Navigating Work-Life Integration as a First-Time Mom

Many of you know me as Ashley Jeffrey, or as of October 4, 2014 Ashley Jeffrey Bouck. I have been the Executive Director of Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital Region since 2012, and I love what I do! Besides adding on a new last name in the past few years, I proudly have added the title of  2017 WBC Chair.

I kicked off my year as WBC Chair a little bit differently than most chairs. I had my first child on November 27, 2016, so I was on maternity leave when my chairwomanship started. When I was asked by our previous Chair, Jen Regan, to be her Vice Chair last year, I told her my husband and I would be trying to get pregnant that year. But in true Lean In fashion, I didn’t want to count myself out of an amazing opportunity for something that hadn’t happened yet. The WBC was the first volunteer and networking council I joined when I became Executive Director of Girls Inc. It has given me so many opportunities to meet other like-minded professional women, provided countless resources and knowledge from our monthly programs, and introduced me to some of my now closest friends. The WBC has helped me grow not only professionally, but personally, too.

Now as I have added the title, and best job ever – MOM – I have new challenges that I know I can rely on the WBC to help me solve. The theme of Work-Life Balance is a constant topic for many events and programs, not only at the WBC, but all over the Capital Region and beyond. We have had panelists, like our most recent program in February, who share their wisdom of “how do you do it all”? We eagerly sit on the edges of our seats in anticipation that one of these times we will hear the most well kept secret, the silver bullet, on how to achieve Work-Life Balance. After all, before I had my daughter, I still could not figure it out! This is something that regardless if you are married, single, parent to human children or furry children, we all struggle with it. Then I heard a more realistic idea, and it’s what has helped relieve some of the stress of trying to achieve balance: Work-Life Integration.

The concept of Work-Life Integration was shared with me over lunch by my Board Chair when we were talking about the unattainable goal of Work-Life Balance. She had said to me, “With Work-Life Integration, you understand that there are some times that work may take up more hours of your day, and other times life may take up more hours of your day.” In a way, Work-Life Integration gave me permission to work long hours when we were busy with event season, and also permission to leave work for a few hours for a doctor appointment so I didn’t push it back. It allowed me to not feel guilty checking my email towards the end of my maternity leave to delete junk email, and also not feel guilty I can continue to work hard and also take care of me, which is what we all really want at the end of the day.

I’ve only been back to work for 3 weeks, and I wouldn’t have survived these three weeks without keeping this mindset of Work-Life Integration. I am also blessed to have a Mom Squad, many of whom I met through the WBC, who have given me the most invaluable mom hacks and are always there when I need to vent. Plus, they’ll go pump with you after our monthly programs in an empty room at the Desmond 😉

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My daughter, Carmela Rose, and me the day of our last WBC Program, which was also Valentine’s Day.

 

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