4 strategies for finding balance through parenthood

A conversation with two women leaders at Relativity

Photo of Relativity's Dani Huber, partner enablement manager, and Melissa Maloney, user experience researcher

At first glance, Dani Hubner, partner enablement manager, and Melissa Maloney, user experience researcher, are two seasoned professionals helping Relativity build innovative and comprehensive tools for making sense of unstructured data. Take a closer look, and you’ll also see two mothers balancing the competing demands of a full-time career and family.

“I have two elementary-aged kids, two years apart, and it feels like we’re in that stage where we’re playing calendar Tetris trying to balance all the things we want to do while also finding time to rest,” Melissa says. “My son is in a car phase,” Dani adds with a laugh. “So we spend a lot of our free time going to races together.”

For Dani, Melissa, and many other working parents, “professional” and “parent” are inseparable parts of a single, multifaceted identity. And with the right support, it’s possible for both to grow in unison.

We sat down with Dani and Melissa to learn how they navigate these two overlapping worlds, including their top tips for how you, too, can find balance as a working parent.

Parent & professional — a dual identity

Melissa was managing an international team across AMER, EMEA, and APAC time zones when she became a mother.

“I changed my working hours to start earlier and end earlier so I was able to have more time in the late afternoon and early evening with my baby, but also have flexibility in the evening to meet if needed. I also traveled a fair amount domestically, so it took a lot more coordination with my spouse, as he was also traveling, to align our schedules.”

Dani’s story was similarly challenging as her maternity leave ended right as the COVID pandemic started. “I was at work for maybe three weeks, and then we were all sent home. It ended up just being me with my baby and my dogs on the floor of my living room for months.”

Despite the initial challenges, these two identities proved to be mutually beneficial. Melissa describes how forming a family inspired her to map her career trajectory for the first time rather than progressing by default.

“I spent some time thinking about what was important to me at that stage in my career and life and what that meant for what I wanted to do,” she shares.

Dani, facing burnout, made the decision to leave her previous employer in search of a more balanced workplace. “It was probably the first time I prioritized my mental wellness and the well-being of my family.”

Championing balance at Relativity

Finding their stride in motherhood, both Melissa and Dani were drawn to Relativity’s commitment to supporting working parents.

“I was very transparent when I started interviewing with Relativity,” Dani recalls. “I emphasized how much I need flexibility. At the time, my son was around two years old and at the height of being a toddler. The germs and sickness were consuming my life. I felt like he was sent home more often than he was at daycare. So, I told my now manager, ‘Sometimes, I have to go pick him up. Sometimes, he stays home sick. I need flexibility.’”

Between her children being home during the pandemic and now balancing multiple schedules, Melissa also finds solace in Relativity’s flexible work culture. “I’m able to accommodate a midday dance performance or an opportunity to volunteer at the school for an event, knowing I can change my times around and am ultimately responsible for the outcomes I help drive.”

Prior to joining Relativity, Dani witnessed employers using unlimited time off policies to entice candidates without fully enabling team members to use them. “Our leaders here lead by example and they take time off. It makes me feel empowered to take the time I need so I can be with my kid more than the few hours we get each morning and night.”

Both Melissa and Dani also joined Relativity’s Women of the Workplace (RelWoW) community resource group as board members where they advocate for stronger community for belonging and advancement for women and allies. This involves moderating panels about different caretaker roles to increase visibility and awareness as well as collaborating with teams to help increase Relativity’s paid parental leave to 20 weeks.

Dani says, “At Relativity, you can be passionate about your job, and you can also go live your life and have that job fuel your life – not vice versa.”

4 actionable strategies for navigating parenthood

“This is a constant battle, I think, for all working parents,” Melissa laughs. While parenthood will never be smooth sailing, Melissa and Dani share their best advice on striking the right balance below.

Question what’s being asked of your time

Melissa encourages you to be intentional about where you spend your time, whether it’s a meeting, a company lunch, or even an after-hours social event.

“For example, if you get asked to be somewhere, understand why and what impact you can help provide, so you have that information if you need to make trade-offs.”

“Earlier in my career and before I became a mom,” adds Dani, “I was focused on ‘traditional’ ways to grow my career, saying ‘yes’ to everything that came my way. Since I’ve become a mom, I take a closer evaluation of opportunities that come my way, and I try to say ‘yes’ to those that make the most sense for my long-term growth.”

Have a shared family calendar

You know the professional calendar you rely on for work meetings and calls? Create one for your personal life, too.

“It helps us all keep track of who needs to be where and when. If there are competing items for the same time, it allows us to have a discussion and sort that out,” Melissa explains.

Be transparent with your children

“I think it’s important to expose to my kids what I do at work and use language around it being something I want to do,” says Melissa. “For example, I am choosing to attend a work event, rather than having to attend so they can see that I care about this and that’s why I’m spending time there. At the end of the day, I want my kids to see me as my complete self, so I think about that based on where I spend my time and energy.”

Give yourself grace

“I know this is easier said than done,” Melissa admits. “Everyone makes mistakes or the wrong choices and the main thing is that we learn from them, which also allows us to lead by example.”

Dani adds, “Our life is made up of a bunch of glass balls and plastic balls, and you can drop plastic balls, but you can't drop glass balls without repercussions. So, when you come to a situation where you just cannot juggle each one anymore, you need to figure out which plastic balls you can drop. Some will bounce back up and you can pick them up later. Some will roll away, and that's okay. But you have to take a moment to pause and say, ‘what's plastic?’”

For Dani, family will always be a glass ball — and for the plastic ones, she has the support of her community and coworkers to help her choose which ones to reshuffle.

“It's okay to mess up. It’s okay to deprioritize things. But, it's also empowering to choose what you want to prioritize.”

Grow your career in a workplace that supports working parents! Explore the career opportunities with Relativity here.
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