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Working Parent – What I’m Learning As a First Time Mom

Each time we go to the pediatrician’s office, my son’s doctor tells me to relax and enjoy my son more. And each appointment, I’m surprised. “What do you mean,” I ask? “Don’t all parents come to each appointment with a typed list of questions?” Apparently not.

Work life balance

It’s unfathomable that last year at this time, I was getting ready to have a baby. Grayson’s first year has flown by, but not without a lot of lessons. The learning has been fast and at times painful.

Working parent lesson one:  Stop trying to be perfect. I’m annoyed with myself, in all aspects of my life, for not being perfect. Regret is amplified with my son. Tonight he fell and shed blood for the first time in his young life. And I was standing right there. He hurt himself on my watch. As I replay the incident in my mind, all I can think is, “How did I let that happen and how do I prevent it happening again?” My family reassured me that every kid hurts himself and it will happen again and again. Intellectually I know this, and yet, I’m in denial about it, thinking if I’m vigilant enough, I can protect Grayson, ensuring that everything is always…perfect.

Working parent lesson two:  Go to bed earlier. When Grayson was born I was given the sage advice, “Sleep when he sleeps.”  I didn’t. And I’m writing this when I should be asleep. I’m more patient and present when I sleep.  I’m a better parent, manager, leader, and business owner when I sleep.

Close out the email. Get off the internet. Go to sleep.

Working parent lesson three:  One of my friends told me that most babies’ emergency room visits are for things the parents didn’t know the child could do. Yesterday Grayson crawled out of the tub unassisted. I didn’t know he could do that. He’d never done it before.  Each time he does something he’s never done before, I’m caught off guard. He’s fast, agile, curious and smart. I can’t underestimate him. And this isn’t too different from work.

Don’t underestimate the people you work with. They’ll do great things, if you let them. Set big goals. Be clear in your expectations. Coach, support, and get out of the way.

Several people have asked me about my greatest surprise in parenting. I have to say, it’s the love. The huge, limitless, crazy love. Perhaps I need to extend it to myself, and stress less and enjoy more.

Happy first birthday to Grayson. My greatest love and teacher.

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Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at

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9 Responses to “Working Parent – What I’m Learning As a First Time Mom”

  1. Karrie I says:

    Love this post, and your blog in general. 🙂 I heard you speak at a PMI conference in Denver, and have used your book to set some standards on feedback when I became a first time manager of 18. 🙂 My “babies” are 34 and 31…believe anyone who tells you it goes by fast. 🙂

  2. Shelly W. says:

    YES! Also first time mom to a 10 month old and you hit the nail on the head. Saw you at WFF in Orlando and still use your questions all the time. Love the blog. Super helpful refreshers and new info. HBD to Grayson!

  3. Beth says:

    All working parents should read and heed this sage advice. My “babies” turn 11 in December and I so appreciate the part about not underestimating what they can do! Each stage just keeps getting better and better…and Karrie is correct, it goes by all too fast.

    My absolute favorite words of your post are “The huge, limitless, crazy love.” That sums up parental love to a tee!!

  4. Truthful says:

    Thank you so much for this post. My 1 year old (1 on the 9th of September) also got hurt this weekend. If you can’t tell, I’m so upset still that he got hurt I won’t relay all the details to you , but I was literally standing RIGHT THERE.
    As a working mom, I have really learned that I can’t do everything and delegation is key. Your post a few weeks ago (or a few months because that’s how time flies now) about being okay with delegation when it isn’t done exactly the way you would have done it. I have found that if I want to make a 3 o’ clock meeting at work I have to be okay that my husband takes the baby to the doctor appointment. The first time he took the baby to an appointment I sent him with a full page list of instructions.
    Your blog actually gave me the confidence boost I needed to confess to a client that I had a sick child (gasp, you have children!) and needed to reschedule a meeting. Surprisingly, the client said he understood he had children. Who knew? The working world does understand children.

    Good luck on the parenting adventure while working!

  5. Tammy G says:

    Human beings, (even miniature ones) are amazingly resilient. They will teach us much more than we will ever teach them. Enjoy each new lesson.

  6. Dorene says:

    Love his and all your wisdom! Especially as I prepare to be a 1st time working parent of twins this winter!

  7. Michele C says:

    Happy Birthday, Grayson! Great advice from the doctor, just savor every moment. Just sent my firstborn to college. It goes by in a blur.

  8. Awesome Article, and Awesome pic. You always seem to have really good pictures for each post. I have a question about that with regards to Flickr and copyrights: Is it okay to post someones pic then link back to their profile? It seems like this would be beneficial to the photographer but also they make be angry that you used their photo… I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

    • Shari Harley says:

      Hi Andrew, Thanks for your comment and feedback. We always pay a few to use images that we don’t create. Gotta’ protect others’ copyright. If we can’t identify where an image comes from and don’t have permission to use it, we don’t use it. I hope this helps!

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