Last week, we gathered on Zoom with Vivvi’s Head of Family Experience Gretchen Richer, the genius that is author Lauren Smith Brody, a Senior Director Client Services/ Vivvi parent Tina Magan, and Hatch’s very own VP of Brand Marketing, Katie Goldsmith to discuss Child Care 101 in the Fifth Trimester. Attendees from Virginia to Seattle to…France (!) got a front-row seat to an inspired conversation about going back to work post-maternity leave. And the learnings? Endless. Here, 9 key takeaways (plus the video at the bottom for those who couldn’t catch us live).
1. Build connections.
Asking for help is critical, especially when going back to work. “When I went back to work after having my first child,” Katie says, “I called a bunch of moms that I really respected in my industry who had children under one or two years old. I just asked all my biggest fears and logistical questions and got little nuggets from each person. It’s been one of the most helpful things that I’ve done.”
2. You don’t have to follow someone else’s journey.
When listening to other parents’ stories, remember to quilt the parts you love from each person’s together. “You can filter in what you get, the yuck from the yum vibe,” Gretchen says about asking parents for advice “You can pick and choose the journey that makes sense for you. You don’t have to follow someone else’s journey. Cherry-pick across that.”
3. Childcare choices are not linear.
“We lead with our mission to meet families where they are,” they say, “and that can be defined in a variety of ways, whether physical, emotional, or developmental. During the pandemic, it meant we needed to pivot to support families at home, so we grew our service and now operate in homes across the country. Each family’s child care and learning journey is unique, so on any given day meeting our families where they are can mean teachers supporting a child in reaching their next milestone, or partnering with a parent on a new sleep schedule, or starting solids. To us, there are no insignificant moments in a child’s day, and no question is too small.”
4. The cost convo is real(ly hard)
“We knew based on our needs, a nanny was the best choice for our family,” Katie said, “But I struggled to make peace with the cost against my take-home salary (ie, after taxes). After years of supporting myself, and then contributing to our family, I felt like I was barely bringing anything home after covering our childcare costs.” It’s an emotional part of the journey, yes, but as Lauren echos, childcare choices shouldn’t be framed as though it’s netting one person’s salary. “Do everything you can to try to think of child care as being a percentage of your total household income,” Lauren says. It’s not only on you.
5. Your partner is not a magician.
“You have to make it visible,” Lauren says. “If you want your partner to share in the work that is in your head, your partner has to know that it exists.” Gretchen continues, “We sometimes think that our partners magically know exactly what we want. To be able to truly advocate for what you need at home is important.”
6. Transparency is key.
Say what you mean and mean what you say when it comes to work conversations. “The more transparent you are about what you need, the more that your bosses have the opportunity to rise to the challenge and support you,” Katie says. That means don’t set up the conversation with an apology, but set it up standing firm, knowing your worth.
7. Advocacy is not just for you.
When you advocate for yourself as an expecting or new mom, remember before walking into the office (or signing on to the Zoom), this isn’t only about you. “You are advocating for all moms,” Lauren says, “Which means you’re really advocating for all parents. And if you’re advocating for all parents, you’re really advocating for everyone who’s a caregiver. And I challenge you to find a single person you work with who does not care for someone in some way, even if the someone they’re caring for is themselves.” She continues, “It’s so important that we treat these issues of flexibility comprehensively and with access to all to avoid perpetuating some of the stigma that is very real.” When moms win, we all win
8. Work/Life Balance is a balancing act.
“I knew I was going to have to put those parameters in place,” Tina, a Vivvi parent said. “ For Tina, this included blocking her calendar during certain key hours. “But I always have that guilt,” she confesses. “I’m not there to see all those milestones. But for me, that’s okay, because I know she’s in a happy learning environment at Vivvi. I have to balance.”
9. This isn’t over.
Just ask Lauren. She wrote an entire book on it . The conversation surrounding working parents and childcare choices doesn’t stop at any trimester. It’s a constantly evolving, shifting process. Ride the wave. As Lauren says so brilliantly in her book: ““Here are your magic words for when you can’t employ your parachute quickly enough and (horrors) you’ve had a public, emotional outburst: “Yes, I am struggling a bit with this transition, but I am also confident that things will improve.”
You can watch the entire conversation here:
This article was written in partnership with Vivvi.