I have struggled for years with the stigma around my family’s less-traditional family dynamic with me as a full-time working outside of the home mother and my husband as the primary stay-at-home parent. Society places so many expectations on traditional family structures that one like ours can be difficult to maneuver through. On the one hand, I’m proud to be a working mother and proud of the example it sets for my girls as they continue to grow. On the other hand, the judgement surrounding this is soul crushing at times.
When I find myself in conversations with some friends who are stay-at-home moms, they often comment on how their spouses get a break when they go to work and as a result, there is a lack of involvement with their children. This isn’t a fair statement to make, and I find it so frustrating. I can speak from experience that going to work is not a break. It is demanding, challenging and stressful, just as it is demanding, challenging and stressful to be home with children, regardless of which parent is in which role. There is a lot of research around the mommy wars and guilt, as well as the gender stereotypes some of us face daily, but I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about how my personal experience has helped color the way I look at our policies here at Evia, and to highlight some of the things we do to make the tug and pull of work and home life easier to manage.
Because no situation is “normal,” we encourage our employees to design their days for what works best for them regardless of whether or not they have children. For me, I regularly put personal items on my work calendar, setting time aside to pick up and drop off my children from school, attend an extracurricular activity, participate in philanthropic activities, go to yoga, or hit happy hour. Carving out time in advance helps me juggle it all.
Creating a culture of trust in the workplace is essential to doing this. We trust our employees to manage their time effectively and deliver on what is expected of them. Open communication is key, which means ensuring that your calendar is up to date and that you have a coverage plan for when you are out of the office.
One of my colleagues shared with me the other day that they opt to spend a few minutes a couple times a day for meditation in one of our private meeting rooms. How great is that? There was no guilt or worry about being viewed as less of an employee by taking the necessary breaks to do something that fueled them. Whatever it is that helps you to achieve a good balance, do it! I believe it will allow you to show up and be more productive and happier at work.
And for me, a working full-time mother with a non-traditional family situation who strives to be involved and present for my children as well as for my employer, it has shined a new light on workplace flexibility. Let go of the guilt in trying to achieve everything and just do your best each day.