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I can still remember the embarrassment I felt when a young employee walked past my cubicle early one morning and paused to say, “Am I spying?”the snack that smiles back‘in your pocket? Wow, you really are a mother. “In my usual rush to walk out the door and get my son to daycare before going to the office, his snack must have ended up in the wrong bag – a sandwich bag full of goldfish crackers actually ran out of my wallet .

I laughed, shoved those crackers deeper into my pocket, and quickly switched the subject to something work-related to divert attention from the fact that I actually had a goldfish-loving toddler at home.

Those early years of parenting were tough. My husband and I lived 2,000 miles away from the family and our son was very ill. There was endless ear infections, allergies, specialists, minor surgeries, and a really terrible chest x-ray – not to mention all of the usual germs that kids pass around in daycare. We thought forever about who had the more important meeting and who could sneak out early to pick them up when the daycare called again to say he had a fever. But there is nothing professional about a sick baby, as far as I could, I separated my role as a mother from my role as (then) PR manager.

This is what parents – especially mothers – do all too often: We hide evidence of how our children affect our daily lives out of the (valid) fear that this will somehow undermine our credibility or indicate that we are or are less productive dedicate ourselves to our commitment careers. Although my husband had no qualms about openly sharing our struggles and his need for flexibility at work with his manager (who also happened to be a single mother), I didn’t feel so comfortable sharing them with my male boss, who ‘ I never had children.

But if we continue to hide the way our parents and our professional lives collide, we are continuing the stereotype of the perplexed, distracted mother and ignoring any ways parents can actually improve us at our work. These children, who can cause unpredictable inconveniences, also push us to become better and better organizers, multitaskers, project managers and communicators.

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Therefore as Alexia Dellner writes for PureWowdo we have to “according to parents” at work:

Put simply, noisy parenting means not hiding the fact that you are a parent from coworkers, co-workers, or supervisors. “It means not being ashamed of having children to care for and, in fact, being proud of the way parenting makes you better at your job,” he says [Lorna] Borenstein, [workplace well-being expert and author of the new book, It’s Personal: The Business Case for Caring]. “It means being open about your children, how they affect your life – both negatives and positives – and taking an interest in other parents who have this shared experience.”

In other words, the next time you’re late for a work meeting instead of blaming your wifi or your commute, be honest about your 7 year old needing help logging into or finding her breakout session School supplies. Or let’s say that a coworker would put a 5pm meeting on your calendar and parents said, “I’m sorry, I have to prepare my child’s dinner at this time – can you meet earlier?”

To some extent, we had no choice but to be louder at work during the pandemic, especially for many of us who work from home alongside children studying from home. Children show up on Zoom calls and make their presence known whether we like it or not. But when they go back to the classroom and we eventually go back to the office, we need to keep parenting loud. Our children do not evaporate from existence just because they no longer interrupt our meetings. They still affect our daily schedules and we are still growing because of them.

Especially managers and executives in the workplace who are parents have to parent even louder, because a boss who talks about their children or announces that they are leaving early to see the spring concert sets the tone so that everyone else is comfortable feel the same. And those who aren’t parents can encourage people on their teams to get louder by checking in with them from time to time to ask about their children.

Being someone who writes about parenting for a living makes it easier for me to parent loudly at work these days. It is my literal job to identify the pain points parents are experiencing in their daily life and try to offer solutions. However, I care to share more with my co-workers than just my parenting experience as this leads to article ideas. I tell them funny things my child says. I tell them when I will be offline because I have to pick him up from school or because I have to take him to a doctor’s appointment or when I am taking a break because he is having a tough day and it takes some one on one. I don’t allow any of these things to affect my day’s productivity. I just acknowledge they exist, take care of them, and then get back to work.

Besides, he’s not all I talk about – they also know about the neighbors who yell a lot, the broken water heater, and the dog that chews things into tiny pieces. Parents and nonparents alike face challenges, interruptions and health crises. It doesn’t make us less engaged, or less productive, or less professional – and neither does parenting.