In honor of Women’s History Month, our Women’s Professionals Circle is conducting an interview series highlighting perspectives of some of Matter’s female leaders on the issues and challenges women face in the workplace, in our culture and at home. Check out last week’s conversation on Barriers + Challenges.
This week’s interview focuses on what it’s like to have two full-time jobs: working and parenting.
Question: What’s been your experience as a working parent?
Danielle Conlin, Vice President, Human Resources
At times, it’s a balancing act, for sure. You always feel like you can’t give 100% to everything. You can’t give 100% to being a mom while giving 100% to your job, but you have to find the balance to make it work. Personally, you have to come to terms with it. My kids know that mom works hard. I try 90% of the time to get to their practices, games, pickups, drop offs, all that stuff too. Thankfully, I’ve always worked for managers, companies and employers that understand and support me if I have to log off early to pick up my kids. I built that trust, where they know I’m still going to get my job done and meet the deadlines, so it’s OK if I have to log off for 30 minutes in the middle of the day for one of my kid’s doctor’s appointments or whatever it may be.
Monica Higgins, Vice President
My kids are my focus when I’m outside of work. Period. End of story. My clients know that I will not be online typically between 6:00 and 9:00. But if I have to be online from 9:00 PM to 12:00 AM, then I will. There are certainly times when it’s difficult. My daughter will ask, “Why can’t you do this like so and so’s Mom/Dad?” And I say it’s because everyone’s jobs, responsibilities and schedules are different. It allows us to start talking about financials, what that means for our family, and reinforce that with a career comes the opportunity for financial success and independence.
Question: As a working parent, how do you make sure you’re setting aside time for yourself?
Danielle: I have “Danielle days” sprinkled throughout the year. A Danielle Day is a day off, where my kids have school, and my husband is working. It’s a day to myself where I do whatever I want and have no guilt. It could be as easy as going for a walk, getting a manicure, pedicure, reading a book or just doing nothing. It’s important to reset and refresh every now and then. Then the next day, it’s like a whole new world, and I’m rejuvenated.
Monica: I choose to drive into the office twice a week and my commute is an hour and twenty minutes each way. I come in for several reasons — number one it’s my job as a leader to provide learning opportunities for the people that work with me. Learning through osmosis is the best way to expand your understanding of communications and PR. I believe that being in an office and hearing what other people are doing is so important. Number two, those four to five hours a week in the car are literally my only alone time. Giving myself that alone time to listen to what I want to on the radio or on a podcast and stopping at Starbucks and getting myself a black coffee is my self-care.
Question: What do you hope your kids learn from having working parents?
Danielle: The sky’s the limit, so work for it. Earn it. Go for it. If you really want something and you work hard enough for it, it can be yours.
Monica: I try to promote the positive aspects behind financial independence. But number one, for me, is about teaching why responsibility, carrying your own weight and contributing beyond what is expected is so important. I was raised by a single mom who worked three jobs. So, it’s really important for me to pass financial responsibility on to my kids.
Stay tuned for next week’s talk highlighting more of our female leaders, and their advice and perspective on working in a female-dominated industry.