I like to consider my career goals when I think about family planning. How will my career change when I become a new mother? What sacrifices will I have to make in my professional life to manage my family life? How will my job change as I progress in a pregnancy?
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my superiors, Doug and Patti, about family planning that I realized I had it all backwards. I should be considering my family goals first, and how my career will mold to fit my new role as a mother second. The sacrifices I perceived having to make in my professional life will actually just be adjustments to the demands of motherhood, being the primary caregiver in my household and learning to balance my new family life with the responsibilities of my career. With children and grandchildren of their own, my bosses understand what it means to put your family first. Their reassurance that my family planning decisions would be respected and encouraged, enabled me to feel confident that I had made the right choice when I choose to work for TruNorth. One of our company’s core values is “TEAM,” and part of that core value is respecting home life. I felt Doug and Patti were upholding this value in our conversation, and I feel confident they will continue to respect this value as I experience life changes outside of the workplace.
I’m glad I had this conversation — and I’m sure some of you are thinking I probably didn’t need to have it at all. Some women in the green industry, and other industries for that matter, may choose to keep these feelings of uncertainty around family planning locked away until they can no longer hide a baby bump — and that’s totally fine, too! I urge you, however, if you have a good relationship with your superiors and feel comfortable discussing your livelihood with them on a regular basis, don’t be afraid to have an open discussion regarding family planning. Thinking about adding a little one to your family can be stressful — the sleepless nights, the hospital bills, the missed work (especially for those who do not receive a paid maternity/paternity leave) — so why not talk through some of these changes and worries with your superiors? Figure out how they will affect your day-to-day work life.
By the time this article is published, I will have reached the 20-week mark of my first pregnancy (God willing). My husband and I found out about my pregnancy about two months after the family planning discussion with my superiors. We both felt that my excitement was doubled because of the ease provided during that discussion. My due date is Aug. 28 during the peak of our installation season — and my role as a project manager will have to adjust as my pregnancy progresses. Still, I feel confident that my workplace will support me and will be just as excited for my baby’s arrival as I am.
My hope is that my experience is one you can take to your workplace to influence the open discussion of family planning, pregnancy and motherhood. I know I don’t stand alone in this industry as a soon-to-be mother, and I feel it’s important now, more than ever, to support other women and families with similar goals, and encourage workplace cultures that embrace family planning. Happier employees have the tendency to be harder workers, so taking care of soon-to-be and current employees who are parents will add value to your workplace culture and strengthen the team you want to build.