Don’t Be Afraid to Express Your Needs and Ask for Help: How to Succeed as a Working Parent

Sponsored by The Hanover Insurance Group

Jessica Long

Photo courtesy of The Hanover Insurance Group.

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As Project Manager for ESG & Privacy Program at The Hanover Insurance Group, Jessica Long is responsible for helping to drive the company’s sustainability efforts. She’s also a working mom.

For Long, the keys to excelling as a successful leader and parent are finding the right people and company who will support you on each step of the journey. In Long’s case, she’s able to rely on her husband and their “balanced system that helps us stay on track and remember to have fun and enjoy the small things,” she shares. 

Not only that, but Long tells us how The Hanover is a great company for working moms. “The Hanover employs so many working moms, so you’ll always have great company and an empathetic ear,” Long says. “We have remote work options, flexible work arrangements and Hanover CAREtakers, a virtual community for employees. The group provides a channel for parents and all caretakers to make connections, share stories and provide solutions to challenges.” The Hanover truly respects the boundaries working parents need to make in order to stay on track — at work and at home.

In this Q&A, Long describes her work, her thoughts on finding balance and her #1 tip for other working mothers. 

Paint a picture of your typical day.

When I first wake up, I usually start my day with a prayer. Afterward, I help get my daughter off to school. Before bed, I typically spend some time with my husband either watching TV or listening to an audiobook while having a cup of tea.

Describe your company culture.

The Hanover does a nice job of hearing the voice of the employee and making honest efforts to continuously improve employee engagement. I also think The Hanover seeks a culture add vs. fit when looking for new talent.

What does “balance” mean to you, and how do you feel like you’ve achieved it?

Balance, to me, is the ability to find fulfillment in not only my personal life but also in my professional life.

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

That taking a vacation or time off will be detrimental to your career. I believe having an opportunity to rest helps you to recharge, re-engage if needed and enjoy your life and the people in it. Let’s face it — we all want to feel good about ourselves and bring our best selves to work.

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

This is an area that I have honestly struggled in. As a woman of color, I feel a great deal of pressure to never say no and to be mindful of making sure I am available to my employer. Sometimes, this can get the best of me and I do not prioritize myself and my mental health. 

Growing up, I was always taught by my parents to be a good employee and add value to your employer. I am sure, like many other first generation American kids, we struggle with creating boundaries at work because we don’t want to be viewed as lazy or uncooperative.

Now, I’ve taken a page from my husband, who has a hard “no” to anything work-related on Sundays. Following that stance has given me some great familial experiences and memories as a result.

What are you especially good at as a mom? What about at work?

This is a hard question, so I asked my husband and our daughter for help. I was told that I am good at nurturing and being firm when it comes to education and schoolwork. Our daughter says that she likes that I get excited about her school projects even when she isn’t.

At work, I think I excel in asking questions and being naturally curious. I always want to know why and understand the pros and cons of decision making. I am also very analytical, so, at times, I tend to be an observer. And, for the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to work directly for talented and strong women. I’ve paid close attention to their strengths, how they keep cool under pressure and the way they approach problem solving. It's amazing how much I have learned.

How did you prepare for maternity leave, and what advice can you offer to other moms who are expecting their first child?

Save your money! As a first-time mom, I had no idea what the prices of anything child-related would be, but I quickly found out. At that time, I was glad that I prepared financially. I also utilized my supportive familial system, which was eager to help. I wasn’t shy about expressing my needs as a first-time mom and asking for help when I needed it.

How long were you on maternity leave, and what was it like to return to work?

I was on maternity leave for four months. When I returned, I was excited! I was excited to have adult conversations again and see my peers that I missed.

What’s your #1 tip for new moms who are navigating the delicate balance of working and mothering?

My best advice would be to not be so hard on yourself. No mom is perfect, so just enjoy the small things and love on your children for as long as they let you!

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