How I’m Learning to Banish The Mommy Guilt Too Many Working Moms Struggle With was originally published on Fairygodboss.
Marlowe Merritt’s morning routine sounds like that of many working moms. Her daughter, Aiyla, wakes her up early, she and her husband make coffee as they juggle bottle time, and then they drop her daughter off at daycare before heading into work. But once Merritt is at GameChanger, where she is a senior product designer, her working mom experience is anything but typical — it’s extraordinary.
Merritt says the company offers the flexibility, supportive culture and mission-based experience that’s missing at many technology companies. And those things combined have helped her avoid mommy guilt, grow her career and start to figure out the whole parenting thing.
Beyond working at GameChanger, we asked Merritt about how she sets boundaries between work life and mom life, how she and her husband split responsibilities, and how she keeps her “me time” on a busy schedule. She also shared her best tip for new moms who are learning to juggle it all.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I have been at GameChanger almost four months. Before starting here, I was at 1stdibs.com.
What’s your pre-work morning routine like?
Typically, Aiyla, my daughter. She wakes us up around 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., all smiley. And then I’m like, “OK, it’s fine to be up,” even if I’m still tired.
We get to play a little. My husband and I trade off on who watches her while we get ready and make coffee. We have a good routine to make sure we get to do some things for ourselves, like showering or going to the gym. Then, one of us drops her off at daycare. If I do drop off, then I drop her off on my walk to the PATH train, always hoping I didn’t forget anything — for me or her! Packing the night before gives me less to think about in the morning.
Why do you think your company is a particularly great place to be a working mom?
I would definitely say the flexibility. I really like how the culture is based on doing your work on your own time. There’s a real trust factor. It’s really a choice whether or not you want to come in early or stay late, as long as you’re making sure your work gets done.
Also, everyone is very supportive. There’s a whole group of parents with young kids, and that makes me feel comfortable. We even have a slack channel: #gckidsandbabies!
How do you feel like your job has helped complement your function as a parent?
I like having my me-time at work. I enjoy feeling productive and producing something that matters, then coming back home. Ultimately, working while parenting has helped me prioritize my time and learn balance.
How has your role as a mom made you a better employee?
It’s helped me understand priorities and meet deadlines. I know I’m here to work and that I have an obligation at home to get back to.
What’s your go-to stress-relief activity or routine?
Exercising. I use ClassPass, because it’s unpredictable when I can work out and with the ClassPass program, I can change up my workouts. I like spin classes and boxing. Boxing is a great stress reliever. I should probably do more yoga, but I like to sweat. I also love just walking around the city.
What kinds of boundaries to you follow (if any) to separate work and family time?
I’m still new here, so there’s a lot of things I’m learning (and excited to learn about). As a result, I always want to keep working. When I go home, I make sure that’s family time. I try to get everything done while I’m in the office and not to bring work home. I make lots of checklists.
What are you especially good at as a mom? What about at work?
As a mom, I think I’m just going with the flow right now. I’ve learned that there will always be mom guilt, but I’m appreciating being a working mom and knowing Aiyla is in good hands during the day. I’m always excited to see her when I get home and we have our weekends together. I cherish the moments we have. I think I’m naturally nurturing, though I honestly questioned if I would be. I was nervous around babies before and I would always think I didn’t know how to hold them, but now it’s very natural.
At work, I’m good at collaborating. I appreciate hearing people’s feedback and having constructive conversations. And as far as design goes, I like seeing all different perspectives. Talking to users and seeing results from users is exciting to me.
What’s your No. 1 tip for new moms who are navigating the delicate balance of working and mothering?
Set your boundaries and set realistic boundaries. Try not to feel guilty — as hard as it can be, especially starting out. You’re more than just a mom.
What’s your favorite part of your workday (or your favorite aspect of your job)?
I really love working here because of the community aspect of it all. I like what we stand for as a company. It’s exciting to hear from users and get positive reinforcement of why we’re doing this. It makes me feel validated.
What do you love most about your company?
The people are great. Everyone is down to earth and smart and there’s no real ego here. The culture is empowering and autonomous. There’s camaraderie and people are passionate about what they’re working on. We’re all in it together and you can feel that. And, of course, I love the market we’re working for. I’m happy to be working to better youth sports, the kids and communities.
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