“Mother is a verb. It’s something you do. Not just who you are.” — Dorothy Canfield Fisher
It’s the end of February, which means International Women’s Day (March 8) is coming soon. Since many women are mothers, we thought it would be the ideal time to discuss how we can better support mothers in the workplace.
According to Stats Can, 88% of Canadian mothers took maternity leave between 2012-2017. As Canadians, we are fortunate to have parental leave for 12 to 18 months. No employer is allowed to deny a parent this time off to spend with their newborn child. That said, some mothers elect to take a shorter leave, or go back part-time.
Regardless of how far we believe we have progressed, many women still believe that taking maternity leave will hurt their careers. The thought is still that women must choose: a family or a career.
Many women worry that having children will set their careers back. But this isn’t a problem for mothers to fix. It’s one for employers to solve for mothers. Women are valuable employees, not a liability because they might become pregnant. Mothers are creating future generations who will have jobs and participate in the economy, too.
According to Nielson, Canadian women account for 60% of primary shoppers in their households. We can imagine that many of these women are shopping or making purchasing decisions for their families. So, while a woman is off on maternity leave or working from home to have a better work-life balance, she is buying goods and services – which in turn provides jobs for others.
Workplaces need to make room for mothers to do their jobs and take care of and raise their families. Allowing women to work remotely or hybrid, is a start. This obviously applies to those who work in office settings.
Employers can help mothers on mat leave by keeping them in the loop occasionally regarding their job, so that they’re not lost when they return. They should also be allowed to work part-time if they wish, or to participate in training during their time off so they are fresh and caught up when they return full-time.
While we recognize that everyone is in different situations and not everyone has the support needed to “do it all,” women shouldn’t put off having a family (if they really want one) because they are afraid it will ruin their career.
For starters, you need to have a family when it’s right for YOU, not when it’s right for your job. Staff Shop Founder and CEO, Jennifer Ménard-Shand knew that having children in her 20s wouldn’t have worked. But now, at the age of 38 she is a grateful mother of two under two, while still running a successful business and household. Obviously, from the outside looking in you might be wondering how she does it. The truth is, she is fortunate to have a lot of support at home and at work, making the decision to have a family while working a no-brainer. However, she made sure she had the support first. Jennifer realized early on that having it all is possible – but she also believes that one can’t usually have it all at the same time. Planning and preparation in advance of having children to test the impact was critical to her success.
She has also discovered some great resources, products and services that have made working and parenting easier.
- Amazon Registry – there’s nothing more convenient for all parties than having gifts delivered to your home and avoiding duplicates or waste due to items you don’t need or want.
- Night Nurse or Sleep Trainer – can be the difference between a child sleeping in their crib, happily, without fussing from day 1 vs years of sleepless, disruptive nights and schedules.
- Lactation Consultant and/or Organics Best – for those who struggle to breastfeed (DO NOT beat yourself up – fed is best and the obsession I had with breastfeeding only landed my first baby in the hospital dehydrated). This is one of my go-to suppliers for new mothers who are looking for the healthiest alternatives to breast milk. No sugars, chemicals, or recalls, just pure organics and the highest food standards.
- Diaper Genie – there is no better option to manage diaper waste and odour.
- Dr. Brown’s Baby Bottles – specially patented with a two-piece internal vent system that eliminates air and provides vacuum free feeding, allowing your baby to feed comfortably. This reduces air bubble oxidation and cranky stomachs.
- CanadianNanny.ca – best site to source qualified individuals who can help develop your children, grocery shop, clean, cook, do laundry while caring for your children at very reasonable costs (also tax deductible) and often the same price as daycares, or cheaper depending on your needs.
- Take advantage of Government Maternal & Paternal Leave Support
- Meal Support/Companies – can be a great alternative to spending the little spare time you have left prepping meals daily.
- Use your vacation and benefits Mom! Book that massage, chiro, or therapy session. Go for a walk, listen to music, schedule date nights and vacations. Please take care of yourself – you are the most worthy of it all in your household. Without you, there is no family.
- Talk to other mothers who are happy to help, including Founder & CEO Jennifer Ménard-Shand, who invites you to learn more 🙂
In addition to being a Mom and CEO, Jennifer also finds time (somehow!) to do speaking engagements. She will be speaking on the topic of supporting mothers in the workplace a lot this year. If you would like to book her, visit her Speaker Pages for details.
And for Staff Shop, as always, you can join us or hire us! Contact us today to get started!