People often ask me how I handle being a mom of twins and work. I don’t usually have a straight up answer, I just do. And I won’t lie, it gets overwhelming at times but in the end I get through my days. I don’t believe in the term “work-life balance” because I really don’t feel that it exists. Personally, I define it as more of a work-life stretch. But how do I do it?
How I Deal With Being a Parent
After finding out I was pregnant with twins, I knew I was in for some rough times. At the advice of my dentist, who has a set of twins himself, I joined the Twins, Triplets and More Association of Calgary (TTMAC).
For those who are not Parents of Multiples (or POMs), having twins or triplets automatically makes you a circus act the moment you step out of your home. A double stroller with two tiny babies attracts A LOT of attention. Additionally, people want to touch your infant twins all the time. POMs constantly receive unsolicited advice on how to raise two or more kids at the same time. If you’re not receiving advice, you feel the constant stares. Furthermore, we are also subject to hearing endless stories of someone’s wife’s neice’s neighbour’s cat who also had twins.
As insane as parenting twins is, I found my support system. I found a team of people who I could learn from, laugh with, discuss methods of not double feeding one child and forgetting to feed the other (yes, this could happen when you’re sleep deprived). My first piece of advice I heard from a twin mom was to go outside every day. Even when it’s minus 30 outside, and it takes you two hours to get ready and you’re only out for five minutes. Crazy, right? Well, I followed her advice. Every day while I was on mat leave, we went out. We, the circus act mom and her boy/girl twins, went to the mall, shopped at Costco (figured out how to simultaneously push a stroller AND a cart), hit the libraries, and on nicer days, went to the zoo. I even lugged my two out to the gym a few times each week.
Best. Advice. Ever.
Getting outside wasn’t the point. Being outside made me human again, made me a better individual and gave me purpose each day. Small bit of advice from another POM made me feel more confident as a parent growing into this new role. I really needed to hear that from someone I could trust and someone that understood my struggle. POMs have this automatic bond. This was a team of people who I valued and still value to this day. They understand my feelings and support me in any way they can. It’s inspiring and motivating to hear life hacks from a group of people who can relate (and have gone through the same). They helped me become a better version of myself and gave me the confidence to be a good parent, partner and friend.
A Lesson From My Son
My twins are now in preschool. At the beginning of the school year, students’ speech and fine motor skills are assessed. Turns out my son needed some attention in that department and has a whole team behind him: An occupational therapist, a speech therapist, an educational facilitator, a child development facilitator, the preschool teacher, preschool teacher aide, my husband and myself. ALL of us support this one child in different ways.
Well, through all our work the past five months, he went from not wanting to pick up a pencil to a boy who constantly enjoys drawing spiders and robots. He confidently answers questions in class. Lego is no longer “yay-go,” and he likes lions with lemons (or, he can now say that phrase, I don’t know if he actually prefers his lions with lemons). Indeed, he is a better version of himself. This team all worked together to meet his goals. We are his people. We support him and in the end, he’s improved drastically compared to just a few months ago. He’s really proud of all his “teachers” – so much so that he has no problem throwing it in his sister’s face that he has more teachers than she does. Who wouldn’t be proud of a team who motivates you and supports your personal growth?
Who Are My People?
Seeing how proud he is of his team of “teachers” makes me question, who are my people? I have a handful of Cristina Yangs to my Meredith Greys (for those of you who watch Grey’s Anatomy) in my personal life, who I contact the odd time, as good friends do. But it’s equally as important to have people you know you can trust and have their support each day. I’m grateful to work with a team who I deeply respect, whose input I value (and vice versa), and are supportive. We are supportive of each other’s goals. Once you make your goals known (sharing your goals is key), the reward is seeing your co-workers progress. Goals are seen, heard AND supported by your colleagues. One of my goals for 2019 was to take on some work outside my usual social media, document control and procurement. It’s great to see how well management & other employees have been supportive of this new role. Giving me the opportunity to grow makes me feel appreciated and motivates me to work hard. Everyone I work with today has been nothing short of pushing the best Elaine forward.
Like my twins group, I found my tribe. There’s something to say about the camaraderie at Scovan. We challenge each other in friendly ways that goes beyond our ping pong table. Our skills complement each other and we truly are a dynamic bunch. I’ve been with the team for six years, and in that time, I can confidently say that we have improved, both professionally and personally. As we’ve grown individually, we’ve also worked together to improve processes to provide better value for our clients. Our technology alone has advanced tremendously, but we couldn’t have done this without the strong team we have. We are a company that has grown better together. And as Hubspot says, “Growing better doesn’t make a business less competitive. It sets you apart from the competition.”
This is what allows me to wake up each morning and not dread having to come into work. When you spend half your waking hours around people you genuinely respect, it makes difficult tasks less difficult and everyone is on the same page to find the right solution. Working with a harmonious team is motivating. Empowering employees is a must for growing businesses. This is one small piece of the puzzle behind the success of Scovan. We laugh together, we sometimes argue like siblings, but at the end of the day we share the same values and goals. We take the best aspects of each individual and make one fantastic team. These are my people.
In a world where a busy career coexists with parenting children, and for many, taking care of your own parents, you need to find your support system. Find your tribe to survive. Surround yourself with people who you value, who motivate you and encourage growth. In truth, your work-life stretch will still be there, but at least you have people to lean on while you balance on your tightrope.