How do you balance having two children and a full-time career?
I once read an article called “Work-Life Fit,” which I felt resonated more to my life than the more commonly used phrase of work-life balance. The article talked on how if you focus on “balance” you will often feel disappointed because there is never a perfect balance between being a mom and being a professional. Sometimes you have to be full on work mode, while other times you need to put all your focus and energy on being Supermom. I have learned to be very adaptable and comfortable when things don’t go as planned. Nowadays, work no longer fits into the 9-5 box, but that is a good thing. I know I have that flexibility to take time during the day to go to a school event, or one of my boys doctor’s appointments, and log back on at night to catch up.
What should professional mothers consider before starting employment or returning back to work?
I think it is important to know your goals and priorities of what you want to accomplish out of your career. Are you wanting to get in and advance or are looking to get back into something that is steady? I think it is also important to know what support is going to look like personally and professionally.
A story that comes to mind is during a past winter, my kids had a snow day and day care was closed. I had no option but to keep both kids at home and log online to work. I had a conference call to lead so I loaded the boys up with snacks, put on their favorite TV show and shut the door. Two minutes into the conference call, my youngest son opens the door and says “Hey mommy, who ya talking to?” Luckily at pep something like that is appreciated and not frowned upon. It has become just a normal part of our culture.
What is something you do outside of work to fulfill your other interests?
I attended a 4A’s webinar (American Association of Advertising Agencies) where they had us create a pie chart to break out the things you prioritize in your life. After the activity was finished and they started going through examples, I realized I forgot to include myself on my priorities of life. From then on I decided to I always strive to get better at prioritizing myself. I joined a professional organization, Greater Cincinnati Association for Talent Development, and became a member on the board. In my downtime, I love to read books, watch Netflix and enjoy going to as many local events or activities as possible with my kids. We are always on the go!
What can working mothers do to manage their time better?
Moms are masters of time management. You have to be incredibly efficient in order to make that quality time with your kids before and after work. Studies continue to show that in addition to working, moms consistently take on more of the household responsibilities. From scheduling appointments, being the first call from the school, to cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping; as a mom you do it all. It’s important to work for a company that supports gender equity. I feel pep shows this in multiple ways like allowing both mothers and fathers to take parental leave when there’s the arrival of a new baby or how both moms and dads have the ability to care for sick children, attend school events or sporting activities.
Does raising kids teach you any skills that you can use in the workplace?
Resilience! Mornings can be especially chaotic, but when I come into work I can have a whole new mindset for the day. Being a mom and raising kids also gives me a different perspective; the stress of work doesn’t seem as big in the grand scheme of things.
What do you appreciate the most that pep offers to working parents?
Trust. Which in turn also leads to flexibility. Supervisors at pep trust that you can take your kid to a doctor’s appointment or attend a class party, but at the end of the day still get your work done. pep also has appreciation of family and the importance of it. I love that we have a bring your kid to work day and that there are kids here of every age. My oldest son is 7 and has been to every single one.
Kristie Schoonover, SHRM-CP