Welcome to Real Job Talk, Whitney Casares- the author of the Working Mom Blueprint, pediatrician, mom, and supporter of moms in the workplace through her community at www.modernmommydoc.com. We invited Whitney to join us to talk about the realities of being a working mom, and also to discuss how managers, teams, and companies can support working parents.
The pandemic has shed a light on the experience of being a working mom, and has given us a behind-the-scenes look at all of the things parents are juggling while also showing up at work. Whitney is the type of person who leans into everything she does- including being a pediatrician and a leader of her pediatric group. When Whitney became a mom she realized how hard it was to balance everything and felt like she was losing it in all areas. She started asking herself what she wanted her working mom life to look like, what gave her purpose, and she talked with other working moms about the inner conflict she was feeling.
She coaches women on thinking about what their center vision is and what they want to define their life. Whitney’s 5 center points are:
- Connection with her kids
- Personal wellness
- Contribution to other women in a meaningful way
- Financial freedom
- Travel/adventure/new experiences
She decluttered her physical space and schedule so that when making decisions she has freedom to put up boundaries against things that don’t serve her center vision. That vision and those boundaries really come down to values- such as thinking about her children as being attached but independent.
It’s hard to break the pattern of being a pleaser and putting others in front of ourselves. It takes work (Whitney worked with a therapist and others). Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are supportive of you is key to being true to yourself and your goals.
As a working parent, choosing your volunteering wisely is a key to preserving sanity and energy. Whitney knows that the example she shows her daughters of being a CEO and managing with empathy teaches them the value of hard work, the ability of women to succeed without running ourselves into the ground, showing the value of rest and rejuvenation.
We ask Whitney her thoughts on how society doesn’t support working parents (not being open off-hours, asking parents to help in the classroom etc), and how companies can support parents. Whitney mentions Mary-Beth Ferrante of Work 360 talking about Parenting Out Loud, which means having people at all levels of the organization feel comfortable talking about themselves as parents. If the CEO is talking about having to leave work to take their kid to the orthodontist, the accountant will feel free to do the same.
Whitney talks about asking what you need as support as a parent, but she talks about mapping out solutions that meet all of the requirements of the job that needs to be done. It allows people to show up to work as themselves and identifying the problem and the solution. You can’t expect your employer to solve your problem, and when you create the solution you have more control over it.
We asked Whitney about Lean In and the message to working moms. Whitney feels like Sheryl Sandberg’s book represented a huge pendulum swing, and now we’ve moved things back towards the middle which now will move things forward. She also criticizes the original Lean In messaging that women need to be more masculine, especially since our emotional acuity is what makes us better at work. Hiding our femininity does not service our teams or ourselves.
We talk about not giving 100% and giving 70% in order to have reserves for ourselves, and Whitney discusses selective mediocrity. Some things require 100% of our attention, but others we can phone it in.
We asked Whitney what she wishes everyone working w parents, esp moms, knew, and she said to be aware of the depth of our conflict, and the desire to do it all and be it all. How we carry the mental load and a constant checklist of what our families need. Also to look at people as having moments and being able to take care of themselves during life changes and they will be more invested in the organization over time and thinking about what they can contribute over time.
Seeing people as people and supporting them through change helps with retention. How do we support people as parents to make sure we have parents on our teams? Having representation at the highest levels of leadership is critical in order to make sure people’s needs are represented. AND if you’re the representative, you stand up for the people you represent. To make change, it’s ok to start small.
We talked about the great resignation and how over 3M women have left the workplace, and Whitney asks women to try and keep 1 foot in the door, but also for other people to mentor them back. People will come back to places that allow transparency and acknowledge the balance between parenting and work.