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  • Writer's pictureGrace Simpson

Spring Forward: A Time to Reflect and Renew During Life's Big Moments

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

My perspective on navigating being a mother to three under five, looming layoffs, and life's big transitions.

The tulip garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario. I took my middle child for a Mama + Son day to visit the frog exhibit recently.

Reflecting on Motherhood with Three

Sometimes the best laid plans...

About as soon as my husband and I decided we would wait a little bit longer to try for a third baby, life gave us other plans. We had two wildly energetic toddlers and we finally felt like we were getting a handle on this whole 'parents of two' thing, so this was a bit of a detour. I had gone back to work at 7-month post-partum after my second baby, I was super focused on excelling in my career to finally achieve the promotion that felt like it had been dangled in front of me twice before being taken away when I departed to start and then expand my family. But, life sometimes has other plans!

I was super focused on excelling in my career to finally achieve the promotion at work that felt like it had been dangled in front of me twice before being taken away

Life felt super hectic during my pregnancy - we were wrapping up a renovation and there just never seemed to be enough hours to make a dent in our never ending to-do list. But, when our third baby arrived, it was the calm the family all needed. We all took a moment to breathe and just enjoy this little girl that had entered our lives. And she slept great and ate great and loved her brothers and just made life so much brighter.

Is Three Harder than Two?

I cannot believe how many parents have asked about the transition from two to three children as they consider expanding their own family. Having any number of children is a lot of work and that is regardless if you have one, two, three or more. I am no more exhausted than I was before and there are even more special moments of sibling bonding to enjoy these days. Objectively speaking, financially, more kids are more expensive (of course!) and with pre-school costs in Canada being partially covered, it is a relief to not have to get a second job to afford to have three in care.

Renewing yourself as a Priority

I have enjoyed maternity leave more than ever before. I struggled with new mama anxiety a lot with my first child because learning to breastfeed was super hard and sleep for hard and I just felt like I had so much to learn. My second child was born just a few weeks before the pandemic lockdowns and talk to any parent and you will hear how difficult pandemic parenting was for most of us. This time around, I made some incredible new mama friends and have taken my own well-being more seriously by taking up hot yoga, switching to matcha and daily journalling.

[I] have taken my own well-being more seriously by taking up hot yoga, switching to matcha and daily journalling.

I am ever so grateful for the pause in my career with this time off because even though it came with sacrifices, it has been a needed break in my hectic lifestyle that made it hard for me to relax. Relaxing is still something that I struggle with today because it always feels like I am playing catch-up. But, as my leave comes to an end, there are other things on my mind as tech companies announce significant layoffs.

Anxiety About Layoffs

Is it 2015 all over again?

After working a closing shift at Target in the winter of 2015, I slept in the next morning (clearly before having children!) and woke to a text from a close friend asking me in the news about Target going bankrupt in Canada was for real. I remember feeling utter confusion and complete shock as I quickly Googled to figure out what she was talking about. Weeks before I had interviewed for a Store Team Leader position and just a few days prior had found out I successfully passed the interviews. And now, much to my surprise, I was suddenly going to be jobless. Fast forward a few months and I did end up taking on my new role, albeit, it was to lead a team through the liquidation process. That entire experience taught me so much about motivating a team, having grit to deal with difficult circumstances and mostly importantly, how a company's priority is to look out for its own well being. If you want, read more about what I learned from Target experience.

Employees get really invested and committed to their company's long-term success. I know, because I fall into that pattern too. But, as an employee, your priority is to look out for your own well-being. Sometimes that aligns with giving your all to your company's mission and sometimes that does not.

Looming Layoffs in 2023

Now, years later, I find myself in a similar position. I am waiting to hear if I will be laid off from Amazon - because you never know who may be impacted and when the news could come. In November 2022, January 2023, and March 2023 Andy Jassy (CEO) and the S-Team (Exec Team) announced 27,000 employees will be laid off due to challenging economic conditions. Many of these role eliminations are coming from the PXT (People eXperience Team aka Human Resources) organization which is my team.

This time around I am in a much different position. I am currently ending my 12-month maternity leave and since these layoffs were announced publicly, I anxiously check my work email daily for any sign of next steps. Maternity leave in Canada is truly an exceptional benefit (offering 12 or 18-months of paid leave with full job protection) that affords families a beautiful (and much needed) time to focus on their own little growing organization. But, from a career perspective, it is easy to have people forget about you when are on leave and someone else is doing your job. This is especially true at a company like Amazon that moves so fast and sees leaders change as quickly as a newborn changes diaper sizes.

It is easy to have people forget about you when are on leave and someone else is doing your job.

So, I am taking opportunity to reflect on my career, my priorities and my next steps. I have way more questions than answers right now, but with some inspiration from my husband and a friend, I am looking to balance patiently waiting with taking action.

Supporting Others During Big Life Changes

Whether it is a current or pending layoff, or a new addition to the family, both of these are significant life changing events. As of early April 2023, has reported almost 170,000 layoffs in the tech sector globally, so many people right now are going through a big professional change. And of course, people are always having babies!

Here are a few ideas on how to support others during life big changes.

  1. Check in! It can feel super lonely to go through these big life changes and often people are too cautious about asking how everything is going. "How are you doing?" can feel like an overwhelming question to answer because it can be hard to capture your life status through so many changing emotions. Instead try saying "How are you doing this morning?" which allows your person to focus on their status in a super short window and it can feel easier to answer.

  2. Share resources! There is always a careful balance between over-sharing and seeming pushy about providing advice versus your person feeling in the dark about what else is out there (because sorting through all the noise is really tough!). Sometimes the best way to do this is to indirectly share information and allow your person to decide if they want to look into it further themselves. This could be as simple as reposting an Instagram story with a note about how you found this information helpful.

  3. Bring a treat! Sharing something small to brighten someone's day can sometimes make a big difference to bring the sunshine. You know your person best, but this could be a bunch of spring tulips, sending a funny meme, bringing over a gift card for dinner, going on a walk on a sunny day, or dropping off a fancy Starbucks drink.

Next for Grace on Careers

I hope to use this platform to share how I navigate my own career and share perspective and guidance to others who are trying to do the same (especially if you are a parent!).

I read a post from an ex-Amazon Executive who posts about Straight Truths and he discussed how HR is Not There to Help You (worth the read), and judging by the comments, he is far from the only person to see HR this way. So, consider me a talent leader who in this space, does not have the obligation to report into a company and can share feedback and insight as your own HR person.

Have a tough HR, career or talent topic that you could use some help with? Please reach out!

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