Does your workplace provide the flexibility you would need to become a parent?
Working outside the home is such an important part of life now, and it is vital to find workplaces which provide financial stability and job satisfaction, and also allow for all the parts of life that happen outside of work, like having a family. If you are planning ahead to “Have It All,” one strategy is to seek out family-friendly workplaces from the beginning of your career. It is worthwhile to investigate the companies you would like to work for and measure their benefits and resources against a list of your needs and values. Rather than fitting your plans for children into the constraints of your workplace, you can structure your work choices to fit with your larger life plans to have children, even if it is a few years down the road.
Unlike most other industrialized countries, the United States does not offer many federal social supports, such as paid family leave and subsidized daycare, to help working families. Corporations and businesses have taken on some of the responsibilities of supporting the family-oriented needs of their employees, with varying effectiveness. Certain companies are well-known for their family-friendly policies. Some are specifically trying to attract dynamic young women, so they provide benefits that will attract their ideal employee by answering her needs. As working women become more vocal about inequities in the workplace, and both men and women express their desires to spend more time addressing needs outside of the office, work/life balance is becoming a rallying cry for all employees.
For someone who is clear on their long-term life goals and knows that having children is on the list of life experiences he or she wants to have at some point in the future, seeking workplaces, from the outset, that honor parenthood is a savvy life strategy. In addition to the fact that it is easier to access supports that already exist, and it is easier to be a successful working parent when your role as a parent is viewed as an asset instead of a hindrance, it is easier to become a parent within a structure that supports parenthood in general. Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, so being well-situated could be an asset when you least expect it.
Companies fight to recruit and keep high-quality workers, and benefit packages vary widely. They can be an indication of the family-friendliness of the corporate culture. While doing your job search, research the benefits packages and see if they cover paid maternity leave, on-site or subsidized daycare, flex-time, and if they are supportive of breastfeeding and have proper breastfeeding or pumping rooms. Before applying, learn about the corporate culture of the company and whether it is truly family-friendly. Working Mother Magazine has listings of the best companies for working mothers. Even if you are seeking work outside the corporate structure in smaller businesses, put family-friendliness high on your list of priorities for your ideal job, and put the most family-friendly ones at the top of your list to apply to.
Sometimes you have to take what you can get in terms of employment, but putting family-friendly jobsites at the top of your list helps you “Have It All” by raising your chances of landing in an environment that facilitates your success. Instead of leaving it all to chance, establish your job priorities based on your needs and goals, and seek out places to work that are aligned with your life plan.
Michal Klau-Stevens is The Birth Lady. She is the creator of the Mastering Maternity™ system, a program that helps childbearing women confidently approach pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, early parenting, and navigating the maternity healthcare system. She is a maternity consultant, pregnancy coach, consumer expert on maternity care issues, Past President of BirthNetwork National, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, and mother. Her website is TheBirthLady.INFO. Find her on Facebook at The Birth Lady page!
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