Guest Contributed by Marissa Evans Alden, Co-Founder and CEO of Sawyer
Recent research shows that more than one in three working parents have missed a significant event in their child’s life due to work commitments.
Current standards can be very high standard for parenting, much higher than what existed when we were growing up. There’s this big feeling that you need to be present at all times – which just isn’t possible, because the other expectation is that you’re working and career-driven. Something has to give – and the challenge is which one is it? It’s something we’re all still figuring out.
It Takes a Village
There’s often this illusion that some women seem to be able to do it all but the truth is, if you’re doing it well, you’re not doing it alone. Having a solid support system in place is crucial. Being able to lean on a supportive spouse who understands what 50/50 really looks like or having a network of friends and family members close by is very helpful during periods when you need to travel for work or when you can’t be around outside of normal business hours. Also, a flexible nanny, babysitter or au pair is invaluable when it is crunch time.
At the same time, having a great business partner, as I do in Stephanie Choi (my former Rent The Runway colleague and now Sawyer co-founder), makes life a lot easier for when you need to leave the office for a doctor’s or school appointment. Being able to lean on your “village” really is critical.
Prioritize and Plan Ahead
Prioritizing what’s most important and what you are willing to compromise on helps set boundaries. I personally feel okay about missing bedtime two nights a week but I will draw a line there. The time between work and bed is a really sacred time for my daughter and me, so I like to make sure we use it well.
It does mean having to plan evening events religiously and prioritizing what to say yes to, regardless of whether it’s a night out with your spouse, a work event, or seeing friends. One equitable solution could be going home before bedtime or heading out after the kids are asleep. Plan whatever feels right for you and make that the top priority. Energy is required.
Create a Fulfilling Schedule for Your Kids
Balancing your kid’s free time and more structured time is something to be very mindful of. It’s important to strike a balance in order to facilitate well-rounded development. Ideally, a child will have a mix each day. There’s no one size-fits-all approach when it comes to the number of extra-curricular activities a child should or shouldn’t be involved in but I’m a fan of diversity – my daughter Blake does a mix of solo and team activities, physical and mental. For example, Blake is enrolled in three classes each week – theater, music and soccer – and then plays with friends and also goes to the playground, so there’s lots of socializing with other children in different settings. That seems to be a really good fit for her but each child is different.
Don’t Make Allowances at Work for Being Pregnant or Having a Family
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in business is the difficulty of raising funds as a female founder in the male-dominated venture capital industry (only 2.2% of VC funding in 2018 went to women). Many times when we did the pitch circuit either Stephanie or I was pregnant. It didn’t stop us from successfully raising the capital we needed to jump start our business though. My advice to other women is simply don’t ever see being pregnant or having a family as an obstacle between you and your goals.
Juggling it all
No one has ever said that juggling a career and making time for your family is easy, especially if you’re in a leadership position. Mom guilt affects many working mothers I know, but the good news is, according to research from Harvard Business School, kids of working mothers grow up to be just as happy in adulthood as children with stay-at-home moms.
While it can be a daunting task to try and “have it all,” with the right planning it is possible. Do set yourself work/life boundaries, don’t be afraid to ask for help, surround yourself with a solid support network, and don’t ever allow being a mother and having a family get in the way of your career goals.
About the Author
Marissa Evans Alden is the CEO and Co-Founder of Sawyer, the innovative online marketplace that offers a convenient, all-in-one booking experience for parents looking to discover enriching experiences for their children. A leader in the consumer products industry, Marissa is known for her ability to strategize and develop successful platforms throughout a range of industries.
A seasoned technology entrepreneur, Marissa received her BS in Human Development at Cornell University, followed by an MBA degree at Harvard Business School. Known for her proven ability to tap into the consumer market with a fresh eye, Marissa founded Go Try It On in 2010, a consumer fashion application that was acquired by Rent the Runway in 2013. She then joined Rent the Runway as Head of Radical Innovation, General Manager, where she lead the way for new product development and all things related to the growth and loyalty of the brand’s eCommerce. In 2015, Marissa and Rent the Runway co-worker Stephanie Choi co-created Sawyer.
The opinions and views expressed by guest contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of theglasshammer.com