Finding a Work-family Balance as a Drupal Professional

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I'm now a mother of two children still in diapers. And I am a Drupal professional. Finding a balance between work and family feels something like walking a tight-rope, where one mis-step will be catastrophic (with large budgets and my professional reputation on the line on one side, and the literal survival of my children -- or at least their long-term mental wellbeing -- on the line on the other).

As the mother (who nurses and is the primary caregiver for my children), and as a Project Manager who always has to remain two steps ahead of my teams in order to keep projects from falling behind, this struggle is especially acute. It is, however, a reality on many levels for a lot of members of our community. The world benefits when parents are part of the workforce, but it is extremely challenging for us to find the right way to be our best in both places.

This session is meant to be a panel discussion to help

- new parents navigating work/family life
- soon to be parents who intend to continue working
- Drupal business owners hoping to retain team members transitioning into family life

It is possible to do both. It is awesome to be able to do both. But it is not easy, and should not be attempted in a vacuum.

Another important note: this description talks about parenthood, but the session is really about being a caregiver and a professional, which is not limited to parenthood and children.

Topics we will cover:

  • Please speak to your specific challenges.
  • How have you made your situation work? What sacrifices have you had to make in order to make your situation work?
  • Are there some systemic changes that you think Drupal organizations in general might implement in order to improve work-family balance for their employees?
  • How do you make the case for those changes? Why is it worth their while?
  • (if time) Are there specific roles that you feel lend themselves more readily to primary care-givers?

Confirmed panelists:

  • AmyJune Hineline
  • Oliver Seldman
  • Steve Rifkin
  • Rain Michaels
Business and Strategy
One hour


Thanks for putting this panel together...will make a nice conversation.

Your intended audience

- new parents navigating work/family life
- soon to be parents who intend to continue working
- Drupal business owners hoping to retain team members transitioning into family life

I find it just as difficult to find balance as my kids are now teenagers as I did when they were babies and toddlers.

Good point! I crafted this idea based on my own experiences, and I don't have teens yet ;) And a big part of me was hoping it would get easier, lol. Are you planning to be at camp?

I have been giving it some thought. I will just be getting back from vacation that Wednesday and have to coordinate my schedule. I work with Hook 42 so I have some wiggle room as far as being able to work remote!

As a Drupal shop owner and a new mom, it is super hard to find the balance. I couldn't have done it without the extended tribe at Hook 42 and the Drupal community and my family.

I'd love to join the panel, but I have a baby and my work travel has changed quite a bit.

We also find it a challenge for parents / caregivers are returning back into the workforce. So many are talented but may need adjusted full-time schedules as they return to work. Hook 42 actively promotes and supports our team to choose hours and schedules that work best for their work-family balance.

Thanks for the comment. I'm sorry you won't be able to attend, but would love to know more about the ways that Hook 42 successfully supports your team in this area. If you have a moment and are able to hit me up on Drupal slack, I'm at @rain. Congratulations on the baby :)

Unfortunately, the recording for this panel cut out at about 20 minutes. The second half was a great conversation that covered a number of ways that professional organizations can adjust culturally in order to create a more inclusive space for families and caregivers. Following are the key take-aways:
  1. Sharnnia brought up the personal approach of allowing yourself to go with the flow, and accept that not all of your choices will work out, and that is okay. Along those lines, Steve also talked about really accepting change, even on a daily basis.
  2. Hook42 has a #gone-fishing channel where people can post things like “changing a diaper blowout, back in 20” and it is okay to have those communications. This helps with expectations and communication.
  3. Hook42 also has a practice where they pair people with matching work styles / schedules on the same teams (e.g. the early risers would be on one team and the late risers on another). This addresses challenges like the one Rain brought up of having situations where critical-path people get their work back to the rest of their team after those with family are no longer available.
  4. Multiple panelists brought up that it would be (or, where enforce, has been/is) helpful to create the organizational expectation that anything critical-path, team building, time sensitive has to happen between 9:30-5pm to account for access to daycare, etc. Hook42 also has flexible hours for their employees, but it is expected that 60% of those hours are spent between the hours of 9-5 so that the team is able to work together without placing any undo burden on other members (flexible hours within reason).
  5. Along those same lines, Oliver brought up how valuable it is when equalizing measures are always considered with decisions of how an organization runs. For example, if you have a daily conference call where most of your team is in an office, but a few work remotely, rather than having those in the office come into the same room and then have the remote ones call in (thus creating a disadvantage for the remote callers), have everyone call in from their own desks.
  6. Another thing that Hook42 has done that has been incredible for creating a sustainable environment for its team is expecting that its full time employees work what is government considered full time of 30 hours, rather than requiring more.
  7. Generally, it is extremely critical that expectations are well communicated across the board, both organizationally and within specific projects. This doesn’t just mean expectations from the top down, but also from team members upward.
  8. Steve brought up the idea of a daily 15 minute standup being helpful for his organization. This gives everyone the opportunity to make sure that they know exactly what is going on for each person on a daily basis.
  9. Top-down attitudes, especially as expressed not only within the organization but also to clients, is extremely important for making the space inclusive. Rain brought up the example of having to pump while on calls. Stauffer made it very clear that this was okay, and made it clear to the clients that this is okay.
  10. Rain mentioned making sure that you get on your childcare waiting lists as soon as you know you are pregnant since they can be extremely long.
  11. Ashok (from audience) brought up that his company has a policy of “life happens."