How Kids at Work Helps Us All

Why I am a Better Working Mom Because of My Job

Last night as I was putting my daughter to bed, I explained to her that I was going away for work that next morning.  Ryleigh is almost 3 and understands work as a place that working mother’s go.  I have an office, but work in this case was something different for me.  My work takes me many different places outside of the traditional office, far from working from home.  Work this week takes me to both coasts:  Washington DC where I’m keynote speaking at the Social Matters Conference and then Las Vegas for the HR Technology Conference and HR Evolution.

Working Mothers, Working Women Take to the Air

So I explained to Ryleigh that work wasn’t just my office, I was in fact traveling on an airplane and that is something she absolutely understands.  My daughter is well-traveled having flown on a plane in her just under three years more than I did my first 26.  In fact, I had never flown in an airplane until my senior year when I traveled to Seattle for my first spring break.  But now, travel via airplane is an almost weekly occurrence in our household.  Something that Ryleigh is well aware.  My husband flies most weeks to a destination Monday thru Thursday as he is working with a large hospital conglomerate.  Obviously, my speaking takes me various places many of which require an airplane to visit.  And so our lives must remain flexible to adapt to his as well as my schedule.

Moms at Work Understand Kids at Work

It’s not uncommon for me to take a conference call, business meeting or phone call with my daughter.  She’s sat in more coffee shops, board rooms, and business meetings than most college grads.  Early on I was embarrassed often profusely apologizing for my daughter if a client or contact happened to call while my daughter was fussing or talking in the background.

One of my first paid speaking gigs resulted in an impromptu phone call.  A chamber of commerce had contacted me via email to discuss my availability to provide paid training.  After some conversation that day, they called unexpectedly.  My daughter, who was probably 6 months at the time, was crying like something crazy.  She was tired, and it was way past her nap time.

I answered the phone and was surprised that the chamber’s board of directors was on the line wanting to spend a few moments to ask me some additional questions, and if I was available.  In the background was my daughter fussing and crying away.  I asked politely if they could hold.  I muted the phone and promptly put her down for a nap.  When I returned to the phone, I answered their questions, did my best, and waited for their decision.

Working with Kids- The Unseen Benefits

It was only several months later that I received a personal phone call from one of the board members from the chamber.  He enjoyed my session and took the time to tell me that the board was impressed with the way I handled their impromptu phone call.  My dedication and ability to be both a mom as well as a business leader sealed the deal in having me work with them.

I had forgotten what had transpired until he had reminded me at that moment.  Of course I was proud.  It was the first time I felt like I could really have it all.  And it’s because of that experience that drives me to be open, honest, and upfront about being a parent first and a business professional second.  I won’t apologize or feel guilty because I am a better parent not only because of my job but because of the life that my husband and I live.

Juggling Work and Family

Some days are not always easy.  And yesterday was one of those days.  As I picked up Ryleigh from daycare we rushed to the office and around town to run errands before I left on my flight.  But I wouldn’t trade the experience and opportunity being a mom or doing what I do.


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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