On the morning of October 22, 2019, Women In Bio-Capital Region hosted an event at the University of Maryland, Baltimore entitled, “Family Matters: A Facilitated Discussion on Lessons Learned in Balancing Work and Family“. A panel of successful women who have “been there, done that” and “are there, doing that” shared their thoughts on balancing their careers with responsibilities to their families -- from children to aging parents.
The panelists were Julie Rosen, Ph.D., the Executive Director for Medical Research & Scientific Publications for the University of Maryland School of Medicine and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ob/Gyn & Reproductive Sciences; Elizabeth M. Miclette, Director, Human Resources at Emergent BioSolutions; Judith (Judy) McCorry, Quality Assurance Director at Emergent BioSolutions, Bayview; and Chloe Alexandre, Instructor at the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Department.
There was an open, honest, and lively discussion around what can be a difficult subject to talk about. Key takeaways are provided below.
-Set Expectations. Set them with your family, your work, and importantly, yourself. Know your non-negotiables when it comes to what you need to do for your family. The non-negotiables are different for everyone. Most likely, those non-negotiables will come into conflict with work responsibilities. In a perfect world, family commitments wouldn't affect work, but this is not a perfect world. Accept the known ramifications that family commitments will have on your job and career.
-Understand Work-Life Synchronization vs. Balance. There will be times when work will consume 80% of you and times when family will.
-Have a Tribe. Marshall support for you and your family. If you're lucky enough to have family around, that's great. Many don't. Surround yourself with friends, neighbors, and colleagues who will support you and your goals.
-Augment Your Tribe. Don't forget about other resources that could help. Sites like Care.com nationally and Nap.com in Baltimore can help find qualified, trustworthy individuals to augment your tribe. Care.com helps with children and aging adults. For children, pediatricians and schools / parent-teacher associations are likely eager to provide solid information, resources, and advice.
-Put Technology to Work. Get comfortable on Skype and using the mute button. Use the “block time” function on your calendar to not allow others to schedule you during times when you have family commitments and use it to help remind you to leave on time!
-For the Little Ones: if your child goes to daycare, they will likely be sick... for a straight year (well, it might feel like it at least). Mommy guilt could happen at any time - - like that time when your coworker took the day off to be with his sick cat and you didn't even though your child was sick; remember that having non-negotiables also means having negotiables, and give yourself a break.
Capital Region: Work Life Balance Event
- Get comfortable with your house being dirty.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help! No one can do it all.
- Have lan Cs. It's easier to run through Plan A and Plan B than you'd think.
- If you are in a leadership role, set a workplace culture that eases some of these tensions... and remember to walk the walk!
- Make sure to take time for self-care and to be alone with your partner, if you have one.