Time magazine is doing a series now on the women’s revolution, and one of the most obvious advances we’ve made is a higher acceptancy of pregnancy at work. Three Valley women shared with me their insights and tips on how they each prepared for their baby.
One of the most prominent pregnant people I know (!) has been our own Charlotte Shaff, CEO of The Media Push, who blogged about her pregnancy throughout this past spring and summer.
“I started planning the moment I found out I was pregnant. Since I am a one-woman shop, I wanted to make sure I had someone who would be able to handle my pitches and client needs while I was tending to my newborn. My clients were told at least 4-5 months out that business would carry on as usual after I had the baby, I would just have someone else looking after them.
I had no idea what to expect when I had the baby and all I heard from moms was that I’d be tired and wouldn’t want to miss those moments with my baby. This concerned me because before baby, I spent the majority of my day and evenings focused on work. How could I completely stop working? Because of my addiction to social media and my Blackberry, I did find I could still monitor what was going on with my biz and the current media while taking care of Jake. When Jake went down for a nap, I’d check emails on my computer and delegate duties. Having someone there to help me with work has been great, though sometimes I find it easier to do something my self than to have to explain it to someone else.
My “maternity break” will end in mid-November. I hope to find someone who can come in and watch my baby while I work or go to appointments. I will have to learn to say “no” more and won’t be as flexible as I used to be with meetings. So far, most people who have inquired with me on new business have completely understood that I am a mom now and I will be delicately balancing work with child.
My advice to women who are going to have a child is to plan and prep ahead of time as much as you can. Make sure your clients know way ahead that business will stay as usual. And realize most media and clients do understand if there is a crying baby in the background. At least that’s been the case with me. Probably because I have already established a relationship with them and they’ve known about my pregnancy the entire time. Every mom and work situation is different. So far, I am going with my gut and its working out for me. Now, talk to me in about 6 months when my kid is mobile and I may have an entirely different thought process about this.”
Kathy Sacks of Sacks PR offered 6 keys to career sanity and serenity when having a baby.
1. Time management is key. Getting ready for a baby and having a baby take time management and multitasking to a new level. You no longer can waste time on unimportant, or low priority stuff. Delegate it out if you can, or reevaluate just how critical it is. Many times you’ll find it’s not really as important as you think.
2. Embrace the fear, nervousness and terrified feeling. It’s the biggest disruption in your life. Ever. So embrace it, revel in it. Get ok with it. The sooner you accept that life is different now and how you spend and value your time, and balance it all is no longer what it was pre-baby, the better off you will be to balance your life.
By far, having our daughter is the single greatest “work”of my career. Ever.
3. Take a full maternity leave, at least 2 months, 3-4 is ideal:
In the beginning it’s tough to try and be available to clients and work at the way you did. Those first few weeks and months are absolutely exhausting. Focus on surviving through it. I promise it gets better. By month 3 you’re getting more sleep. I promise.
Professional women I trust and admire told me to take 4 months off. I thought, “you’re crazy.” I didn’t stop completely working for the full 4 months, but I eased back in slowly over that time. And if you worry about your clients going away, don’t. If you are good, they will all come back, and wait for you. And that’s exactly what happened to me.
Wish I would have just trusted that and believed in it from the get-go, because I would have been less stressed those first few months, and could have enjoyed it more.
4. Have a plan in place for post-baby. (And know that it will probably change.)
Kind of like a crisis communications plan. Have a plan for all areas. For work. For babycare. For friend-time, marriage-time and me-time. Write it down, think it through so you don’t go into it blind. But be prepared for it to change because it probably will. Surround yourself with people you trust and can depend on in all three of those areas, work, childcare, friendship etc.
A few of my clients I had someone I coud trust handle their Comm needs, and then when I was ready to step back, I did. I’ll say it again, if you are good, your clients will find a way to work with you.
5. Have fun and enjoy every minute.
Because it’s true what they say, they do grow up superfast. And they are a joy and a blessing and it’s the greatest thing you’ll ever do. So savor every moment.
6. Support other women and don’t judge. Everyone has their own of way doing things.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with and finding sanity and serenity when baby comes. As women, espeically as professional ambitious women, we need to support and encourage one another to do what’s best for ourselves and ourselves. So you breast fed for 8 months, while someone you know opted out. Fine. Don’t judge. Another puts their baby in daycare, while the other juggles at home doing it all themselves. Great. Being judged sucks. So let’s not do it to one another. Life is hard enough when you’re aiming for the ideal balance. Let’s find ways to lift and encourage one another, instead of beating each other up.”
Aly Saxe of Ubiqitity PR says she and her team ”worked hard the last month leading up to my due date to slowly get me into a behind-the-scenes role. By the time I had the baby, everyone on our team was up to speed on the parts of my job they’d be handling while I was out. Additionally, it wasn’t such a hard shift for clients either. Clients commented on the seamless transition and I wasn’t stressed during my maternity leave about leaving anything hanging.
Don’t try to be a hero to clients or your employer while you’re on leave but offering to handle even the smallest project. If you can avoid it, don’t even check your email. That time with your baby will go by so fast and you’ll be back to the craziness before you know it.”
Any male PR professionals care to share their tips on how much paternity leave they took?Tweet
the rumors are true (@ Neighbor from the 90′s)...
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