Ever wonder what it’s like to be mom of two and have a full time, fulfilling career while still finding time for yourself? Well ZenCity Developer Nathalie does. In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked Nathalie to get real with us and tell us what it’s like to be a software engineer and mom of two in the technology industry, in the era of #metoo. This is the advice she has for other mamas out there looking to find career satisfaction and work-life balance.
Can you really be a working mom in the tech industry? I get asked this question all the time and I’m happy to say that, yes, I genuinely believe you can be. I think it requires work on our end, as moms, but I think it’s possible. I like to believe that for me, I really have it all. I wake up every morning and I’m excited to go work. But I admit, it’s not easy and it took me time to find the right balance. Here’s my advice for other women trying to juggle work, family and life, and make it seem easy:
1. Define what’ll make you feel like you’re at home ‘enough,’ and then tell your job about it
I had a period of time where I was only at home with my son on average one hour a day before he would go to sleep for the night. I realized fast that this was not enough for me and felt that I was missing important steps in his life. When I had my second, I knew I wanted to be with both of them much more and at least some days of the week, be able to pick them up and spend time with my family until bedtime. So I looked for a job that would let me have the career that I wanted, but that also would give me the flexibility to define my working hours. In other words, a job where I could be upfront about my priorities – which includes a full time career and being fully present for my family. When I was interviewing at ZenCity, I was open about what I wanted. My experience has always been, even before I was a mom, that communicating work boundaries upfront is essential and respected.
2. Make sure you like what you’re doing
When you have those periods when you haven’t slept for weeks because your kids are keeping you up all night, and the house looks like a toy store exploded, and you’ve been exposed to more green snot than one human can bare, you have to make sure that your job is actually something you enjoy doing every day because otherwise the motivation to actually get up and go to work will be missing. When you love the company you work for and enjoy your day-to-day tasks, it’s much easier to get to work in the morning, to get into routine, and for time to fly by, even during the tougher parenting periods.
At ZenCity, I feel very lucky. Not only do I get to code, which I love, but I get to actually create features for a product that helps cities improve the way they are managed by taking into account citizen feedback. Making a difference in people’s lives just gives another dimension to my day to day job. I work with my team to improve our product and come up with new features or data sources that will better the user experience, so I’m constantly being challenged and growing – all in the context of doing some good. For me, these are essential elements to an enjoyable work day.
3. Make sure you work at a company that understands your needs
Let’s be honest, not all companies are as understanding and supportive of parenting as ZenCity. The fact that I am able to work on the hours that work for me, or work remotely when my kids aren’t at school is a real help.
This is the true secret to the balance. If the company you work for really believes in the importance of having a ‘zen’ home life than chances are, all cards will be in your hands. How many people can say that if they haven’t left the office on time, their CTO will come remind them that it’s time to go?
4. Make room for some ‘off-time’
I try to put my kids to bed early so I still get to have time for myself and with my husband. Of course, it’s not always easy and there are days when I feel I am not at my best at home or at work. But then there are also the days where I’m lucky to get my kids ready for school, drop them off, have a fulfilling day at work and then pick my kids up and spend quality time as a family. On those days I really feel lucky.
So for Mother’s Day, I hope all mothers get to be as lucky as me and find their match in a company that will allow them to create their own balance and also feel like (most days) they are handling both a full time job and enjoying time with their kids. I’m so proud that my two boys will grow up watching their mom break gender stereotypes in her work and loving every moment of it (or at least, most moments…)