Working while mom-ing is a hot-button issue.
When you become a mom, your life changes in so many ways. What once seemed like a healthy work/life balance can start to feel out of whack after becoming a parent. Many moms are looking to readjust the career sails during this new, baby-filled phase of life.
The good news is that many employers are open to changes that better serve you as a mom. But it’s up to you to boldly go after that new balance for yourself.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you negotiate a better balance at work:
First, don’t be afraid to ask
HR managers unanimously agree: most companies would rather keep a good employee than have to find a new one. There’s much more wiggle room in your contact than you probably realize.
As long as you’re respectful, asking to renegotiate your contract to include some mom-related perks is perfectly okay! It can be uncomfortable to have that initial conversation, but it’s so worth it.
Think about it…
The worst that can happen is your employer says “no”...and then your life quickly goes back to exactly the same as it is now.
The best that can happen? Is that you get exactly what you ask for.
Downside: zero. Potential upside: a million bazillion.
If you find fear creeping in when you think about negotiating, try thinking of it as a collaboration instead. Both parties want the same thing, after all: to keep your brilliant mom-self happily working for their company.
Before the meeting
Get clear on what you want
Motherhood affects everyone differently. Some working moms crave more time at home while others want a higher salary to support the new little one.
Before you sit down with your boss or an HR rep, get very clear on what you want. Not what the average mom might want, but YOU, specifically.
What would your dream outcome look like? Make sure you know that going in, even though you may not get everything you ask for. (More on that in a minute.)
Do your research
It’s helpful to have a sense of context while thinking through your requests.
Research which perks are common both within your company and your industry as a whole. If you provide evidence that another coworker has been offered work-from-home time or other women in your industry receive daycare stipends, it strengthens your argument.
Pitch from your boss’s perspective
Once you know what you want and what’s common in your industry, prepare your pitch with your employer in mind.
Consider these two requests:
“Now that I’m a mom, my schedule’s changed in a big way. Early starts are tough and I’d really like more time with my son in the morning. Any chance I could start work later?”
“Now that I’m a mom, my schedule’s changed in a big way. I want to maintain high quality of my work, and I think a work schedule that better matches my personal life will help me be more productive and focused. Can we talk about ways to make that happen?”
Which would you be more likely to approve, if you were the boss? Chances are, you’d approve #2, because it presents a clear benefit to you as the employer.
Positioning your requests in a way that benefits your company shows you value their perspective, which will make them more open to hearing your perspective.
“Working mom” perks to consider
Every company, industry, and mom is different. But here are a bunch of mom-friendly perks to keep in mind as you’re mapping out your requests:
Job sharing is a relatively new trend that a lot of working moms are loving. When you job-share, you split the responsibilities of one full-time position with one or more other employees.
There are many ways you can split up a role:
- By days (You work Monday and Thursday, your partner works Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday)
- By hours (You work 8am-12pm, your partner works 1pm-5pm)
- By responsibilities (You teach your classroom the English and History lessons, your partner teaches Math and Science)
If this sounds like a route you’d like to go down, do what you can to make it easy for your employer to say “yes”. If you can do things like:
- Put together a tight proposal on what hours you would work
- Find your perfect partner (could be a current colleague, a professional you trust, or through a site like MomCorps)
- Know what salary and benefits you’ll both ask for
For more tips about making job-sharing work for you, check out this great article from Harvard Business Review.
If job-sharing isn’t the right fit, consider if you’d benefit from changing your work hours.
Maybe you want to cut down by a few hours each week or even bump down to part-time.
Or maybe you’d love more flexible options (like the ability to work on the weekend to make up time).
It’s worth asking your employer what opportunities are available to help you make the best choice for you.
Thanks to technology, it’s possible to work from just about anywhere with an internet connection.
How much face-to-face interaction does your job actually need? Consider whether working from home one or more days a week would be feasible for your role and your needs.
Every raise compounds to increase your lifetime earning potential. If you want to better financially provide for your growing family, it may be time to ask for a salary increase.
Check out websites like glassdoor.com, ziprecruiter.com, or payscale.com to research the salary range for your position. And for more tips on asking for a raise, check out this great article by Bustle.
Most health insurance options are standard throughout a company so flexibility may be limited. But consider other potential perks, like contributions to a health savings account or employer-provided disability insurance.
Your baby’s going to need you around for a long, long time. It’s worth asking if there are any wellness programs you can take advantage of. You could be entitled to things like free flu shots, lower insurance premiums after a health-risk assessment, even gym memberships or stress relief classes.
It’s often easier for HR managers to approve additional vacation days than a salary increase.
Asking for a few additional vacation days can really add up over the years — every little bit counts when you’re a mom!
Does your company provide free childcare services to employees? Do they have relationships with local daycare that offer employees a reduced rate? Will they compensate moms for a portion of their childcare expenses?
It’s good to get a firm handle on what kind of assistance your company provides.
Mom mentorship opportunities
Working moms are the only ones who really know what the pace is like. So it could be great for a chance to learn from a woman who’s been there.
If there’s a powerhouse mom in the executive suite at your company, you could explore whether there are any mentorship opportunities available.
Breaks and boundaries
Consider whether you need to negotiate for clearer boundaries around what’s expected of you. Are you okay with colleagues contacting you outside of work hours? Or are your nights and weekends your own, where you’ll never answer a work call or email?
On the flipside, having a dedicated morning or afternoon break to check in with your nanny or child can be a nice perk for a mom to have.
Offer Plan B
It’s important to go into your negotiation with a clear idea of what you want. But it’s also helpful to have a backup plan, if your dream scenario isn’t possible.
You always want to ask for what you really want...but secretly know the minimum you’d be satisfied with.
For example, maybe you really want to work from home three days a week, but you’d be satisfied with only working one. That way, you’ll know how to respond if your HR rep counters with less than what you ask for.
If your employer shows resistance to your requests, offering a trial period can be a great way to try solutions short-term. Maybe you test out working from 7:30 am-3:30 pm and then evaluate the arrangement 1-3 months down the road. This is always a good option to keep in your back pocket!
Not just for moms
We work mainly with moms here at Dooli™, but it’s important to note...
That these tips aren’t just for working moms, but working dads, too!
The workplace is changing and benefits like paternity leave and flextime for dads are becoming more commonplace (it’s about time, right?)
Share these ideas with the dads you know, too! Every parent can use some help making that work/life balance a little sweeter.
Another way to make parenthood easier...
It’s not quite a two-day workweek, but the Diaper Genie® Compatible Bag Adapter definitely makes mom life simpler! Skip the pail-brand refills and use whatever bag you have lying around the house. That means less waste in landfills and more money in your pocket.
I’m no master negotiator, but I believe in the HR world, they call that a win-win. :)