When we had our first child, I was shocked by how hard it was to be a parent. Where are the public service announcements informing us of the trials and tribulations of being a new parent? In my new role, my daily goal was to brush my teeth each day and hope to even take a shower. This was a big change for me, as historically, my goal was transforming organizations to better meet their customers' needs. My "client" was now a 9-pound dictator who didn't know how to negotiate and wasn't willing to follow my processes, although she was very cute!
Starting the parenting journey was hard enough... now I had to return to work, freshly showered and with clean teeth every day! At first (and still today), I was struggling to figure out how to make everything work without feeling totally overwhelmed and failing at everything. Did all new moms feel this way? Was it my level at work? Was it is my job? Was I losing my edge?
I started to ask other new moms how they were doing. It was the "worst" best-kept secret! Everyone was struggling, but no one was openly discussing it. I invited a few women at my workplace to a conference call to share some ideas for making it work, what they were struggling with, how we could help each other, etc. And, I said, "Feel free to forward this invitation to other moms." This call became the start of the Mothers on the Move (MoMs) group, which currently has 200+ new moms and even a few dads.
We meet monthly and continue the vision of helping each other. Equally important, we have become the voice of the needs of parents at Accenture. We've asked for numerous things to help make easier choices between our families and our jobs. We asked for more maternity leave, and it was doubled. We asked for more backup care when we need coverage -- it was doubled, and we got an extra week the year a baby was born. We asked for help for nursing moms on the road, and we got breastmilk shipping services. The list goes on and on... but, it was clear, when this group spoke, leadership listened. Our leadership team now actively seeks input from our MoMs group to generate new and fresh ideas.
This journey into being a working parent has taught me many things, but there are three important lessons that I would like to share:
1) Everyone finds being a new parent hard. Add a second child, and smoke will come out of the top of your head!
2) No one cares if you have baby vomit on your suit jacket or have your hair in a ponytail, as long as you show up and give it your all.
3) Most importantly, if you don't tell people what you need and where you are struggling, you'll never get the support you need to be successful. No one says no to a new mom trying to find her way in the working world.