How to Manage Being a Working Mother With Boundaries Your Company Respects

Sponsored by Freddie Mac

Shan Teel

Photo courtesy of Shan Teel’s daughter, Cori, and originally for the Freddie Career Site.

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May 27, 2024 at 12:36PM UTC

Work-life balance is key to a fulfilling career but, unfortunately, few Americans have figured it out. Companies like Freddie Mac prioritize the accessibility of a healthy work-life balance for their employees. Women at the company can decide what that balance looks like for themselves.

“For me, balance means establishing boundaries so that I am not taking on more than I can handle,” says Shan Teel, director of the Enterprise Talent Segment for Freddie Mac. “It also means prioritizing relaxation and self-care activities daily because taking care of myself helps me function best in all of my roles.”

We caught up with Teel to talk more about how she balances her time, what her typical day looks like and how Freddie Mac supports her. Here’s what she told us.

Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role, how long have you been in this role and what were you doing previously?

In my current role, for the past two years, I've been responsible for evolving and elevating the performance of Freddie Mac’s talent acquisition strategy with a keen focus on diversity, while leading the talent acquisition initiatives for all corporate functions and executive recruiting. Prior to Freddie Mac, I was the senior manager of Technology Global Talent Acquisition at Verizon.

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 and I are great at dividing the labor in our household. I put everything for work and the kids on the same calendar.

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

That you can have it all. You are constantly making sacrifices somewhere to get it all done.

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

"Come as you are and do what you love" is a guiding motto at Freddie Mac. 

My favorite aspect of it is that we really encourage our employees to bring their whole selves to work. I feel supported in achieving balance by our benefit offerings, which focus on my whole family's life and wellness. Also, our leadership team is consistently checking in to see how I am doing at work and home and encouraging us to take time off.

What’s your go-to stress-relief activity or routine?

Walking, meditating and reading alone in the morning.

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

I make sure we have dinner together at the same time every day. That means, some days, I have to walk away and log back on later. It also means blocking off time on the calendar as soon as I know of personal events or appointments, as well as having a separate workspace and keeping electronics there.

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

I prepared early — long before the nesting stage kicked in. You are not in control of any of your pregnancies or the child you will give birth to. Both will humble you. I ended up on bedrest at seven months, had to have a C-section and my child has special needs.

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

Eight weeks, and it was heartbreaking. At the time, I did not work for a leader that had children, so it was challenging to say the least.

What type of programs does Freddie Mac offer to new and expectant mothers? 

At Freddie Mac, birthmothers are eligible for short-term disability for six to eight weeks, depending on the type of delivery. We also have a program called Pacify, which offers free, on-demand access to maternal and pediatric experts, such as nurses and lactation consultants.

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

At Freddie Mac, if you are having or adopting a baby, we offer best-in-class benefits and resources to our employees. You can take up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave if you are the birth mother (in addition to six to eight weeks of short-term disability) or if you are supporting a wife or domestic partner who gave birth to a child. Paid parental leave is also available for the primary and non-primary caregivers of an adopted child.

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

As a mom, I am especially good at advocating for my children and putting them first. At work, I am good at building and leading effective teams.

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

Learn from others. I have never been afraid of asking others how they get it done. It can be hard to admit that we don’t have it all together, but I have learned so much about being a mother from my tribe and intuition.


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