WHO SHE IS
Allison Rowe, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Yahoo Finance
WHERE SHE IS
San Francisco, Calif.
Five months pregnant project managing an apartment remodel while leading the live streaming of Yahoo Live’s first festival and realizing delegating is the only way to get it all done!
Monday – Friday, 9am – 4:45pm (that 15 minutes is critical in making daycare pick-ups!)
Graham, 6 months
Withdrawing from real life for a moment by cooking – normally opening the fridge and channeling my inner Iron Chef – or watching a broad assortment of good (and bad) reality TV.
RECENT SMART READ
When Breath Becomes Air, by Dr. Paul Kalanithi
Sitting on my night table waiting to be read – Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
FAVORITE WEEKNIGHT DINNER
I love cold-weather comfort food. My closest friends and family request Mac and Cheese by Ina Garten. You can make this ahead and bake later, or even freeze and pop right into the oven when needed — a tip I tested while on maternity leave. My modifications:
- Substitute sharp cheddar instead of Gruyere
- Don’t add fresh tomatoes
- Use Japanese panko instead of breadcrumbs
Martha Stewart Living & San Francisco Apartment Association
FAVORITE TV SHOW
Fixer Upper & Downton Abbey
Pandora – it’s the soundtrack to my life
Parenthoods app – because all parents need a community to source activities, share stories, and trade baby goods
Yahoo Weather app – a must for outfit planning, packing or checking the time in any city around the world
Yahoo Finance app – my portfolio in my pocket
BEST TIME-MANAGEMENT TIP
Death by checklist. I have a list for everything that needs to get done at work, at home, things I need to buy at the store, goals for the weekend, or items to grab before I leave for the airport. I use lists to ruthlessly prioritize and plan ahead.
Weekends are my get ahead time. I use a list to track groceries, meal plan, and will typically prepare all our meals for the week on Sunday.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO DO WITH YOUR CHILDREN WHEN YOU AREN’T WORKING?
We are at the hyper learning stage so we go to music class, swim class, and hang out in the house reading books, practicing tummy time with toys, and singing songs.
HOW DOES BEING A MOM MAKE YOU GREAT AT WHAT YOU DO?
It’s given me a new perspective on how I spend my time. I am more patient but also more efficient at maximizing my time in the office by having clear objectives for every project and outlining actionable next steps for all stakeholders.
1. Congratulations on being a new mom back and thriving in the work world. How are you, the baby, your husband, the dog (!)… adjusting?
We are doing well and I think adjustment sums up my experience being a new mom. I’ve found I’m still able to accomplish what I need to do, I just may achieve it differently these days. My husband and I are experts at dividing and conquering and tailoring our work schedules to accommodate priorities each week. We started this thinking during my pregnancy so it was a natural transition once Graham was born. Mornings, for instance, he’s out walking the dog while I’m feeding Graham and dropping him off at daycare.
We’re also more flexible about getting help. For the first time we’ve hired house cleaners to free up our weekend time together. Days I’m commuting to Sunnyvale or traveling for work he’s on full baby duty so we’ll have our dog sitter come take the dog out on walks. While it can be hard to stomach the extra expense it’s the best alternative to bring in extra resources when our bandwidth is limited.
2. It can be an anxious time leaving baby at daycare or with a nanny as you head back to work. What did you do to make sure you were comfortable with the situation starting up at work again and what was the transition period like?
Finding childcare was the most stressful item both before and after we had Graham. It’s highly competitive and expensive in San Francisco, not to mention needing a place that’s safe for a small baby. Against the advice of friends, I waited to find childcare until I went on maternity leave and had the time and mind space to properly search and think about my priorities. I read blogs and talked with my husband about whether daycare, nanny share, or even asking for family help would be the best route for us.
Given our work schedules we decided on daycare since it’s close to our house and seemed the most flexible and dependable option with the least amount of variables. After compiling a short list I ended up going on four tours and had a pretty immediate sense where I felt comfortable and where the kids seemed happy and well cared for. I validated this with reviews on Yelp and even lingering around pick-up time to talk with parents about their experience.
Even after all this research I had a lot of anxiety my last week of maternity. The magnitude of change felt overwhelming and not knowing how I would feel with us being apart every day plagued me. My first drop-off my husband came for moral support and I found it way easier than the teary encounter I was expecting. Graham was received in confident, welcoming arms with big smiles and after a number of competent questions I too found myself smiling and feeling confident he was going to be well taken care of. It’s been two months and I feel extremely thankful to have someone who loves and cares for my baby every day while I’m at work.
3. You came back from maternity leave to a new job on a different team at Yahoo. How was that?
While on maternity leave my boss contacted me about shifting gears when I returned and moving back into Product Marketing. I’ve moved teams a few times at Yahoo and this one was probably the easiest since I had already wrapped up my work before I left and could start fresh when I got back.
The biggest benefit I found was there was no established routine to fall back into. This may be nerve wracking for some, but given my intense schedule before maternity I appreciated not having to fight against processes and expectations that just didn’t match my new reality. Both the business and the partners were all new to me so when ramping up it was natural to tailor my schedule to achieve a good work-life balance right off the bat.
4. You mentioned when we spoke that you had been worried about the right time to have children. Can you talk a little more about what your concerns were, what helped you work through them, and how you feel now on the other side?
Ever since I was a child I knew I wanted a family – perhaps even a big family – but it took me the longest time to feel comfortable as an adult and even think about this possibility in the short term. Every time someone would ask I’d always say, “We’re thinking about it, but probably not for another couple years.”
On paper everything seemed perfect – I’m married, have been at the same company for many years, and even own a house. But emotionally, I was scared. I didn’t feel ready. Starting a family is a big commitment and I wasn’t convinced I was at a point in my career where I was stable enough to have a child. Questions I would ask myself: “Can we afford it? Do I have the time? Is my job even stable enough to make it through a full pregnancy?”
So we held off for many years – never feeling ready. In 2014 we hiked to Machu Picchu and I saw people and families happy and content at every stage of life and in various financial situations. It made me appreciate what I have and gave me the push to stop being afraid and trust I can manage whatever life throws at me.
We got pregnant just a few months after that trip and while my pregnancy wasn’t always easy I had total support from my boss and experienced immense career growth even as I approached maternity leave. Not being afraid and keeping perspective are skills that have served me well as I embraced starting a family, attacking challenges at work, and adjusting to the changes a new baby brings.
5. What’s your best advice to other women who might be in your shoes — either just about to go on maternity leave or just coming back?
I think we as women and mothers have unrealistic expectations for ourselves so I’d say try to put those aside and acknowledge just how difficult a job we have in between juggling baby duties, work, and any number of things we put on our plate. As much as my husband tries to help there are some things that I will inevitably have to do and it can be overwhelming. Knowing this will be and is supposed to be hard makes it easier to cut yourself some slack and celebrate the small wins – making dinner (yay!), getting the baby to bed at a reasonable hour (yay!), or getting anywhere on time (yay!).
I learned early during my pregnancy I cannot do it all and to surrender to this new adventure, this new way of life. It has its ups (each developmental milestone!), its downs (lack of sleep!) yet it’s all part of this process and we have to try and enjoy each and every moment.
I’d also suggest building a strong community around you. It’s so much easier to have perspective when you can swap stories, get advice, and just have other people to talk to and spend time with. While on maternity leave I traded weekly conference calls for mommy walks, and any mom and baby social functions I could find including infant massage classes, stroller boot camp, postnatal yoga, baby swim classes, and infant music classes. Luckily, apps like Parenthoods, neighborhood groups on Facebook, or local parenting organizations like Golden Gate Mother’s Group in San Francisco make connecting and meeting other parents fairly easy.
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