By Paula Cabrera
Fellow working Mamas, work is not our enemy.
It’s not all about exhausting ourselves to meet deadlines or putting up with annoying officemates and demanding bosses. Yes, work can be stressful. That’s reality and that’s the truth. But we should remind ourselves that our work helps us become better individuals, and better parents. It helps us to develop our skills and abilities and to improve on our weaknesses.
Thus, we don’t have to battle through weekdays as though we’re little Davids being pitted against enormous Goliaths. Work is not our enemy. In fact, I would like to take this a step further by proposing that our workplace is actually our family too.
We can (and should!) relate to our officemates the way relate to our families. There’s no point in being a different person while at work. We are working moms. Not just working woman. Not just moms. We are working moms, there shouldn’t be any reason for us to compartmentalize ourselves as if the determined, goal-oriented working identity is the alter ego of the nurturing, caring, selfless “motherly” identity.
So instead of trying to live double lives, we can use our strengths, lifehacks, and passions we have discovered in being moms to instill family values in our workplace.
Personally, I believe that my family is a team. We need to work together to reach our dreams and goals, whether these are as simple as building a tower with our toddler’s blocks or as big as building our house. In my team, no one should be made to feel little (nope, not even my tiny almost two year old toddler) and each one can and should contribute to whatever task at hand, may it be cleaning a room, preparing dinner, grocery shopping, etc. Most importantly, despite disagreements and challenges, my husband and I have made a pact to always choose to love our family, which is something we also try to teach our little girl as young as she is.
And I believe that the values we uphold in our families should likewise prevail in our workplace. So how can we show our officemates some “love”? Here’s a few suggestions.
1. Show them respect. – Our officemates are people. They are not robots who jump from one task to the next. Just like our family members, they deserve to be treated with respect. Just as we encourage an environment of respect in our home, we should nurture a culture of respect in the workplace as well.
2. Give your full attention. – It’s so easy to be distracted when we’re with our little ones or even out on a date with our loving husbands. Our brains just never stop working. We have things to do, groceries to buy, activities we want to try with our kids, plus work to think about! But we do know that our family deserves our full attention. Quality over quantity, right? Our work deserves this too. We have to be there 100%. Our officemates deserve our full attention as they speak with us, coordinate with us, and execute goals with us. We shouldn’t be at work half-heartedly or with our attention divided.
3. Work as a team. – It’s pretty basic. Family goals aren’t meant to be achieved by only one parent or by the child. They require unified efforts from each and every family member. Same goes with work goals. We’re not meant to achieve daily/weekly/monthly/yearly targets alone. We’re meant to work together with our officemates, with each one pitching in ideas, time, and efforts to accomplish tasks.
4. Cleanliness is next to godliness. – The comfort of our homes is precious and so, as moms, we all set standards for cleanliness. I’m not saying each home must be sparkling clean. With children around, a mess is inevitable, but even in that mess, there must be a sense of organization- which is why we teach our kids to pack away and clean up. Our work demands that we also help in keeping the physical space clean and tidy. True, standards for this may vary, but there’s no denying that being neat helps us think clearly and work more efficiently.
5. Live generously. – We love our families. There is nothing truer than that. Hence, we give, we sacrifice, and we provide. We also encourage our family members to be generous. The same should apply at our workplace. There is no point in being selfish with ideas, plans, and resources. That won’t encourage healthy competition; instead, it will just push for isolation and dividedness.
6. Exercise patience. – In our families, we support one another. More or less, we know the strengths and weaknesses of one another. We encourage patience especially when one makes a mistake or takes time to learn a task or develop a skill. I mean, remember all those times when our kids just want to keep playing peek-a-boo or demand the same story to be read a hundred times??? Patience is a virtue, and we’re all still learning this. Just like at home, our workplace is a place of learning. Everyone is in the process of learning, enhancing, developing, and enriching skills, techniques, and capabilities. Consequently, we should also encourage patience at the workplace. There’s absolutely no point in shutting out an officemate who can’t seem to figure out the new program or who hasn’t perfected the report. This attitude or choice will only slow all of us down.
7. Forgive. – Just because our kids have broken vases or our husbands forgot to pass by the grocery to get garlic, we don’t oust them from our families. When things can be fixed or when the mistake won’t bother us a few hours/days/weeks/months/even years from now, we forgive, learn, and move on. In fact, we encourage to forgive countless times, right? Just the same, when an officemate makes an error in a report or bad mouths us about a petty matter, we have to forgive, learn, and move on. Otherwise, we’ll be stuck at a job with no one to help us. People make mistakes – that’s inevitable. Thus, we need to encourage forgiveness at the workplace. Of course, this does not secure employment. Certain mistakes can be ground for dismissal from employment, and as such, cannot and should not be shrugged off.
8. Have faith. – We believe in each other. As moms, we have faith in our kids. As wives, we have faith in our husbands. As persons, we have faith in ourselves. We should. Otherwise, it would be very difficult to encourage all other values to exist in our families. The same goes for the workplace. We need to believe in our officemates, in their abilities, in their determination and dedication. Otherwise, it would be very difficult, if not altogether impossible, to encourage hard work, teamwork, and goal-orientedness. We need to have faith in those we work with. This gives fuel in building good relationships and in building trust.
9. Be professional. Of course, as we treat one another at work with the sense of familiarity and comfort we have with family, we have to remember to still be professional. Applying the values enumerated above should help us work together towards work goals, not cross lines and joke around as if we were in a circus. Treating our officemates and work like our family does not allow us to violate company rules and regulations or intrude into their personal lives. It also does not allow us to use work hours as time to just hang out with our friendly officemates. We must still take note of one another’s personal space, company guidelines, and basic work ethics.
Yes, at the end of the day, we would want to go home to our families, but letting family values thrive at the workplace would allow us to build a different kind of home at work too.
Again, work is not our enemy, fellow working mamas. Work is part of who we are and the values we hold important should allow us to be ourselves, excel at work, and encourage others to do the same.
Happy work week and happy weekend!
Paula Cabrera is a working mom and a devoted wife. She and her husband are both lawyers who are continuously learning to embrace the joys and pains of both work and parenting. Reading and writing have always been some of her hobbies, and so, despite being busy, she finds time to do both even for just a few minutes everyday. She hopes to be able to be able to reach out to other parents through her short pieces and remind them that they are not alone in the crazy yet fulfilling world of parenting.