The juggle is real when you are a working mom. Between memos and morning drop-offs, client meetings and classroom visits, it can be a lot to manage without feeling like you’re letting someone down all the time.
But I do believe we need to set boundaries in the way we work that set not only our families but the organizations we work for, up for great success. Here are some strategies that I believe every working mother can employ to communicate your needs to your employer.
1. Know your worth.
You have been hired by your company for specific reasons, because of your unique talents, qualifications, and experience. Anytime you are entering into negotiations for a need that will help you and your family thrive, do not forget that your organization needs you and your specific skills. You are a worthwhile addition to the team and their bottom line, and if they want to retain great talent like you, I argue there needs to be flexibility in the way the balance of work and life should be approached. Know your worth to the company, and don’t feel guilty for communicating your needs.
2. Be specific about your needs.
When communicating a need with your employer, be specific about the need. Instead of communicating, “I want more flexibility to pick up my kids” ask for specific hours for coming in and leaving. For example, “I would like to come in at 8 am and leave at 4 pm every day to pick up my children from school.” Or instead of saying, “I want to work from home more” be specific with, “I want to work from home every Friday.” An employer is always going to wonder how the request will get done in actuality, and how your performance will be impacted by the request, so the greater specificity and the more you have thought through the options, the greater the likelihood your employer will honor the request.
3. Set boundaries with accessibility outside of the office.
Unless dictated by your job, set clear boundaries around the hours you respond to your email, text messages and phone calls. It can be so tempting to constantly check and respond to these kinds of requests, especially when they can be so easily accessible on your phone. I know a lot of women who will check and respond to email and messages the moment they wake up, and check and respond to email as they are going to bed. Unless it is specifically dictated by your job to be accessible around the clock, resist the urge to respond at all hours.
What this communicates to your employer is that you have boundaries with your time outside of the office, and communicates how much access work has to you outside of the office.
If you find that it helps you feel not so overwhelmed to clear your inbox and messages every evening, even in hours outside of your time in the office, limit it to one hour for example- say between 8-9pm after the kids are in bed, and keep this hour as a commitment to your mental health and relationship with your family.
4. Be honest about your needs at the time of hire.
As an employer myself, I greatly respect when an employee has a clear sense of their priorities and is honest about their needs as a working mother. So while it might seem tempting to downplay the fact that you have kids, and how that might impact the way you work, if you have specific needs or requests, vocalize them at the time of hire. Going into an arrangement where you know from the outset you are going to need to make accommodations and sacrifices you really do not want to make does not serve anyone. So if you can be clear from the beginning I think it serves everyone for long term success.
While I acknowledge that some workplaces will have greater flexibility than others in regards to hours, working from home, and access outside regular work hours, I believe that all working mothers can play a part in creating change in organizational culture, and it is necessary to be brave and speak up for the needs of you and your family.
In my opinion, a happy employee is a more productive employee, and how much work-life balance a working mother has is a huge contributor to this.
About Lisa Canning
Lisa Canning is parenting, lifestyle and interior design expert who helps moms design their lives around what matters most. Lisa’s passion for moms to overcome perpetual overwhelm and constant mom-guilt, in favor of a life that is fulfilling and abundant, is apparent in everything she does. Lisa has become a recognizable face in the interior design and entertainment industry. She has worked as a designer on HGTV’s Marriage Under Construction, and “Buying and Selling with the Property Brothers”, and has hosted regular live lifestyle segments on shows like The Marilyn Denis Show. At the same time, she was growing her design business, Lisa grew her family to seven children, all within nine years. As a result, Lisa has developed a unique approach to time management and productivity, which she shares in her online courses and coaching programs.
Connect with Lisa Canning on Facebook @lisacanningthepossibilitymom, Instagram @lisacanning, Twitter @lisa_canning, and Pinterest @lisacanning, and visit www.lisacanning.ca.
The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dream at the Same Time is available July 16, 2019, in paperback and e-book on Amazon and other retailers
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