Making My Traditional(ish) Office Job Work

Making My Traditional(ish) Office Job Work

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Today we’re continuing the How She Does It guest post seriesToday’s post comes from Victoria Easter Wilson. Join me in welcoming her to the blog! 

My entry into the traditional workforce was just that, pretty traditional.

A new college graduate, I assumed the world to be my oyster. That is, until I began submitting resumes. The first job I landed felt a bit more like sand inside the oyster’s shell: small, gritty, and mundane. It was a major reality check.

Months into that first job, however, the department where I worked downsized, giving me the perfect opportunity to find a new position. Not long after, I was hired on at a nationally prominent online marketing firm. My employer took a chance hiring a fresh graduate, and I wanted to give them no reasons to regret their decision.

The company I work for is unique in that we exclusively provide web marketing services to law firms. It may sound odd, but the niche is actually thriving! Marketing law practices is a bit of a creative challenge, but the work has sharpened my mind and taught me diligence. What I love most about my job is working alongside top-notch colleagues. Our culture is one that builds teammates up and, so, the entire company flourishes. I can honestly say I leave the office each day feeling a bit more accomplished than when I left.

Several months into my shiny, new career I got married. And several months after that, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant.

Reality check #2.

I worked until the day I had my daughter, literally! I reported for work on Tuesday and delivered my daughter on Wednesday. (Talk about cutting it close!) Following a 9-week maternity leave, I returned to work full time.

One of the first challenges work-outside-the-home moms face is childcare. Through a few Facebook status updates, my husband and I found a wonderful in-home babysitter for our daughter, a local mom with a background in childhood education, whose fees were comparable to surrounding daycares. For those seeking alternatives to more institutional forms of childcare, I highly suggest reaching out to your network for recommendations. We couldn’t be happier with our arrangement.

Though pickups, dropoffs, and leaving work early for the off-sick day require some juggling, keeping the commitment to breastfeed my daughter has been the most challenging. Since my body apparently thinks I gave birth to a village of ravenous babies, I must adhere to a rigorous pumping schedule! The work I do is time-sensitive and fairly demanding. It can be frustrating to interrupt my workflow to pump. Thanks to my iPhone, I usually catch up on emails or do some industry reading during the downtime. At my office, I lock myself away in a back bathroom. I can easily set my breast pump on the sink, next to an outlet, and not worry about unexpected interruptions.

Several months after reentering the workforce, I decided that a full-time schedule didn’t jive with my personal goals a mother. Anne’s helpful book, How She Does It, was truly a guiding light as I navigated post-baby career moves. Standing on the solid reputation I had built at the company over my two-year tenure, I approached my employer and asked if I could take up a part-time schedule. The company was happy I wanted to maintain ties, and I was happy I could spend more time with my daughter while continuing an income stream for my family. My job still bears the hallmarks of traditional, corporate America, but with the flexibility that I wanted.

At the time of writing, my daughter is 9 months old and we are thriving on this part-time arrangement. I could see myself returning to full-time work once my daughter and any future siblings are school-aged, but for the moment our family is comfortable taking my career one step at a time. It is such a gift to continue sharpening my job skills, but invest the bulk of my time parenting through the little years. I am deeply grateful for an employer who is willing to change with me, even as my daughter changes.

Yes—my work life has moved away from tradition, but that works for me.

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23 comments

    • Oh, that’s a great question Rachel. I actually have more SAHM friends who don’t do any work outside the home (or if they do, it’s seasonal or freelance, that sort of thing), so that’s a bit interesting. And I have a few work outside the home full-time friends, but not many. So my conversations are usually about reconciling our parenting styles, with me being a kind of happy medium.

  1. Sarah M says:

    Great post, Victoria. I’m so glad you love your employer and that they are so flexible for you, too; best of both worlds. Thanks for sharing your perspective. 😉
    Sarah M

  2. Lisa says:

    Lovely post! I am WAHM and I love the flexibility. I’d be curious to know how you fit in your job and your daughter’s schedule? Some days I am great at it and some days I am not at all!!

    • Victoria says:

      Thanks for asking, Lisa! On the two days I work in our office, I still bring my daughter to the in-home babysitter. Another advantage of not using a daycare is the flexibility that working with other moms brings! I will say, I can see the day coming (maybe if we have another baby?) when we may move to a mommy’s helper or something coming to our house. Or I might need to get better about working in the fringe hours. I do find it difficult to concentrate on work with all a kiddo running around! I’m curious about your WAHM arrangement! How do you make it work?

  3. Beth Anne says:

    I love this post! It’s refreshing to hear about the ins and outs of what working as a mom looks like. Also, I’m a bit jealous of how great your employer sounds! My sister Sarah had worked out a similar arrangement at her accounting firm for a while — working two days per week and spending the others at home with her kids.

    Now, she’s home full-time, as am I, but I have to admit that on occasion, leaving home and heading into an office where I’m surrounded by other talented adults and have a good reason to wear a dress and tights – that sounds pretty great!

    My last “real job” was as a nurse, so unfortunately, I was still surrounded by tons of children on the pediatric floor, spent my time doing a lot of the things I would do at home as a mom, and never ever got to wear tights. Probably sounds superficial, but one day I want to walk into an office and wear tights again, haha.

    Thanks for sharing this, Victoria! Sounds like you’ve found something that’s working beautifully for you and your family, and I hope it gives other women the courage to speak up and just ask their employers for what they want.

    • Victoria says:

      Ah, yes. That is the struggle! And while I do enjoy being in an office and surrounded by adults (who even thank me for what I do!) oftentimes on the days I work my mind is at home. There really is a balance to be struck. Who knows how long this part-time situation will work for us (I imagine if we have more children, the arrangement will change again!) but I am truly so grateful it works at the moment. I, like you, do hope more women speak up and ask for what they want – especially in the workplace. “You don’t have what you don’t ask for.”

  4. Darla DH says:

    Did you announce the book give-away winners? I keep looking but am not seeing it! Maybe you only let the winners know? Sigh! Alas,…likely so!!

  5. I love hearing how other women are making it work! I landed a similar part-time situation that allows me to be with my children more and is so valuable to me. My children are all three in public school, these days, but I well remember the hectic moments of pumping in the office and bidding farewell to tinies. It’s not easy or simple to juggle both worlds and it sounds like you’re doing a great job!

    Big kudos to the firms willing to work with Mothers!

  6. Desiree says:

    Thanks for telling us a little bit about your family, Victoria! It’s wonderful when we’re able to spend some really quality time with the kids WITHOUT having to sacrifice too much… all my best to you and your family!

  7. Cheri says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post, Victoria. Thank you for giving us a sneak peek into your life and providing work/family balance inspiration. It’s so nice to hear you weren’t trapped by tradition. Kudos to you for creating something that works for you and your family.

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