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Women in Leadership: Working Moms

The Influence Agency
Written By
The Influence Agency
Published On
May 04, 2021
A mom working on her computer as her daughter hugs her from behind

Written by Jess Copeland and Stephanie Palasti-Walker

In celebration of Mother’s Day, TIA’s two working mamas: Stephanie Palasti-Walker, TIA Partner and Director of Client Success and Jess Copeland, Brand Director, sit down and talk about all things motherhood and careers. From navigating a Pandemic mat-leave, returning to work (from home), and that ever-elusive work-life balance, nothing is off the table. Let’s dive right in!

Let’s talk about expectations vs reality. How would you describe your return to work experience was actually like, vs how you imagined it would be?

Stephanie: I had no idea what to expect! I went on mat leave a few weeks after the pandemic started, so I didn’t have the full experience of working from home until I went back to work at the beginning of this year. I remember being a bit nervous about the idea of not being in the office; how is training new staff going to work? How do we all feel connected in a virtual world? How do team meetings stay organized? I quickly realized that as nice as it is in an office altogether, the virtual office still works well!

Jess: Even though this was my second maternity leave, I really had no idea what to expect. Not only was I starting a new job in a new industry, because of COVID I would be meeting everyone via computer screen! That said, I was incredibly excited to take on this new challenge, so I kept my focus on that sense of excitement and had the mentality to take everything one day at a time.

Two babies sitting on a chair outdoors

Pandemic Babies have become a trending topic as parents navigate raising their children in these unprecedented times. How have you (and your partner) navigated this completely unexpected reality?

S: To be honest, we don’t know any different. This is our first child, so everything we’ve gone through to date has been unexpected! Sure, it would have been nice to go to mommy-and-me yoga or go on a family vacation, but we’re making the best of our time given the circumstances.

J: It’s so crazy how different my two experiences have been! Not only does parenting get 100x more challenging when you go from 1 child to 2, but really, the parenting handbook gets thrown out the window when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic. I would say for me and my partner it’s been to focus on the positives- like the fact that he has been working from home this entire time and so he got to be around his infant son way more often than with our first. We’ve also learned to be kinder to ourselves and each other, to recognize what we’re navigating is a challenge and we don’t have the usual resources available (school, extracurricular activities, grandparents, etc…) that we would have had access to during normal times.

How did you prepare yourself for returning to work?

S: My TIA business partners did such a great job keeping me up-to-date on everything that was going on at the agency while I was on mat leave. I wasn’t expecting our team to grow as much as it did during the pandemic, so there were many new faces to get to know! I set up speed dates with all of our new staff to get to know them before my return and catch-ups with all of our staff that were there pre-mat leave. The return back to work was quite smooth and I remember how great it felt being back to doing what I love! 

J: I was coming into a new job, so I didn’t really know what to expect! I focused on enjoying the final weeks with my youngest son who would be going to daycare and reading up on the TIA site to learn as much as I could about this amazing agency before I officially came on board 😊

Steph Palasti and her daughter Liv posing for a photo together

What was a major curveball for you, something that you didn’t anticipate when you returned to work?

S: Daycare closures due to Covid, ugh. Our daughter has been home with us for 3 weeks since the beginning of the year with either the daycare being closed or her having the common cold. Sure, it’s nice spending time with her since she’s a cutie, but impossible for my husband and I to get work done when she’s running around! She’s definitely joined a few client and staff meetings, with baby shark playing in the background on YouTube haha!

J: Schools being shut down. My oldest is in JK so my partner and I were really banking on him to be in school full time so we could both focus on work while our youngest is in daycare. Unfortunately, with schools being closed and virtual learning in place (which is impossible for a 4 year old, btw) it’s been a challenge, but we are working through it!

A lot of dialogue around working moms is this idea of attaining a balance between home life and work life. What does this concept of balance look like for you?

S: I thought this would have been more of a struggle, but with our little one being at daycare from 8-5 every day, it’s been a healthy balance between home and work life. I’m saving time on commuting right now, which is great, so being home to pick her up from daycare, have a family dinner and get her ready for bed is something that I know can’t happen every day when we all get back to the office life. So I’m definitely cherishing those moments with my family!  

J: For me, it’s always been about having boundaries in place, accepting what I can and cannot control, and recognizing that my family has to come first. Before COVID, I learned to be efficient with my time, set realistic timelines for tasks to be completed and manage expectations. Naturally, in our current setting, I’ve had to pivot a bit but I’ve still maintained these principles to help keep me and my family sane! I’m also incredibly grateful that both my partner and I have been able to work from home and that TIA is an incredibly understanding work family and has been super supportive to me as I navigate this new role.

Jess posing for a photo with her two sons, Ethan and Jameson

TIA: If you had a single piece of advice for a mom who is getting ready to re-enter the workforce after parental leave, what would it be?

S: Disconnect from work when you’re with your little one! This has been such a struggle for me and because my daughter sees me on my phone, whether I’m reading a work email or talking to a client, she is obsessed with it and already wants one of her own – what have I done!? Now, I’m making a conscious effort to disconnect and be present when I’m with her in the mornings and evenings, which makes our time together more special ❤️

J: Be kind to yourself!! Parenthood is one of the toughest yet most rewarding jobs you can ever take on. I am incredibly lucky to have two happy and healthy boys that call me “Mom”. They drive me crazy at times but I have to remind myself that I am doing the best I can and that’s all we can ever do. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Thank you Steph and Jess for sharing your thoughts and advice! To all the fellow mamas out there, The Influence Agency would like to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day and thank you for all that you do. 

Let us know in the comments below if there are any special moms in your life you’d like to thank!

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