‘Balance Means Doing the Best You Can in a Way That Fulfills You’ — My Experience as a Working Mum

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Natalie Zumino. Photo courtesy of Canva.

Natalie Zumino. Photo courtesy of Canva.

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May 22, 2024 at 10:55AM UTC

Balancing work and life, making space for yourself, and managing a sometimes hectic schedule can be challenging as a working parent. 

Take Natalie Zumino, the Head of North America Customer Success at Canva. In addition to her professional role, Zumino is also ‘mom’ to her three kids; a six-year-old son and two-year-old twin girls. Natalie shares her top tips for thriving as a working parent below: 

  1. “Firstly, my husband and I try to operate as a team,” shares Zumino. “Good communication and planning is so important, especially as two working parents.”

  2. “Having a good support system is vital,” she continues. “I have some close girlfriends who are moms that I go to for recommendations and help in navigating different stages or situations.”

  3. Finally, Zumino emphasizes that “regularly using delivery and subscription services and scheduling those as needed (e.g., food delivery, diapers, and educational toys and books) helps a ton!”

The power of reflection

Zumino was also introduced to a useful tool at Canva — The Five Minute Journal. “The idea is you take the first and last few minutes of the day to write down what you’re grateful for, highlights from the day, and what you learned (there are daily pages with questions and prompts),” explains Zumino. “I’ve tried to incorporate this into my routine and found that it really helps me set my intention for the day and then reflect on how things went.”

And, overall, her number one tip for new working parents is to “give yourself grace,” shares  Zumino. As a parent, you have to learn a new way of prioritizing and pacing yourself.

Curious about Zumino’s other great advice for working parents? From finding balance, to establishing boundaries and joining a company that supports you every step of the way — read on to learn more!

As a working parent, what does a typical day look like for you?

The first hour of waking up is a little chaotic since we have three kids that need to be fed, dressed, have lunches made, and get to school. After I drop the girls off, I head into the office and am usually there between 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Depending on the day, we’ll have various team, leadership, and customer meetings, 1:1s, and planning/brainstorming sessions. The Austin office is a pretty tight-knit team and feels like a startup, so we do things like lunches , events, and watching global recap meetings together. Lately, I’ve been reserving Mondays and Fridays during lunch for a 30-minute workout, which helps keep me energized.

Since our kids have different pick up times in the afternoon, my husband and I will take turns depending on what our schedules are that day. Between 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., we get the kids settled and fed, do homework, and get them ready for bed.

With this full schedule in mind, what does “balance” mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it?

To me, it’s about doing the best you can in a way that fulfills you. When I can spend time focusing and accomplishing things at work and with my family in a way that makes me feel good, supported, and energized (instead of stressed and exhausted), that’s what I strive for.

It’s also important to realize that your “best” is different each day, depending on what is going on in your life. If you’re sick or you have a sick child, your best is different than when you’re healthy and firing on all cylinders.

What’s one misconception you think exists around work-life balance today?

That you can “have it all” at once. In my opinion, it takes a lot of effort and planning to create work-life balance; there are constant trade-offs that can have effects like “mom guilt”. Over the years, I’ve learned to let go of things that aren’t as important and reprioritize the things that are important during that particular stage of my life.

What kinds of boundaries have you established to separate work and family time?

Since our kids now have different pickup times, I structure my calendar so I can do pickups in-between meetings and will work from home for later afternoon meetings. Also, I reserve 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m for the family evening routine and will make myself available afterward at times (and as needed) for calls or meetings with our global team.

On the weekends, I try to be as present as possible, but will also take advantage of the girls’ nap time if I want to get something done.

Let’s talk about Canva’s culture. What’s your favorite aspect of it, and how does Canva aid you in achieving balance?

One of my favorite parts about Canva’s culture is how open, supportive, and fun it is. There is a huge focus on wellbeing and thriving. We have a Vibe team — and recently formed a Culture Committee —  in our Austin office to ensure that the employee experience is front and center. I enjoy coming into the office and having lunch or grabbing a coffee/juice with team members.

Why do you think Canva is a particularly great place to be a working mom? 

One of the things I love the most about Canva is how supportive the culture is for parents. In addition to good health benefits, there are resource groups and social Slack channels for parents. Also, the flexibility of being able to work remotely is great, too. A couple of weeks ago, my son’s school had a Thanksgiving lunch where they invited parents to come eat with their kids. I was able to work from home that day so I could attend the lunch (since it’s near our house). 

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