On Deadlines and Diapers : Lessons from the First Year of Parenthood

Hi there, reader. I write you from a place of relief, satisfaction, gratitude, and humility… a place otherwise known as the first year of parenthood.

So brush aside the Legos and pull up a chair. I want to share with you some of what the last 12 months have taught me.

The Fairytale:

Before my son was born a year ago, my vision of early parenthood was a vague jumble of baby-snuggling and homemade purees and leisurely stroller walks with my husband. In my mind, the whole vision had soft lighting. Fuzzy edges. And definitely no crying.

Early parenthood was going to be a series of delights. A little bleary-eyed, maybe. And with a bit more laundry. But delight, all of it.

The Reality:

The first year of parenting did have its delights, to be sure. But my fairytale vision of parenthood got real, real fast: I was juggling schedules, wrestling with new identity, and navigating trial and error and uncertainty.

There was lots of coffee. Lots of diapers. And lots of relief, too, when I finally found my footing and could reflect a bit on the lessons of the past year.

And you know what I found? Much of what I came to value in my first year of parenthood was already fundamental to the culture of Reify. And I don’t just mean Reify’s coffee obsession, though that sure didn’t hurt.

Lessons from the First Year:

IT TAKES A VILLAGE.

Family, neighbors, friends, colleagues, childcare providers… I’ve learned that without them, I’m a hot mess of a parent. It doesn’t matter how many books and blogs and “What to Expect” tomes I’ve poured over. What has shaped this past year most positively were actual people: their wisdom, their time and (maybe most of all), their perspective.

Here at Reify, calling one another’s talents is just how we do business. Team members weigh in on things as small as email wording and as big as final deliverables. Our “village” mentality makes for a quality product and a rewarding work environment. And when my son spiked a fever that left me bleary-eyed and pajama-rumpled and brain-fried the morning of an important meeting, I had a colleague willing to stand in for me at at the last minute. It takes a village to raise a kid, but also to raise the bar on a culture of support in the workplace.

FIT BEATS FLARE, EVERY TIME.

For example, the swanky, singing, light-up, educational swing that was sure to be our son’s favorite? Not so much. When we found out he’d rather observe people than flashy toys, we ditched the techy swing in favor of the no-frills high chair– a much better fit for our extroverted baby.

At Reify, we relish the latest technology.  It can help make information accessible, engaging, and easily navigable… but only if it fits the audience’s needs. We take time to get to know our clients before suggesting technology that might help them meet their goals.

FLEXIBILITY: IT’S NOT JUST FOR YOGA

One look at my color-coded calendar gives me away: I value order. But this past year has taught me to hold onto that order loosely. With a kid in the equation, flexibility gets things done.

Reify exemplifies this flexibility by being deadline oriented instead of “seat-time” oriented. Team members can work when and where we work best. I can switch research days, if our childcare provider has a scheduling change. Or answer that important email after bedtime, when I can focus. It’s a work culture that makes for a healthy team and deliverables we’re proud of.

The Takeaway:

I’m grateful to work for a company with a vibrant and thoughtful culture. Whether you’re balancing a first year with a newborn, taking care of an older parent, trying to improve your own health, or seeking that elusive “work / life balance” that’s constantly in the news, it’s important to find a team that has your back and supports your goals–and not just goals that fit your company’s bottom line.

Research shows that support from your team and a balance between work and home aren’t just good for employees–they’re also good for business. Teams that focus on deadlines rather than 8-5 facetime often nurture high levels of productivity and creativity. Companies with flexible leave structures have higher employee retention rates. And as this Entrepreneur article demonstrates, employees who value their health have better job performance ratings.

But how do you get there, as an employee? As a company? Here are a few resources for getting started:

6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Work Life Balance

9 Work-Life Balance Tips for Busy Parents (in pictures!)

3 Crucial Ways to Set Boundaries at Work

And of course, if you’re ever interested in seeing what Reify can do for your business, or in joining our team, we’d love to tell you more about how our culture could work for you.

The Klingenberg Family

Want to talk more about how we can work together?

Even if you don’t have a project right now, we’d love to connect over coffee and ideas.

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