It’s that time of year again. As soon as the sun is warm, out come the sandals, sun dresses and beautiful baby bumps. They are everywhere! Before I had my first baby, I remember seeing those lovely bellies year after year and not thinking much of it. Until one day. I heard the whisper. A faint calling, or was it actually that darn clock everyone talks about! In any case, I knew my time had come. I wanted to have a baby.
But my mind started to race. How could I have a baby when I was working 10-12 hour days, and enjoying it? Would I be able to continue doing what I do? Would I get that promotion I’d been working towards? How much time could I take off from work? Would getting pregnant affect how I was treated in the workplace? Is my workplace one that promotes family or not? Can I pursue a career while raising a family?
All these questions had me rethinking my desire to start a family. Flash forward seven years, and I now have three kids, left my job and now have my own doula business, and I have much more insight when answering some of these pressing questions than I did before my first baby. So I will share them with you.
Just because we have kids,
it doesn’t mean our career goals go out the window.
What surprised me the most was how much my priorities changed immediately post baby. Before, you only have yourself to think about, and maybe your spouse or partner. I never blinked twice about staying late at the office if needed, attending a networking event or conference, or going for drinks with the girls after hours. Having a baby definitely changed that. You won’t necessarily have as much flexibility after hours or on the weekends, particularly for social activities. Instead, you’ll be running out the door, and battling the traffic to pick up your baby at daycare before it closes. And most often you won’t mind doing so as you can’t wait to see your little bub.
Solution: Since you may sometimes need to work late, or participate in certain social activities, you and your partner may trade off and each have an evening or two during the week dedicated to work related activities. Or, for those parents who have a lot of responsibilities at work, hiring a nanny may be the answer, or even a sitter to pick up the kids, make them dinner, etc.
Shifting your work hours
Creating boundaries is important – especially if you want to stay sane! You won’t be able to suddenly attend that last minute corporate meeting at 4:30 p.m. anymore. Instead, you may be the first person in the office in the morning and the first person to leave at night. You may find yourself working through lunch (though don’t do this all the time!) And many parents I know actually bring some work home with them to do once baby is sleeping.
Solution: You may find that because you know you have to leave on time, you’ll actually be more productive during the workday. It’s true there is a lot of time spent talking to colleagues or attending time-wasting meetings. So use your time wisely.
Landing your dream job
In some professions, I believe it can be hard to get that promotion. For example, we so often hear how hard it is for women lawyers to become partners once they have children. That being said, it’s not impossible to move ahead. A friend of mine was offered an amazing job when she was 6 months pregnant – they were adamant about wanting her for the job and were willing to wait for her return following maternity leave.
Solution: Be clear with your goals. Some people assume if you want kids, you no longer want to have additional responsibilities. So, if it’s a promotion or a different job you want, let your boss know and work out a plan so that you can work towards it. Just because we have children, it doesn’t mean our career goals go out the window.
Some organizations, and some bosses for that matter, are very pro-family, while others aren’t. It can be difficult working for a company that doesn’t value family as much as you do. Pro-family organizations offer great benefits, including maternity and parental leaves, sick leave, vacation, etc. They offer flexible work arrangements, such as part-time work, job sharing, or telecommuting. They also understand when you may need to work from home when your child is sick. And they don’t schedule those late day meetings!
Solution: If your company needs to revamp its family policies, perhaps you may like to be part of the reform or even lead the team! Or you may decide it’s not worth your time and energy and you’ll search for another job elsewhere that suits your changing needs and values.
Is it the right time for you to have a baby?
Only you know the answer to this question! Remember, it might be impossible for all your ducks to be lined up in a row at the right time. And that’s OK. You may want to change jobs now and wait until you’ve worked for a while before getting pregnant. Or you may want to wait until that next promotion. That being said, you may decide that life is too short and throw caution to the wind. Qué sera sera! Whatever the outcome, you will work through it. So, yes, it is possible to pursue your career and raise a family.
And really, is anyone ever 100% ready to be a parent?!
Would love to hear your stories about how having a baby changed your career path and the way you work! Drop me a line in the comments below.
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