms that I could use for pumping; I’d have to reserve them so had to plan ahead. I also was lucky because I had a personal fridge to keep the milk; we didn’t have a floor fridge. At Coca-Cola, there is a pumping room but it wasn’t convenient for me since it was in another building and as mentioned, I had back to back meetings, so just going and coming back would eat up so much time.

How much leave did you take, and how comfortable were you taking it?

I took approximately 14 weeks with each child. That was great but it was a combination of FMLA and vacation. The FMLA was only half paid (6 weeks). The additional 6 weeks was unpaid and then I used some vacation time on top of that. I loved the time that I had. I know that if I had to go back after 6 weeks, it would have been difficult for me. I felt that at 6 weeks, I was beginning to get the hang of parenthood or having multiple children etc. It takes a while to get into a rhythm with the feedings, sleep etc. So I definitely needed and wanted the time. And I’m fortunate that our family was in a position that I could afford to take some unpaid time off but I know that can be difficult.


How easy was it to put a childcare arrangement together and did it work for your family?

After my first child, when I went to work at 14 weeks, I had family come into town and help care for my child. They were able to stay a few more months so I didn’t have to really think about external childcare until around the 6-7 month mark. But it was scary to find a childcare arrangement. My daughter had been with family her whole young life and now I was going to trust a stranger? We decided to use a nanny and did a nanny share. It worked out great. The nanny was fantastic and it was nice for my daughter to be with a couple of other children some of the time. And frankly, it was helpful to have another family to lean on while navigating through the nanny process.

When did the “new normal” set in for you?

Ha! Has it? There are always challenges as a working parent. Even at the ages my children are at now, we’re experiencing new challenges with extracurricular activities, homework etc.

What was your biggest challenge going back to work?

Balance. Balance with work, children, husband and myself- having time for myself and not losing who I was with the new responsibilities. I was working a lot before children and I honestly wasn’t sure how I would be able to maintain that and be the present mom that I wanted to be. To help with this, I proposed doing a job share. It hadn’t been done in my department but the VP approved and supported it as long as I was in charge of finding/interviewing a partner. Having a job share did help me at that time to be able to breathe some and have the time with my child(ren) and for myself.

Who was your biggest source of support in returning to work? What was your biggest pregnancy indulgence?

It wasn’t really a question if I should or shouldn’t go back. My husband knows that I like to work and keep busy.

Biggest pregnancy indulgence, food wise, was lemonade!  I didn’t crave a lot of things but for some reason wanted lemonade.

Fill in the blanks: As a working parent, I never expected ____ would be so hard and ____ would be so much easier!

As a working parent, I never expected making time for myself would be so hard and truly knowing my priorities and acting on them would be so much easier!

As a working parent, a bad day is when _____ and a good day is when _______.

As a working parent, a bad day is when I’m not productive with work and then therefore not present at home and a good day is when I’m productive while working and can turn off and be truly present with my family and ends with a glass of wine with friends.