Every day new parents are returning to work from leave. If you’ve been there before, I’m sure you can vividly remember the mixed emotions of leaving your baby, the excitement of adult conversations with colleagues, and just hoping that everyone is well rested for the big day. This alone is a lot to manage in those early months.
Adding to the ‘normal’ pressures of returning to work, there are the obvious compounding stressors of becoming a new parent in the COVID-19 environment. The economy is unstable, there are limited childcare options, it poses health risks, creates safety concerns, and has been devastating for so many families. Not to minimize the magnitude by any means and to keep it brief, an already challenging time for parents became increasingly more difficult to manage in the global pandemic.
Organizations have pivoted and made shifts to how we work. At TalentQuest’s Atlanta office, we’ve worked in a hybrid environment throughout the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, we were given the option to work from home one day a week. I recently found myself reflecting on this experience of being a first-time parent returning to work during this pandemic. The flexibility we were provided allowed me to focus on appreciating the balance it has brought to both my work and personal life.
Less Time Commuting
Atlanta traffic is no joke. Spending less time commuting during the week means fewer days arriving to work or coming home stressed after filling up gas tanks and fighting traffic. I can start working earlier in the morning to prepare for a meeting or start a load of laundry so that it doesn’t pile up before the weekend. It gives me at least an hour in my day to spend doing something more productive in both my work and personal life.
More Time to Sleep
Let’s be honest, we all spend more time getting dressed if we’re headed to the office. That’s more time doing our hair, makeup, picking the right outfit, and making sure we have everything for a day at the office. Less time getting ready in the morning can mean a little more sleep. Every bonus minute of sleep counts when you’re a busy, working, new parent.
The hybrid environment put a new spin on face-time with my team. There’s a good mix of in-person and virtual face-time now. There are pros and cons to both, but the key is balance. Some meetings are just most efficient and effective in-person. It’s nice to have the in-office days to see the team throughout the week and we’ve managed to do so while making safety guidelines a priority. The remaining days working from home as a parent now mean that my team gets some-face time with my daughter every now and then too. Nothing like a happy baby to put some smiles on faces!
When I’m in the office I’m more inclined to work while I’m eating lunch. It helps me add a little more productivity to my in-office days. Work from home days have helped me find a healthier balance throughout my workday. It’s become easier to take a walk and enjoy some fresh air. Making a quick trip to the grocery store down the street to pick up a few things for dinner no longer seems like an impossible task. I can easily do yoga stretches in-between meetings, but my favorite of all is quality 1:1 time with my daughter.
It’s easy to rant about the challenges of being a new parent during this pandemic but that’s not where I like to focus my energy nor what I want this to be about. This shift in the way we work has brought tremendous balance to the work and personal lives of parents. What used to be perceived as a distracting work environment, has proven to be remarkably productive while being flexible. It’s a shift that has helped new parents feel more support from their employers during a challenging transition. Parents are getting more quality time at home to soak in those special moments that pass in the blink of an eye while maintaining high performance and productivity at work.
Cheers to good health and balance for all the superhero parents out there!