You Don’t Need to Be Balanced All the Time to Succeed: Advice for My Fellow Parents, From a Director

Sponsored by Renaissance Learning

Anna Eddie, Director of Customer Deployment at Renaissance Learning

Photo Courtesy of Lexi Renae Studios.

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May 22, 2024 at 2:30AM UTC

“Find your working mom community,” says Anna Eddie, Director of Customer Deployment at Renaissance Learning, where she manages a team that ensures customers are set up to deploy their education solutions seamlessly. “Simply having conversations with other moms having the same challenges or feelings makes a huge difference in your perspective. But, you also need to give yourself grace, set boundaries and ask for help.”

Eddie definitely knows the importance of finding support and asking for help when needed, which are themes woven throughout her professional and personal life. For instance, while Eddie has been with Renaissance for nearly four years — bringing with her experience in operations at a public charter school — she’s held her current title for about six months. 

The transition into her current role was a smooth one because she’s surrounded by support: both at Renaissance and at home. Personally, “my husband is my partner in work-life balance,” shares Eddie. And, at work, “I have a great team who supports each other,” she tells us. “We are transparent about our needs and supportive when one person needs to step out. It helps because most of my team also have kids, so they completely understand when you have to drop everything and go to your children, and they understand that you shouldn’t feel bad about that!”

One example of her amazing support systems at Renaissance occurred after she came back from maternity leave with her youngest son. At this point, Eddie founded the Workin' Moms of Renaissance Employee Resource Group. Today, the group has over 115 employees in different stages of motherhood. The group provides support via regular meetings, activities and partnering with Human Resources (HR). “We also share stories, provide ideas and commiserate around the joys and challenges of being a working mom,” Eddie explains.

Here, Eddie talks to us about her career journey as a working mom, how she manages to maintain a work-life balance, how Renaissance supported her maternity leave and more.

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

As a mom, I find joy in the innocence of meeting my boys where they are. I think each age is unique and goes by so fast. I also love creating memories with my kids, whether it's dancing to Encanto in the kitchen or going sledding in the winter. I also am a great planner and multi-tasker. I leverage my professional strengths of project planning and execution and use them to help me get my mom tasks done.

At work, I use my multi-tasker abilities to thrive in the busyness of my days. I also love connecting with people. I find joy in learning about their interests and career goals — and helping them accomplish those. I also love a good rabbit hole to discover the "why" behind a process or approach, followed by determining what improvements to make.

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

Balance to me is being okay with imperfection and not having full control. When I transitioned back to work after having my first son, I quickly realized that stress and a bit of chaos was just the new normal. But, what is not normal is living in an extreme amount of this stress and chaos.

Balance is the lack of extreme, and there is no such thing as remaining balanced all the time. Most days I am balanced, and I rarely need to work at night, especially during the time my kids are home and awake. I am able to focus my attention on my kiddos when they are with me because they deserve it, and so do I.

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

To me, the misconception is that you are either achieving balance or you are not. The reality is that balance is fluid. You may start your day feeling very positive and balanced, and, as a working mom, that may get totally turned upside down when, for example, your children get sick after breakfast. You aren't striving for perfection, and that is okay.

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

I have set some fairly intentional boundaries. I have a work phone and a personal phone, which doesn’t have my work email on it. I leave my work phone on my desk at the end of the day and check it maybe once before bed to make sure there is nothing urgent. I am confident that those few who have my personal number can get a hold of me after hours, if needed.

I also am firm with myself about not working during the end of my day and when my kids go to sleep. My time with my children is precious, and I want to do everything possible to give them my attention.

I also am very transparent with my leader. For example, babies in their first year have a lot of doctor appointments (almost monthly). I shared with her that this was something I would have, and she supported that. Being upfront helps, and communication is key!

It seems like Renaissance really supports you as a parent! Can you tell us more about this supportive culture and how Renaissance aids you in achieving balance?

Renaissance creates a culture that allows me to feel successful as a professional and as a mom. Renaissance puts people first and that directly impacted my ability to find as much balance as possible while juggling all my priorities.

Leaders get to know you as people — asking what your interests are, who you are outside of work, what drives you and your kids’ names. The creation and support around my Workin' Mom's group is a perfect example. We partner with HR and leaders on ways to continue driving a supportive culture of working moms at Renaissance. They always listen, ask for our suggestions and make changes for improvement.

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

Oh, maternity leave is hard! I asked as many questions as I could from HR, other colleagues and my leader. I also made lists and a calendar. The biggest advice is that there are many things you won't know, and it is okay to ask. Find your work support system and lean on them. I made very clear plans on who was covering my work when I was gone, which allowed me to leave feeling incredibly confident. I didn't think about work much at all over my time — and that is how it should be!

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

I was on maternity leave for four months consecutively, and then I took Fridays off for the first three months after returning. It was hard to return to work with the emotions of being away from my little one, trying to schedule around pumping and eating and then figuring out where to start actual work. I was overwhelmed with the number of emails and trying to get caught up on what I had missed. However, I quickly realized these feelings were okay and normal.

My biggest advice is to reserve time on your first day back with a mom friend at work. I spent an hour with a colleague talking about all of the feelings I was having, and those conversations are key!

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

Renaissance cares about their people! The parental leave is incredible, there are many remote-work options, strong healthcare options and Renaissance has great coaching! There is a robust maternity leave group in HR that walks you through all of the options and guides decisions. We also have a great partnership with Milk Stork, which provides support to moms traveling and shipping breastmilk back. New parents at Renaissance get a gift when a baby is born or adopted. 

Our Workin' Moms of Renaissance is a GREAT resource that all expecting parents are informed of, too. We often welcome new members who are pregnant so they have a group to lean on before the baby is here, and we are eagerly waiting to support them when they come back to work.

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