Marissa Mayer was recently hired as the Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo. In addition to being a hard working, tech-savvy executive, she is also seven months pregnant. The media has heavily reported the fact of her pregnancy, as well as Mayer’s statement that her maternity leave would be, “a few weeks long, and I’ll work throughout it.” Many of us mamas smiled knowingly, remembering our own plans to carry on post-baby just as we always had… and then discovering the reality of recovering from childbirth, caring for an infant, and meeting our other work and family needs. Mayer likely has many personal and business challenges ahead of her. Here are some tips that may be useful to mamas seeking to balance work and family.
1. Know your rights. Each state has different laws regarding parental leave and breastfeeding or pumping while working. The Hawaii Family Leave Act allows some employees to take up to four weeks of unpaid leave annually for different reasons, including the birth or adoption of a child. Federal law also allows certain employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in similar circumstances. As for breastfeeding, in Hawaii, the law provides that it is discrimination to treat a breastfeeding mother differently from any other employee, or to bar or end employment, withhold pay, demote or penalize a lactating employee because she breastfeeds or expresses milk at the workplace. In addition, the law requires employers to allow women to breastfeed or express milk during their authorized breaks at work.
2. Build a strong team. We’ve all heard the saying that, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it’s true! Having reliable help at home and at work will make you, your child, and your colleagues happier and healthier. Our childcare provider is practically a member of the family. The family-focused culture of Maui makes this a little easier than in some places – we are fortunate to have a network of aunties and uncles to help out when we’re in a bind, and would happily do the same for others.
3. Know when to take a break. Having a baby is hard work. You will need time to physically recover and to bond with your beautiful baby. But even well after the initial infant craziness is over, you still need and deserve some down time, both on your own and with your child. Talk to your employer about flexible scheduling options that allow you to create some open space in your life.
4. Be creative. Being a working mom is not easy! Children of different ages have different demands, and most jobs have busy periods. I have breast-pumped while on conference calls, and keep a pack and play on my shelf along with law books. If you’re a work-at-home mama, you know the importance of being super productive while the keiki are napping or otherwise occupied and don’t forget that job-sharing or co-working are also options for maintaining part-time work.