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Katie Hill. Photo courtesy of Boldly.
If you’re struggling to balance your professional and personal lives, Katie Hill, the Associate Marketing and Communications Manager at Boldly, suggests that you start with gratitude. “We will always be out of balance if we’re not grounded in the here and now,” she explains. “Social media and the internet have made it so easy to think that I want someone else’s life — but I’ll always be ‘off-balance’ if I’m chasing someone else’s idea of work-life balance. Gratitude shifts my perspective toward what I have and what works well for me and my family.”
As an example, Hill’s gratitude involves being happy for the puzzle and adventure that comes with being the working mother of a six-month-old daughter. “There are consistent puzzle pieces (e.g., meetings, work deadlines, doctor appointments, preparing dinner, many cups of coffee) that have to fit into whatever adventure life with an infant brings (e.g., how long a baby will nap, how long she’ll nurse, will she need to be held a little extra.),” she shares. “For me, this daily challenge is fun and energizing.”
There’s also another key component of Hill’s use of gratitude — extending it to the wider world around her. “Gratitude doesn’t mean ignoring the things that aren’t right and the injustices in our world,” she tells us. “Gratitude helps me to realize the things that are in my control and the things I can do. I could easily spend my whole life on the sidelines waiting for big cultural shifts — or I could look at how I can have an impact and influence on my workplace, on my community, and on my family. Gratitude allows me to see these opportunities and gives me the power to create the life I want for me, my daughter, and future generations of women.”
And Hill encourages other women to join her in uplifting others. For instance, she emphasizes the need for new moms in leadership to be transparent about the realities of being a mom and to take the time off they need. “We still have such a long way to go to normalize motherhood in the workplace,” says Hill. “Be the example others need!”
Here, Hill is following this very advice by sharing insight into her life as a working parent. Read on for inspiration!
Working for a company that cares about work-life balance truly makes the difference here. I’m so fortunate that Boldly does an incredible job of making sure our team is set up for success on both a personal and professional level.
I’ll also add that I was incredibly fortunate to watch my mom work remotely while I was growing up — she started several businesses while staying home with us kids, which set a wonderful example of how motherhood and work could complement each other. Before the pandemic, I think it was hard for some people to realize how productive people can be while working from home, but, to me, it was something normal I’d grown up with. I fully credit that to my mom and hope I can pass down the same legacy to my daughter.
I’ve found that being extremely organized allows me to have fun and feel creative with my time for both work and family. My other tip is over-communicating what you need with the support in your life. For me, this is my husband — I try to set expectations about days or times when I may need more help with the baby.
It’s easy to write nice platitudes about work-life balance on the good days, but not every day is going to feel great. You can’t measure the success of work-life balance by the rollercoaster of day-to-day life — you have to step back and look at the trend as part of the long-term big picture.
I have to be extremely protective of my time and attention to be both a good mom and a good employee. I don’t always get it right, and even when I do, it can still feel stressful and chaotic. Not every day is a win and that’s okay.
I am so fortunate to work at a company where there are many working moms. Boldly does a wonderful job of celebrating personal and family transitions, so I felt comfortable sharing that I was pregnant very early on with the people who I work with closely.
Having my leadership and team “in the know” made the preparations and planning so much easier since the team was able to work out coverage months ahead of time. It also meant that I didn’t have to stress about whether people would start to wonder why I suddenly had so many doctor appointments!
My maternity coverage began phasing in two months before I was due so that I could focus my time on documenting my process/responsibilities and finishing up projects. I wasn’t trying to balance putting together everything for my maternity leave while doing my day-to-day work. And the team member covering for me had plenty of time to ask questions while I was still there, which meant that I wasn’t getting any panicked texts/emails while I was away!
As for my return, Boldly checked on me about two weeks before I was scheduled to return to ask if I felt ready to come back. It was just starting to feel like I finally had my head (somewhat) above the water, and they worked with me to come back on a reduced part-time schedule that would work for me and my family.
The best advice I received was from a coworker and fellow mom at Boldly who told me it is easier to scale up than scale back when you return. In other words, if possible, come back at fewer hours or a smaller workload than you’ll need/want. As someone who likes to hit the ground running, I know my default would have been to come back at full speed. Easing back in has given me and my family the time and space to create a “new normal” of work-life balance that works for us.
I’ll also add that you should start documenting things early on — ideally before you’re pregnant! This makes the unexpected (whether it’s a promotion, pregnancy, or anything else) so much less stressful. And then you aren’t trying to build something from the ground up when you might be feeling tired/not your best (hello, first trimester!) or overwhelmed/anxious (eek, third-trimester countdown!).
When I was looking for jobs, I wanted to work for a company where I didn’t have to hide the fact that I was a military spouse and was planning to start a family down the road. Boldly also checks the boxes for paid parental leave, flexibility, and remote work — all of which are important. But these are just the bare minimum, new moms need so much more support and this is where Boldly shines! I’d guess that 80% or so of our team are moms and many of them chose to start their families while working for Boldly.
Boldly really does celebrate team members personally and professionally. I never had to hide the fact that I wanted to be a mom while I was going through the hiring process. Then, when I got pregnant, I didn’t have any hesitations about sharing the news with my team. And, as I’ve come back, people have continuously checked on me to see how I’m doing (with my workload but also with life as a mom).
Boldly genuinely cares about its employees. Knowing that my team and leadership have my back and are ready to support me makes it so much easier to feel balanced.
There’s a video of Boldly’s CEO Sandra saying, “we insist on you being happy.” That’s always struck me as one of the best ways to sum up Boldly’s culture.
I’ll also add something that isn’t as “flashy” but is really critical for culture and balance — documentation! This is especially true when you aren’t face-to-face in an office. It’s hard to get excited about SOPs and manuals, but having standardized, well-written, and well-thought-out documents (in a well-organized central location) is such an easy way to be welcoming and inclusive. Taking the guesswork out of the expectations for company culture or a job description makes balance so much easier! And yet, Boldly is the first company I’ve worked for that has excelled at it.
Whether I was onboarding or coming back from maternity leave, Boldly always had some type of documentation, which says so much about how they truly consider the employee experience and care about individuals.
Want to join this caring team that will support your whole self? Consider joining the Boldly team.