Expedia Group Dads Share the Power of Paternity Leave

Lauren von Stackelberg | Director, Industry Relations in London

Countries around the world mark Father’s Day on different dates and at least 86 nations will be observing the occasion the week of June 16th. Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the dads in our lives and an opportunity to reflect on how we support not only fathers in the workplace, but families at home.

According to a 2016 report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, 41% of Americans have employers that provide paid paternity leave to some workers, and only 9% work for companies that provide paid paternity leave to all. And even when a company offers leave, many men are reluctant to take the time off, as one in three men said that they feared the stigma associated with paternity leave.

Expedia Group has one of the most comprehensive paternity leave plans today to provide dads with time to bond with their newborns, support their family, and enable their partners to return to the work force to support gender equality. Anyone who has spent long hours with an infant knows the joys of watching momentous milestones, from first smiles to first steps, and the many challenging hours spent trying to get them to eat and sleep.

Parenting is hard, wonderful, messy, fulfilling and never boring. On this Father’s Day, we celebrate all the amazing dads of Expedia Group, and those who shared their paternity leave story. Enjoy!

Chris Hodges | Director, Business Development

I feel so lucky that I was able to take advantage of paternity leave after the birth of my daughter Grace. For me to be able to spend quality time with my wife and newborn in those precious early stages of life allowed me to create bonding moments that are priceless. I was initially nervous to go out on leave, but I had so much support from my boss and my team and I’m so grateful for that. And am excited to be taking pat leave again in a couple of months when my twins are born.

Nicolas Grande | Area Manager, MM Argentina

At the end of 2018, I faced one of the most difficult challenges in my life when my third child was born–I needed to help my wife as well as support my other kids. Even though I knew we had the paternity leave benefit, it took me a while to make the decision to use it. Now, I can say the paternity leave was a key moment both in my life and my professional career. I was able to enjoy my newborn and all of my family without worrying about my job, as I was supported by my Manager and all my team. I believe life is about moments–I strongly encourage you to fully enjoy the most important ones.

Nico Daudin | Senior Director, Program Development

I went on paternity leave in 2018 to take care of my first son. I was a bit afraid at first to take the time off. I had a ton of questions that were racing in my head: Would I know how to handle parenting alone? Would my team be ok? Would it impact my career negatively? However, thanks to the support of my boss, my team and the other product leaders, I took it and couldn’t be more grateful that I did!

Not only was I able to create a special bond with my son, but the time off also helped my career. It empowered everyone on my team to be even more autonomous, which increased their performance. It also gave me the time to really think about our product strategy and how to improve our overall performance. That’s a pretty amazing ROI when you think about it.

Jonathan Harris | Senior Manager, Business Development and Initiatives

I’m so grateful that the company has a culture where taking time off to nurture a baby is not only offered for men, but strongly encouraged. The fact that several senior leaders and members of my team had already paved the way with their own leave made my transition easier. I was able to completely disconnect for the full 12 weeks, although spending entire days with my daughter Erika felt like anything but “time off” – she is a far more demanding boss than anyone I have worked for at LPS!

Mike Doyle | Director, Market Management

My life got turned upside down in June 2017 with the birth of triplets. Yes, triplets. With no family living nearby, my wife and I had no idea how we would be able to handle this. It would have to be the ultimate team effort and would require time to get in sync with each other. Thankfully, we have a great paternity leave benefit at Expedia Group and my boss was fully supportive of me taking the full leave in order to bond with my new family. This afforded me the time needed to adjust to a “new normal.” It allowed me to spend quality time bonding with my kids while learning how to be a triplet parent. (Honestly though, I’m still learning). I felt no pressure from the workplace while I was out. When I came back to work, I got a great welcome from the Denver team and was allowed to gradually acclimate back into my role. I’m grateful for having this benefit – and the support to be able to use it.

Nicholas Ursini | Director, Strategic Accounts

We are fortunate to work for a company that offers a generous parental leave policy and it seems like it should be a no brainer decision, but I still was uncertain about taking the time off! Having an open dialogue and having overwhelming support from my leadership really helped me take paternity leave. Looking back, the time I had with my wife and son Theo was irreplaceable! It also helped reduce pressure for my wife, who had to go back to work (although she did check in on us a lot, to make sure we were both alive)!

Shuhei Kondo | LPA II, MO Kuala Lumpur

When I had my second child, I couldn’t take long leave due to my previous company’s benefit/policy. It was hard for my wife to take care of 2 kids alone as our family is living far away. Four years later, when our third child was born, I was able to spend quality time with our new family member as well as my wife, son and second daughter. I am grateful that our company offers such a great benefit to even fathers. I had a great time with my kids.

Jeffrey Scheidt | Area Manager, MM US Casino Markets

Our paternity leave at Expedia Group has been such a blessing, as I’ve recently returned to work from my second paternity leave. Taking the full 12 weeks of new parent leave allowed for both myself and my wife to adjust to our new journey of parenthood while embracing every moment of our kids. Being home to catch their milestone achievements, like the first laugh or the first time they rolled over, are moments that I’ll never forget and am extremely grateful to have.
 

Sachin Kumar | LPA III, MO Gurgaon

“Fatherhood is a feeling which cannot be put into words appropriately, ’til the day it’s experienced”. This was something I was told by my father and it was in the month of February 2019 when I really understood it. Since it’s a first time feeling, I wasn’t sure how it would be or how I’d be able to care for my child. Living away from my parents, with no previous experience, I was a bit nervous, curious, and excited at the same time. Being blessed with a son, he has brought a sea of change into our lives in terms of everything that we do. He has become the center of our lives, bringing all positive changes to our relationship and marriage. There has been so much learning in these first three months: my ability to communicate has improved by trying to understand my newborn son’s crying, cooing, and gurgling! In short, it’s a unique, ongoing experience and I’m loving every bit of it. I hold heartfelt gratitude that Expedia has supported these initial days of parenthood in such a beautiful way so that I could give undivided attention to my son during the very early days of infancy.

David Hamblin | Vice President, MM APAC

Taking paternity leave was an amazing experience and opportunity to spend time not only with my daughter, but also bonding as a family. It was a really important period for all of us to spend some quality, family-focused time. Taking paternity leave when Aliya was just 3-months old, I could also see the difference it made in my relationship with her (I got my first “Dada” before going back to work). It’s a priceless time that I’m really thankful to have had. My team, manager, and peers were fantastic in supporting me to really switch off and fully focus on my wife, son, and new daughter.

Paternity leave: a great employee benefit

Johan Hallgren | Analytics Data & Strategy Manager (Lodging) in Seoul, South Korea

My role in Expedia Group

I started my Expedia Group career in Geneva (Switzerland), covering lodging in the Asia-Pacific region. However, I requested country reassignment when my wife got the opportunity to relocate to South Korea for a new position with the United Nations.

My smooth transfer was concrete proof to me that Expedia Group with its global presence is a great long-term career platform, especially with my family’s need to relocate every few years.

I am happy to say that I love my job. The role gives great exposure, close working relationships with top leadership, and excellent opportunities to drive results and influence company direction.

I am involved in almost every commercial topic imaginable like property acquisition strategy, headcount allocation, marketing, margins and competitive intelligence. Whilst projects most often start with deep analysis, recommendations and deck production for presentation to leadership, I am also often part of building technical solutions and implementing them across our 500+ APAC lodging organization.

This tangible implementation link after analysis is something I value tremendously, especially considering my previous work experiences in banking and finance where I constantly was missing this; I like to both plan and execute.

Meanwhile, South Korea is fantastic with absolutely wonderful people and indeed truck loads of Korean barbeque together with the occasional makgeolli (Korean rice wine). 감사합니다, Korea!

Work-life balance

Whilst I love my job and the company, I certainly love my wife and two kids even more. I want to spend all the time in the world with them, while exploring it together.

Being an expatriate family with frequent travel means that forging work-life balance is crucial for our children and us as a family unit. This is complicated further by the fact that our closest family members are spread across Europe and North America, whilst we live in Asia.

In practice, work-life balance is seldom easy to achieve on a daily basis. The exciting weekend trips and solid vacation blocks encouraged by the company are part of that puzzle. Right now, backyard Tokyo is a weekend family favourite; we cannot stop marvelling how perfectly run this megacity seems to be, and the food is top notch.

My wife & daughter en route to Sweden for baby delivery at 36 weeks.

Another good example of how Expedia Group has been a strong enabler of work-life balance was when we had the chance to return to Sweden for the birth of my second daughter – the company paternity leave benefit was crucial in making our temporary stay there a reality.

We flew back when my wife was 36 weeks pregnant. I have to admit I was nervous, but my wife was a champ!

My paternity leave

My 3-month paternity leave was key in helping our family land well with our new child, while also experiencing the best of Sweden!

We spent plenty of time with family enjoying Swedish nature, Christmas snow, and amazing cuisine, including meatballs a plenty and more than a few Swedish pizzas (only for the true pizza connoisseur).

My oldest daughter has 10 cousins in Sweden, so she could practice her Swedish a lot, and even showed them how to properly use chopsticks.

My oldest daughter (4.5 years) showing her chopsticks skills

All in all, it was a wonderful and tremendously rewarding experience for the whole family to go back. The paternity leave also gave us plenty of time to readjust back to life in Korea before returning to work.

During this paternity leave in Sweden, I also managed to have some classic Swedish saunas with my brother, with a view over my childhood lake where we used to practise competitive rowing. This was indeed my ‘pappa tajm’ (dad time).

My brother’s sauna by the lake, with a free flow of refreshing barley based beverages to battle the Finnish/military grade sauna heat

The value of a good paternity leave policy

Paternity leave feels right to me from multiple angles (company, co-workers, family and society).

  • First off, backfilling the role of the father on leave creates an opportunity for others to grow and develop: as a knowledge-driven company, this can be very impactful indeed.
  • Secondly, it is almost a natural law that new children make parents less productive and worn down due to a lack of sleep. You need a break!
  • Thirdly, turnover and replacing skilled employees is very expensive and time consuming – I am convinced this policy creates loyalty and longer company tenures.
  • Fourthly, from a societal point of view, sharing the responsibilities of an infant more equitably means that a mother is much less likely to drop out of the workforce. It makes economic sense. By allowing mothers to return to the workforce if they wish, you also create employment opportunities for caretakers that in turn create job opportunities around us.

So, while it sadly is too uncommon globally, I think a solid paternity leave policy is a no-brainer and a ‘quadruple win’. To me it is hardly surprising that Expedia Group is a top employer given such benefits, they get it right.

In my specific case, Expedia Group managed to solve my 3-month absence elegantly, by temporarily bringing in cover from Geneva. My colleague Greg came to our APAC lodging headquarters in Singapore; read about his experiences.

While checking the occasional important e-mail to stay on top of things for my return, the company’s solution was great for letting me re-enter without a huge backlog of work hanging over my head. Luckily for both me and all the travellers around the world, the sun never sets on Expedia Group!

Open Internal Talent Markets Promote Opportunity and Employer Sentiment

Ryan Johne | Reporting & Analysis Manager, Expedia Group in Bellevue, Washington

One of the most stressful events in a professional’s career is changing jobs. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average US worker will have ten different jobs before the age of 40 – and that number is projected to rise!

Personally, I fall right into that average. I’ve had seven different roles across three different companies, and let’s just say I’m a far cry from my days of being 20-something. Each of my transitions has been for different reasons as well. I’ve left because I wasn’t happy, and I’ve left because I needed more money to support my growing family.  My most recent move in July was for a yet another new reason – more on that in a few paragraphs…

I’ve been with Expedia Group for over six years now, with no plans to go anywhere…from a company perspective. Expedia Group has a unique benefit that offers their employees a gargantuan pool of job opportunities across job functions, businesses units, and experiences.

At Expedia Group, we have an Open Internal Talent Market, which allows hiring managers to approach employees from other teams within the company. It also gives employees the chance to apply for internal jobs without the (sometimes) awkward conversation with their manager about looking for other opportunities. It may sound a bit unproductive to have several different business groups pining over the best talent in the organization, but it’s not. It gives employees a great opportunity to develop their skills while avoiding ramp-up time with a new company.

Most other large companies offer an open talent market as well, but together with the work/life balance and the rockstar benefits at Expedia Group, being able to try new roles and/or teams is, well…butter-cream frosting on an already delicious baked good (sorry – I’m such a dad).

Back to my most recent transition…

The past four years of my career, I was on Expedia Group’s Global Brand Marketing team. I ran ROI analytics for a large-budget TV advertiser. My college degree is in advertising and the bulk of my career is in analytics, so as one could infer, I had a BOAT-LOAD of passion for the role. To be frank, it was my dream job. I worked with wonderfully smart and fun people who had a similar passion for the advertising world, which led to excellent cutting-edge work, in my humble opinion.

A few weeks before my 4-year mark with the Brand team, I received an email from my [now] manager asking me if I’d be interested in exploring a new opportunity on her team. It was in the HR organization, which, to be frank (again), didn’t seem like a great idea given my history of being less than politically-correct at times. However, as she explained her vision for the team and for my role, I realized something: It’s not advertising I’m passionate about, I’m passionate about using analytics to solve complex business problems. This was a perfect opportunity to challenge myself and apply that mindset to a function with which I am not familiar at all.

So, I jumped, leaving the comfort of Brand Marketing for HR. I jumped, hoping a bungee cord made of analytics experience and dad-jokes would keep me from crashing into a rocky outcrop of uncertainty and potential HR nightmares, given my periodically insensitive humor. I jumped, and I’m so glad I did.

Something I learned along the way is taking risks, in general, to promote health and growth (actually bungee jumping, however, might not prove to be “healthy”). Someone once told me, “If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing” – I’m a firm believer in that mentality. As we all know, growing up is a part of life. But it took this experience to make me realize “growing up” is one of the biggest parts of life…and it never really stops. Thankfully though, “growing up” during adulthood doesn’t include nearly as much voice change.

Let’s be realistic; all jobs eventually run their course and we all move on to the next challenge (remember, I still need three more jobs before I’m 40 to beat the national average!). However, given how many unique opportunities there are at Expedia Group, I have no reason to look anywhere but internally when the time comes, making those risks a lot easier to handle…and hopefully there’s no bungee jumping involved.

3 Things I’ve Learned Since Joining Expedia Group

Becky Waller | Program Manager in Bellevue, WA

Becky Waller smilingI didn’t take a traditional route getting to Expedia Group. I’ve never coded anything. I’m not techy. I didn’t go to business school, nor did I ever think the idea sounded appealing until entering the corporate world.

Before joining the Expedia Group family as a Program Manager for Brand Expedia, I was a high school AP English teacher. At heart, I am a writer and I always will be. But when my career in education began to feel stale, I decided to take a flying leap into the private sector. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to convince people who had grown their entire careers in this world that my skills from public education would translate, but I knew that once I cleared that hurdle, I would be ready to take on the challenge.

I have to be honest – I had a lot of preconceived notions about what life at one of the world’s top travel giants was going to be like. I was right about a few things – namely, that people here LOVE to travel – but many of my ideas were, at best, misinformed.

So, what have I learned since joining this team back in February 2018?

1 ) People here are genuinely good people.

I had seen lots of movies in the 80s and 90s about corporate America. Everyone wore suits and carried briefcases. They were always in a hurry. Every woman wore shoulder pads (okay, maybe that was just in the 80s). People were ruthless and bloodthirsty, and they would stop at nothing to climb their way to the tippy top of the corporate ladder.

It’s not like that. Not even a little. My teammates are more kind, more caring, and more genuine than I would have thought possible. They return with gifts when they go on trips. They bring chocolate chip cookies and cheddar popcorn. When they show up with food to share, they never forget about the people on our team who are gluten-free, or who are vegetarians, or who just don’t like eating vegetables.

It’s been a refreshingly genuine experience coming to work for Expedia Group. I miss my friends that I taught with from my days as a teacher, but the relationships that I’ve built in a short amount of time at Expedia Group have made the career change an incredibly easy and rewarding one.

2 ) Not everyone in leadership here is male.

Again, before I came here my preconceived notions about the corporate world had me envisioning myself as one of only a handful of women swimming upstream against a raging river of Brooks Brothers suits, Louis Vuitton loafers, and male dominant egos.

I was, again, painfully mistaken. First of all, most people wear Star Wars t-shirts. Second, my boss is a fiercely intelligent and highly respected woman who handles herself incredibly well in any conference room. Her boss is a woman who is smart, kind, visionary, and a servant leader. The men in positions of leadership at Expedia Group that I have met are good at what they do, they are there for a reason, and they listen. It isn’t what I expected.

Expedia Group prides itself on its ability to recognize, reward, and promote people for their contributions and for their potential as leaders. A lot of time, the ones who are promoted are women and people of color. This is no accident. I’ve learned that in this world, our leadership at the top recognizes that when we have homogeneous leadership, we suffer from a lack of creativity and a deficit of new and fresh ideas. So to counteract that, they push to diversify leadership. I mean, it’s 2018, right? I think this company has figured that out and is actively working to fight the good fight.

3 ) A work/life balance is not only valued, it’s encouraged.

Becky Waller hikingEnding a 12-year career in teaching meant giving up a lot of time with my family. As a wife and a mother of two young children, I had a lot of soul-searching to do in order to arrive at the decision that I did. I had heard horror stories of promotion-hungry young millennials working 60 and 70 hour weeks and never taking a day of vacation in order to land the title that they were striving for.

That has not been my experience here. People work (I mean, you have to at some point, right?) and they dedicate a portion of their days to the company, but they also take time off and have flexible work schedules. Most people I associate with don’t work on the weekends – unless they want to. They don’t have a boss pressuring them to give up their Saturdays to wrap up a project before Monday. Expedia Group recognizes that it’s employees have families and hobbies and that we enjoy sleeping seven nights a week – sometimes for eight hours even!

When I’m at work, I put forth all my effort to bring about the best results I can for my team and for Brand Expedia. I want to be a high-functioning, high-performing member of an awesome team. But I also do a lot of backpacking and camping during the summer. I managed to take 3 separate backpacking trips with my daughter this past summer, a 10-day road trip down the 101 with my family to break in our new camping trailer, and since my team works from home on Fridays, I get to have breakfast with my kids, drop them at school, and then spend the evening with my daughter in Seattle for her ballet class every Friday.

From the top down, I’ve found life at Expedia Group to be extremely friendly to mothers who value time with their families, and I don’t know if that’s the case for all companies. When I come home in the evenings, I’m not bone-tired. I have energy to spend time with my children and my husband, and I’m happy to dedicate a portion of my life to a company who allows me to dedicate so much of my life to my world outside of work.

Work-Life Balance: Hit by a Bus Theory

Bridie Slater | Recruiter in London, UK

I spent much of my youth living by the ‘You could get hit by a bus tomorrow’ theory. As wonderful as this theory is, reality set in when my dad sat me down and said, “But what happens if you never get hit by a bus?”. It is not that I hadn’t considered surviving more than the next 24 hours, or that I had some ingrained fear of buses, my fear was the impossible task that is achieving work-life balance.

Meme from Mean Girls movie (Regina George being hit by bus)

Growing up, my parents had an average commute time of 10 minutes (and that was cycling), 90% of the time they were both home by 6pm, and not once did I see a laptop or work phone on a family holiday. Yet they both managed, and continue, to prosper in their careers. I know it was rare then, but today that sounds impossible to many of us. So how do we strike a true balance?

I was inspired to write this after hearing Mark Okerstrom answer the question, “What tips would you give for maintaining a work-life balance?”. His answer left me thinking; if the CEO of one of the world’s largest travel platforms can maintain a balance, then so can we.

I have stolen some of the below from Mark’s response (sorry Mark!) but I wanted to share some advice on how it can be achieved.

Go hard, or then go home 

As a wise colleague once said to me,

“When you are here, you are very here. When you go, you are very good at going.”.

Whether it was meant as one or not, I took this as a compliment. Give your all at work, then give your all at home. It is about the quality you give at work not the quantity of time you are there. Eliminate multitasking, the key is being present.

WORK LIFE spelled in scrabble pieces

Aim for an Existential Balance

Unfortunately, the reality of the modern world is that a daily work-life balance is hard to achieve and not always the best option. Instead of aiming to only work ‘9 to 5’, focus on the bigger picture of getting a balance throughout your existence. You will have months in certain roles where you work crazy hours. Don’t get caught up on these months. In other months, do not feel guilty to take time back. Give yourself a reason to take the time back.

Photo of women sitting on desk with win next to the captain '9 to 5'

Trust Yourself

If you are reading this I am assuming you consider yourself a ‘good worker’ and are committed (sometimes too much) to your work. Your employer trusts you to get the job done. So, now it is time to trust yourself to know when it is okay to switch off. You hear so many excuses about managers, stakeholders or colleagues being the cause of a poor work-life balance. Take responsibility, you are in control and only you can change it.

Meme of trust fall

Build Your Boundaries

In relationships, you have boundaries that, if crossed, would damage them. This should be no different for the relationship between your work and your life. Put blockers in place that, no matter what, stay in place. Have constants in your life such as gym classes, days you get a certain train or work from home. Not only does this mean your colleagues will work around them, but it is also a good measure to judge if your work-life balance is getting out of control. Work will always be there tomorrow, friends may not.

Meme saying 'I'm on vacation. We need to have boundaries'

Comprehend Consequences

I have heard on so many occasions the fear in people about losing their jobs. Yet, rarely do people mention the fear of losing elements of their life. The consequences of a poor work-life balance on your personal life can be so much greater. If you were to spend an extra 10 hours a week on seeing friends, doing activities, or sleeping in, do you think your manager would put up with it? Yet we expect our loved ones, our hobbies, and ourselves to be okay with working an extra 10 hours per week. Think about the consequences of putting work first for your family, friends and even your health. Is it worth the risk of damaging any of those?

Quote "For every action, there is a reaction" - Albert Einstein

There will always be the people who want to work their way through life, let them. None of this is revolutionary, and although attempting to have a work-life balance can be a full-time job, it is actually pretty simple. Ask yourself, “If not now, when?” will you put life first.

So hopefully, I will not get hit by a bus tomorrow, but on a serious note, the damage from a poor work-life balance can be nearly as irreversible. And as someone somewhere once said…

“You can always make more money, but you can never make more time”

Commemorate The Milestone of Happy’s Journey

Happy Chow | Recruiter in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I am in my fourth year with Expedia… it hasn’t been a long journey but it hasn’t been short either!

I started my role at Expedia Group as Lodging Partner Associate and then I made my move to the Talent Acquisition (TA) team after 2 years. I started as a Recruitment Coordinator for 6 months, was an Associate Recruiter for 10 months, and then I was promoted to a Recruiter, my current role.

I am now working with a group of very talented people – my team and my manager are super supportive and both play a very important role in my achievements. They continue to give me the motivation I need and a clear direction on where I should go and what I should achieve next. All of the compliments, acknowledgments, and awards allow me to know myself better – there is no limitation to my personal development here at Expedia Group. At the end of the day, I feel great that all of my hard work is being recognized and rewarded.

Why do I love working at Expedia Group? I like to see us doing meaningful things, bringing the world within reach, and achieving the ‘Best Places to Work’ awards. I have been enjoying every single day when I come to work – the culture is upbeat, our leadership is transparent and clear on direction, and we are a very well-organized, process-oriented company. We have awesome work-life balance too!

All of our Expedia brands and the working environment makes our people proud be part of it – and I’m proud to be a part of Expedia Group.
Throughout the years, we have come across lots of changes, challenges, and opportunities. We enjoy every moment when we are able to break through and see that our company is in the right direction, continuing to be at the forefront.

We are a company that puts people first, encourages transparency, and shows appreciation. We have a very diverse environment but we act as one team to achieve the same goal. Being a global company, there are a lot of opportunities to work with others team and regions.

Anyone that comes with the right energy and ambition, will find unlimited career and personal progression.

 

Why I’m Happy I Went Back to Work and My 3 Tips for Making the Transition Back

Laura Wilson | Recruiter, Egencia in Bellevue, WA

One of the hardest decisions I had ever faced in my life was one that I was not expecting. Two years ago, after having my beautiful daughter, the thought of leaving her every day to go to work seemed inconceivable. I knew in my heart, my head, my gut, literally every fiber of my being that I needed to be a stay-at-home mom.  There was no one in the world that could take care of my daughter the way I can and give her what she needs like I can and the thought of missing a single moment or milestone in her life crushed me.

Unfortunately, like many other women who wait until their 30’s or 40’s to have children, I was well into my career and provided a large portion of the financial well-being to my household. My husband and I had set up our lifestyle based on two incomes, and as much as I wanted to and was ready to leave my career, after looking at the financial impact it would have (and trust me I looked at every angle possible) there was just no feasible way we could financially survive without me going back to work.

The day that I dropped my daughter off for her first day of school I was a mess. I am not sure I have ever cried more in my life as I did the moment I walked out of her classroom and headed to my car to drive off to my first day back at work.

I am going to be honest, I cried every day for a couple months until one day I didn’t. It was hard, but it got better. The more I trusted her school and teachers and the more I got back into my work and was enjoying what I was doing, the more I got into a routine, the easier it got.

I understand that I am in a great situation and feel so lucky that I work for Egencia. Egencia is a company that has a culture focused on work/life balance and truly gives me the opportunity to have both a family and a career and not feel like I must sacrifice one for the other. I don’t have to feel guilty if I need to stay home with my sick baby or need a little flexibility so I can be present at school events. I feel that being surrounded in this culture has made my journey of being a working mom possible.

Overall, I feel that by going back to work I have truly found my balance. Life is busy for sure (more than I ever could have imagined) but I have my professional life where I get my intellectual stimulation and then my time at home with my family, although is not all day long, it is quality time. Because I have had the time away from my daughter during the day, when we are together we cherish that time and I feel like I can be fully engaged and present with her when we are together.

Also, I now see how well my daughter is thriving both socially and intellectually. I feel that my decision to go back to work was not only beneficial for myself but has also been beneficial for my daughter as well. While I still wholeheartedly believe that there was no one in the world that can take care of my daughter the way I can and give her what she needs like I can (because I am her Mom and no one can take that role from me), I also understand that there are things I cannot give her as well. She spends her days in an environment focused on specific activities tailored to her developmental needs at the moment and is working with professionals who have the education and training to provide her with the tools and lessons to push her development.

Going back to work after having a baby is not always the right situation for everyone. Some people know from day one that they want to go back to work and they cannot wait to be back in the office. Others know that working is just not going to be the right situation for their child and family. It is a very personal decision and what is right for one family is not going to be right for another. Although the decision was hard for me (and in the beginning felt wrong) I am happy that I went back to work. I feel that giving myself this balance allows me to be the best Mom and the best role model for my daughter and as parents that is what we are all striving for.

My Top 3 Tips for going back to work:

Be clear with your Manager and Team on what you need to transition back to work.

Everyone is going to feel different about this decision and need different things and a different level of support. Communicate how you are feeling, where you are struggling and what you think you are going to need to make a successful transition back to the workforce.

 Talk to other parents about their experience

Lean on your new parent community and learn what worked (and didn’t work) for them. This will help you not feel alone in your feelings and overall situation. It is especially helpful if you can find a network of parents in your workplace.

 It takes time.

Your life situation has changed, drastically! Give yourself time to figure out your new schedule and routine. Give yourself time to catch up on what you missed while you were off and re-learn what you may need to. Give yourself time to know if the decision you made to go back to work was right or not (because it is not right for everyone).