As a Human Resources Manager at Terex Corporation, Brooke Hardin understands the importance of work-life balance both for individuals and for an organization. It’s a simple equation: A lack of balance can equal burnout, which means lesser satisfaction and productivity.
However, as a mom, Hardin also understands the difficulty many professionals have had establishing that balance over the last few months.
“Balance for me means being present — physically and emotionally — in whatever activity I’m engaged in,” she said. “The amount of time focused on work during regular business hours changed with all three children home. The two-year-old twins required constant engagement and supervision, and my 10-year-old daughter needed assistance with online school instruction.”
Thankfully, Hardin has a series of support systems that have helped her transition to a new vision of balance since the onset of COVID-19. Both her team at Terex and her management have “exercised patience and flexibility” and she calls her husband a “tremendous support.”
Still, it’s impossible to say Hardin hasn’t been putting in hard work to manage it all. Recently, she shared the routines and mindsets that have also helped her not only masterfully navigate her role as manager and mom, but also manage extra responsibilities providing support to a second Terex office in Wilmington, NC. Here’s what she had to say.
Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities?
I started with Terex in June 2019, accepting the role of Human Resources Manager for the Louisville, KY site. In March of this year, I took on additional responsibility and started to provide HR support to the Cranes Sales and Service office in Wilmington, NC. My priorities tend to alternate on a regular basis in Human Resources, which is why I enjoy it so much! I consider my job to be a strategic as well as a hands-on role that provides full-cycle Human Resources support to our leadership and team members.
Paint a picture of a typical day for me. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
My day starts around 6:00 a.m. with coffee — always coffee! Before I start my workday, I spend time with my children either reading a book, playing toy cars, or singing. They love to sing during breakfast! In the evening, we keep a strict schedule for the twins’ bedtime routine. And then, it's time to focus attention on my 10-year-old. Lately, playing card games, watching old movies and bike rides are our top 3 activities. By 9 p.m., I’m typically back at my desk responding to emails, running reports or completing time-sensitive tasks.
What does “balance” mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it?
Balance for me means being present — physically and emotionally — in whatever activity I’m engaged in. This takes effort on my part to stay focused on what is right in front of me. At times, I’m with my children and work is taking up space in my head, thinking about a deadline or project. Conversely, it’s a challenge to stay on task at work when I’m worried because one of the kids doesn’t feel well or I’m overwhelmed thinking about housework and things that need to get done.
Attaining work-life balance can’t be done solo. What people, resources, and tools do you rely on to get it all done?
My husband is a tremendous support. We have a great partnership and share the responsibility of family and home very well. We share a strong work ethic and that serves us well, both personally and professionally. Having an engaged ”work family” is also important; being a part of a team that is focused on the same goals makes for a successful team, especially during the pandemic.
As a working mom, what advice do you have for other women who are balancing work with parenting?
Take a deep breath, then take a few more! Parenting while working at home during COVID-19 is not a sprint, it’s more like a marathon. I remind myself on a regular basis that I am living amidst a global pandemic and have a great responsibility to keep my family safe. This reminder helps to keep me right sized. I also tend to rely on lists a lot; I keep a list of tasks that I need to get done as well as a separate list of things I want to complete.
What resources or support has Terex offered you as a working parent?
During the pandemic, management has exercised patience and flexibility. The focus has expanded from the health of our business to include the health and wellbeing of our team and their families. We are all professionals and understand there’s an expectation that while working remotely, our responsibilities are still ours — i.e., scheduled tasks and projects must remain a priority and be completed in a timely manner.
One challenge I’ve experienced is my availability is limited during certain times of the day. For example, a call may come in when I have my three children at an arms’ length, I can send a quick text and advise them I will return the call shortly. It’s just finding that balance of getting an activity started and getting to a quiet spot to return the call. There is plenty of email correspondence that goes out after 5 p.m. and on the weekend as well!
How have you had to adjust your parenting during the COVID-19 crisis?
Both my husband and I began working from home in March and we have a daily review of our work meeting calendars to determine who can parent and who can work.
The amount of time focused on work during regular business hours changed with all three children home. The two-year-old twins required constant engagement and supervision, and my 10-year-old daughter needed assistance with online school instruction. Since the start of summer, my daughter has taken on more responsibility of keeping an eye on her brothers. Thank goodness for naps; I am very productive between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. each day!
What has been the biggest challenge for you as you are navigating this ‘new normal’?
Being an extrovert, I have found the lack of social interaction with friends and the general isolation to be a great challenge. I have a weekly ‘social’ Zoom call on Saturday mornings with friends that I look forward to and it helps with my need for social engagement.
What is your favorite way to destress outside of work?
Getting away from our house as much as possible! I like to find new and safe places to spend time with my family outdoors. Recently, my daughter and I went to Tioga Falls in West Point, KY.
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