I started a new work-from-home marketing job in February 2021, after being on maternity leave since January 2020. It feels odd for me to be prospering when so many women are suffering. Whether they lost their job, quit their job or had a baby in the last year, it has been total chaos for many women, my friends and family included.
I want to say that my workplace has given me an awesome work-life balance. But that would be how the previous, apologetic, unconfident me would respond. Now I know that I worked hard and manifested my own work-life situation. It was not given to me by anyone. I planned it and made it happen. I work from home on a beautiful work laptop. I also breastfeed my son twice a day. I make lunch for my 6-year-old daughter every day. I sit down and eat with her. I walk the dog by myself – something I never thought possible when having kids. My daughter has been in virtual school since September 2020 and is doing well. I love being close to my kids all day. I love working in my bedroom by the window in a small corner with a mini desk. I especially like being able to make my own coffee in my own kitchen whenever I want.
Many people have been working from home for almost a year and I have just started out. The challenges are plentiful – asking for help is a necessity.
Zoom fatigue is also real. I am sure many of you know what I am talking about. I love having my camera on as much as possible because I want to connect with people. Similarly, I have to protect myself by hiding my self-view and to stop myself from fidgeting with that one piece of hair that will not sit right.
To ask for help as a new employee is difficult; asking for help as a new, virtual employee presents new obstacles.
I don’t have a work phone, so how do I call people?
How do I meet everyone, if I don’t know their names, emails or schedules?
Navigating the company and everyone in it pushed me to think differently. I scheduled one-on-one meetings with all the leaders and managers. Even if our video chat only lasted 15 minutes, we got to introduce ourselves. It was great to meet everyone and start to build a relationship – but I also I felt like I was being interviewed by everyone in the company.
Work and home life intersect daily. I hate using the word work-life balance (I know I used it earlier on) because it is more of a work-life rollercoaster. Some days my kids are happy, well-behaved and can tell time. Other days, havoc breaks loose – the whole house is covered in goldfish crackers, my son yells doo-doo all day, my daughter suddenly doesn’t know when recess is over and I have seven important meetings in a row. My stress-levels have peaked, but I have incredible coping mechanisms in place. My number one coping mechanism is asking for help! My partner is a great father and supporter of mine.
I often want to take care of the house, kids, dog and be a super working woman just because I feel like I can “do-it-all” at once. I CAN do it all, but I do not have to do it all at once. Asking for help is something I saw as a weakness, and it has now become my biggest strength. We have a good system where my partner and I text each other during the day (he works from home too in the basement). We decide what is for dinner, who will do the dishes, walk the dog, put the kids to bed and shop all via text everyday. We have a flexible schedule in place already – I walk the dog in the morning, he does the evenings and similar responsibilities planned out. He schedules appointments for himself and so do I – we cover for each other. We work together, not against one another. We communicate, we don’t assume.
I find this positive personal relationship experience has transferred well into my work relationships. I am not afraid to ask questions. Asking for help is mandatory for me. I do not force myself to stretch my energy thin and wear myself out, because I have to prove my worth. I am worthy.