Parenthood & Pregnancy in the Workplace
Let’s set the record straight.
I have 3 kids under the age of 4, with no twins and they aren’t triplets. I am already exhausted just putting that on the proverbial paper. Just kidding, it can be exhausting but this is what I have learned:
1. It’s not pregnancy that scares them, it's parenthood:
A conundrum, by nature, certainly isn’t straightforward. In the working world, pregnancy discrimination is rife, not because of the pregnancy but because of the looming responsibilities that come with Parenthood.
2. It’s not parenthood that scares them, it’s the chaos that goes with it:
So, why the discrimination? Whether you have one or many kids, overnight parenthood becomes something intrinsic to your identity. Although it is not my experience, I have seen it unfold in many other organisations: no one wants “it” to step into the workplace. It’s like a part of your identity you have to hide. Because, let’s face, it a lot about parenthood is unplanned and chaotic, not exactly qualities you aspire to bring to the workplace.
3. It’s not only the chaos that scares them, but the shift in responsibilities for you:
Being self-employed can be a definite advantage when it comes to parenthood. For the most part, in small businesses, unlike more corporate environments, you’re not expected to leave your identity as a parent at the door when you arrive at the office.
So, what now?
Understand that both you and the “workplace” are going through an emotional transition.
Pregnancy discrimination can be self-inflicted if we are not cogniscent of what effects it can have on the workplace.
Do not lose your identity, but let it be an asset, as opposed to a liability, for those around you. Parenthood can bring wonderful attributes to the workplace, but it gets a bad reputation as a result of a lack of communication and unpredictability, due to lack of organisation. These are the measures I have put in place to ensure the work-life balance is guilt free, giving time as well as adding value in both areas:
1. Figure out a rhythm and cycle between work and family time. What I can encourage is a plan, because moms, you are lucky in one regard - time. You have a few months to plan.
2. Know what your support structure looks like. Taking time away from the business is at best - difficult, and at worst - impossible. This WILL be required as a parent, so ensure you know what your go-to will be when the occasion arises.
3. Encourage ways of work that can optimise output
Prior to the Corona outbreak flexible working was a "buzzword", but now it is an absolute possibility and hopefully, moves businesses into a trusting space regardless of how valuable this way of work can be for the individual and the organisation.
One last note, I learnt the hard way: while some people feel like superheroes and return to work very quickly after the baby is born - TAKE YOUR MATERNITY LEAVE. It's good for you and its good for the organisation!