Motherhood is transformational in every sense, and that often includes redefining your relationship to work. Sometimes it entails figuring out how to be successful both at work and at home. It can also inspire a woman to start a new business or transition into a new field, with fresh confidence and resolve.
No matter what your role in the workplace, though, support is key. Good childcare and parental leave are obvious necessities, but finding your working mom community is invaluable—for relating to your pregnancy problems, schooling you on childcare, offering you sage pumping tips, or simply inspiring you to spend your time differently. Here’s how to build yours.
- Introduce yourself to a veteran mom in your workplace. Not until you become a parent do you realize how many tricks your coworker (who is also a mom) has up her sleeve. She has an amazing ability to multitask, knows which project management apps really work, and has the number of the best backup babysitter around town. Chances are there’s probably a whole mom tribe right behind her.
- Join a local listserv or Slack channel. Yes, we know listservs are so 1999, but they are still thriving in parent communities all over the country. Even if they just serve as an entry point to the Slack channel or Facebook group that you’ll actually use, you’ll find a wealth of information for working mom life. How do you find yours? A quick Google search. Or get bold and introduce yourself to your neighbor across the hall with two kids. Seriously, everyone is on it.
- Talk to Human Resources. After you’ve gotten the answers to all of your pressing questions (do I get paid for maternity leave? Where’s the lactation room?), you’ll want to ask about support for you as a new mom. Many companies set up resource groups that connect employees in similar circumstances. If they don’t have one, speak up and encourage them to start one. Having that built-in support at work can alleviate a lot of stress and help break down some walls.
- Go to local mom events (or plan your own!). Not everyone is lucky enough to work with other parents, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a new mom support group. Check out your favorites sites, snoop around on your local listserv (we told you it would come in handy), and pop into your local baby store to find out how you can connect with working mothers in your neighborhood, and get everyone together for a drink or a weekend playdate. The best part? They’ll share tips that have made them successful in their own workplaces that you can bring back to yours.
- Make friends on social media. The truth is that some days the balance between baby and work will be downright exhausting—and that’s OK. Today’s working moms can have it all from their couch (with a beverage of choice) thanks to social media. Scroll Instagram and comment on a mother’s feed your admire, or text with a far-away friend who might be going through the same thing you are. Not feeling up to socializing? Feel free to be a voyeur. You work all day (and night). You deserve a break.