October 28, 2016
(photographed here, November 2015, presenting at a conference with my 5-month old at the hip. This, after he had a major blow-out poop that I changed on the floor in a corner in the front of the room, hopefully out of view of the session attendees)
Many of us have the privilege of making our own choices as it relates to the work-life balance as a mother. For our family, work has been a financial necessity but also a personal decision as I forged ahead with my career. I first became a mother 16 years ago; I continued to build a career at the same time we decided to build our family.
I joined my current organization 2.5 years ago. Within my first six months on the job, I had to have that awkward conversation with my boss to let him know that I'd need to take family leave six months later. (It wasn't a planned thing.) Once I returned back to work on a full-time basis five months later, I resumed a robust schedule of travel. Working for a national organization headquartered in DC, east coast travel was frequent as well as travel to events and conferences.
I was rather flabbergasted to unearth an underutilized benefit: back-up care. The Bright Horizons Back UP Care Advantage program was offered to us by our employer: 20 days per year for our dependents (whether our children, an aged parent, or any other dependent). This means I could use it when:
- There was a random "no school" day when I had to work (i.e., parent-teacher conference days or what not)
- My child was sick and could not go to school, and I still had to work
- My regular nanny was sick and could not care for my infant, and I still had to work
- I had to travel overnight and could not leave the baby behind since he was still nursing through the night
I could think of many other uses for this program:
- A former colleague would have to miss out-of-town meetings when he could not line up care for his spouse, who suffered from very advanced multiple sclerosis and who required round-the-clock assistance
- A friend who lived with and cared for her aging mother, who often could not attend professional development events due to her care responsibilities
- And more
This is something too good to not share. I haven't even shared the best part. This program is subsidized by my employer: I pay either $20 per day for using a drop-in Bright Horizons center or $5 per hour for using a nationwide nanny placement service. This year, I've used this service in 6 different cities nationwide, toting my boy along knowing he'd be well cared-for during the day while I attended events and meetings.
What do you think: useful?