“Working” and “Parent” – like “Pumpkin Spice” and “Latte”

Happy first week of Fall!

Last week, we celebrated National Working Parents Day, and it was such a treat to see the response!  It’s not often that we pause and think about how our various roles and identities can complement one another – more often we think about them in discrete buckets, separate lives and existences that don’t play well together.  Even the term “work-life balance” implies that the two sit on opposite sides of some proverbial scale of life, and lifting one up comes at a cost to the other.

But last week, I spent time reflecting on how being a parent has made me a better leader, and this week, how being a professional has made me a better parent.  It shows up in big and more subtle ways, but when you really think about it, the 2 are tremendously complementary.  I saw many examples of how parenthood has supported individuals in their careers in honor of the holiday – ruthless prioritization, attention to detail, calm under pressure, etc.  But there are 2 that really stood out to me:

  • The first is building confidence and conquering self-doubt.  As my son has gotten older, I’ve had to teach him important lessons about “losing” and failure.  It might be on the scale of a lost game of dice, but he still gets emotional.  As I’m telling my children things like “it’s okay to fail,” “you did your best and that’s great,” I hear my voice in my own head, and realize I need to live these values as well (something I still work on to this day). 
  • The other one is that being a parent has forced me to be much more judicious with my time, and prioritize the things that matter most.  This not only makes me more efficient at work, it also makes me a lot more effective.  Prior to kids I said “yes” to everything – not only was it unnecessary, but it also diminished the quality of each thing I did.

On the flip side, being a professional has also helped me to be a better parent.  Some examples:

  • Building financial models = Great party planner.
  • Client presentations = Speaking with authority.
  • Networking events = Stellar relationships with parents & teachers.
  • Leading and mentoring others = Constructive feedback for my kids.
  • Managing my calendar = Keeping activities straight.

But don’t just take it from me – below, we have a very first feature of working parent and Josie client Judy Chow, Principal Client Partner at Adobe.  Judy shares about the many advantages of being a working mom at one of the top companies to be at if you are a caregiver!

And stay tuned…next week, we’re going to dive deep on how companies can create amazing and inclusive cultures for working parents and will highlight some of the best practices we are seeing today.

How has being a working parent served you?  We want to know!  Shoot us a note at [email protected].

Working Parent Feature: Judy C., Principal Client Partner, Adobe

“I’ve been able to take advantage of Adobe’s flexible welcome back policy, with supportive management that really cares about my transition back to work being successful. This has motivated me to focus more on my goals and results.”

Judy C., Principal Client Partner

In what ways has being a mom made you a better leader at work?

Time management & prioritization: Before becoming a parent, my way of dealing with more work would be to say yes and stay late to finish it. Now, I am much more judicious of my time and it has brought me a greater sense of purpose and focus at work. Rather than doing 20 things, I ask myself at least two questions before saying yes:

· Does this work align with my goals and/or vision?

· Am I the right person to do this?

The second question has become more important because what I found is that, sometimes, by me doing the work, I was encouraging a potential broken process to continue for the sake of getting it done. This was not sustainable and the right answer could be addressing the larger issue of why the problem exists and what team should take ownership of it.

In what ways has being a leader at work made you a better mom?

Creative thinking on the fly: Being a mom of two, I’m in that stage where my son (15 months) and daughter (30 months) seem to fight over everything. My son wants anything my daughter has and my daughter’s favorite phrase of the month is “No, baby,” despite the fact that my son is only 2” shorter than her. I have to get creative about encouraging sharing/taking turns and sometimes introduce something new to keep the peace in our household.

The other day, my daughter was adamant about her play kitchen pink cup, which her brother wanted because his sister had it in her hand and they were both fighting for it. I looked outside, noticed it was sunny, and said, “you know what else is pink…..bubbles!” and grabbed a pink and yellow bubble wand. Pink cup forgotten. Both my daughter and son were giggling for 30 minutes playing with their own bubble wands outside. I know this cannot always work but, occasionally, #bubblesFTW

Overcoming adversity/failure: I first started my daughter’s potty training when she was 20 months old because of MY timing. I had 3 weeks before returning back to work from my leave (with my son) and thought this would be the best time to train her. The first two days were promising. I spent day 1 looking out for all the signs that she needed to go. Day 2, she managed to use the potty for peeing once or twice. I was proud about how she was starting to connect it all. However, day 3 is when both my daughter and I fell apart. Around 11am that day, I was cleaning feces and covered in feces. My daughter was in tears, shaking her head, and wanted nothing to do with the potty. I realized I was pushing it too far to force her to be ready on my schedule. I could have continued to grin and bear it for another 2 weeks but seeing how unhappy she was made me realize I’d rather spend our remaining days enjoying our time together. We could start again when she was ready.

10 months later: when my daughter needs to potty, she runs to use it on her own. Now, she giggles when she is done and waits for me /her dad/ our nanny to come and says “I did it!” Her smile is contagious as she gives a big high five and then wipes and flushes “by herself”. We had some bumps along the journey to get here, but witnessing her independence, motivation, and sense of accomplishment has been amazing.

What is 1 way your employer has created an inclusive culture for working parents like yourself?

Adobe has done a wonderful job supporting working moms. The company fosters a positive culture where we have expanded parental time off and also access to well-being apps like Headspace for free to family members. On top of that, I’ve been able to take advantage of Adobe’s flexible welcome back policy, with supportive management that really cares about my transition back to work being successful. This has motivated me to focus more on my goals and results. It shows: I already see that I’m above my goals for the full year with a couple months to go!

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