Many times I’ve stood in front of a room of executives and decision makers to sell a product whose value I was quite certain I understood. I wasn't yet a father myself, but intellectually, I could see (and explain) the impact of Care@Work's family care benefits on working parents, their employers and the economy. I believed in the product we’re selling, which felt like a good thing.
Then my wife, Michelle, told me she was pregnant. And our worlds changed.
I think it hit me straight away that having a baby was going to change things. Almost immediately I started to grow concerned about how I would be able to manage my commitments to work and family, and how we were going to find care for our daughter. Despite being the global head of sales for Care.com -- a company whose core business is helping families find and manage care -- now that I was living it, I was still struck by the gravity of the unique situation of becoming parents for the first time.
So many people go through it -- literally millions every year -- yet it just doesn’t seem to get any easier.
It's not that people aren’t helpful. They are … or rather they want to be. It feels like you have endless options--and endless opinions--to consider. You have all of this conflicting information about how you’re going to feel, what you should do and what’s going to happen. As a first-time parent, who’s never really been responsible for anyone other than myself (and a couple of cats), it was totally overwhelming.
Searching for Child Care
Shortly after we learned we were pregnant, Michelle began researching child care and gathering information from just about everyone we knew: family, neighbors, friends and colleagues. We collected more input and details on day care centers and nannies than we could ever need, and still we didn’t know what we were going to do once we’ve had our little girl.
Like many couples, my wife and I both work full-time. Finding reliable, high-quality child care was critical for our ability to continue to do our jobs and take care of our family. And, while we recognized millions of people face care issues every day, it was hard not to feel like we were the first people ever to go through this.
Saturday morning, between the scramble of getting things done for the house and catching up on work, I sat down, opened my laptop and logged on through my Care.com membership to start looking for child care. With a simple search, we had every option right there in front of us, but we still really didn’t know what type of care to look for to best meet our family’s needs. We weren’t even sure if we wanted a nanny, day care center or an au pair. Again, it was overwhelming.
With all of the conflicting opinions from friends and family we were getting, even with the technology that Care.com has, we just needed to get unbiased advice and to speak with someone we knew was an expert. Enter Care@Work’s Expert Assistance.
Finding an unbiased, consultative, personalized advisor
The Expert Assistance service connects employees directly with Care Specialists from Care.com who can help identify and narrow down care options through a needs assessment, pre-screening and even some basic background checks. As expectant parents navigating a complex care situation for the first time, the prospect of having an unbiased, consultative advisor was extremely appealing to us as a way to help focus our search.
The very next week, I had a phone call with Jackie, one of Care.com’s Care Specialists. She began the process with five simple questions about our core needs and preferences. She also helped me understand the pros and cons of daycare centers versus nannies. I felt immediate relief -- this brief phone call had averted hours and hours that I would have spent going in circles researching without clear direction.
A few days later, I received a list of daycare centers and supporting resources that were a direct match to our criteria. My wife and I both have demanding jobs in sales, with frequent travel, so having a center that provides real-time updates and photos of our child, as well as before- and after-hours care flexibility is critical.
Throughout the process, what struck me most about Jackie was how objective and professional she was, yet also very personal in the way she managed our needs. She helped us get to the point where we had what we needed to choose a care solution for our family. We recently signed a contract with a daycare center near our home.
Having the Expert Assistance benefit lifted a great weight off of my shoulders. I had someone to take some of the workload and relieve the stress of finding care for the first time. It freed up time to focus on Michelle’s pregnancy and get our home in order. Without Expert Assistance, I would probably still be procrastinating right now and potentially missing deadlines for getting our daughter into the daycare that works best for us.
It wasn’t relevant to me…until it was
I would describe this time in my life as … like no other time in my life. When we first found out that Michelle was pregnant, we were absolutely ecstatic. Fairly quickly after that I started to become overwhelmed, and one of those things I felt overwhelmed about was how we were going to manage our work-life balance -- not just after her pregnancy, but during as well.
The transition to parenthood is a high-stress situation. You’re in this race to get everything in order -- the nursery, the baby-proofing, the classes -- so you’re prepared for the day you get to bring your baby home. Meanwhile, you’re balancing those new commitments with trying to keep your work life on track and, if you’re lucky, planning for your paternity or maternity leave.
I am very grateful to work for a company like Care.com. Not only do we have the Care@Work benefits, like Expert Assistance and Backup Care, but people within the organization have a macro-level understanding of what it’s like for the millions of new parents who go through my situation. I’ve spoken to countless friends and family who work for other organizations, and most don’t get the same level of support that we do at Care.com.
There’s no formula for choosing the right child care solution or figuring out how much time to take off work for the birth of your child. These are universal challenges yet unique to individual situations. Millions of families face these challenges every day. When you’re living it, it’s clear the way our culture approaches caregiving is not a women’s issue or a men’s issue, but a workforce issue.
Over the last two years at Care.com, I’ve come to understand – now firsthand – the role family care benefits play at the most critical moments in our lives. And I’m proud to be able to pay it forward through the work we do every day.
Ben Robinson is VP of Global Sales at Care.com, where he leads the U.S. and European B-to-B sales and account management teams for Care@Work. Ben has held previous positions as VP of Sales for International SOS, as well as National Sales Director and Director of Major Accounts for TNT Express. Originally from the U.K., Ben and his wife, Michelle, live outside New York City with their two cats, Oink and Pearl. They are expecting their first child in August 2017.
This post is part of a series authored by Care.com employees, where they share firsthand experiences using Care@Work benefits, and reflect on the impact it’s made on their personal and professional lives.
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