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Allison Robinson saw a need for new moms like herself, and she filled it. The CEO and founder of The Mom Project, a platform dedicated to helping moms find flexible work opportunities, was shocked when she first learned how many mothers leave the workforce after having children. She set out to bridge the gap between organizations and moms, by creating opportunities for companies and professionals to grow and thrive while giving moms the ability to not be forced to choose between career and family.
Allison, tell us about you:
Starting The Mom Project was personal for me. While on maternity leave from Procter & Gamble with my first child, I read a jarring statistic that an estimated 43% of highly skilled women leave the workforce after becoming mothers. I started to imagine a future where women would not have to choose between parenthood and their careers. Inspired by the birth of my first son and on behalf of moms everywhere, I founded The Mom Project in 2016.
Our mission is even more important, and the urgency in which we must help solve the issue has been compounded with the pandemic, since which women have experienced a staggering 11.9 million in lost jobs. Now, with new challenges such as lack of resources, coupled with the increased expense of child care, burnout from trying to hold it all together with work and family and oneself, and the push/pull with flexible models vs. return to office mandates, our mission has never been more critical.
At The Mom Project, we recognize that working mothers face multiple obstacles in terms of economic advancement and that businesses struggle to find the experienced talent they need to grow. We aim to bridge the gap between the needs of both, creating opportunities for companies and professionals to grow and thrive while also giving moms the ability to not have to choose between career and family.
What struggles have you encountered balancing work and motherhood? How do you navigate them?
Before I had children, the idea that women can “have it all” seemed empowering and motivational. While I appreciate the sentiment behind it, the truth is that having it all is not possible. As a result, what’s meant to be motivational turns into an impossible ideal — and when we can’t reach it, we feel as if we’ve failed. I think any mom can understand the struggle of balance and the guilt that ensues when something inevitably slips through the cracks. I’m still learning every day, but I’ve shifted from trying to find balance to instead discovering work-life integration. Balance assumes a set point and an equilibrium that must always be met, but life will continually take its twists and turns — and that’s okay. Different seasons of life will require different priorities, and finding the approach that works best for you is the goal.
How does The Mom Project help working moms find balance in the journey?
Every mom’s journey is unique, and at The Mom Project, we strive to provide opportunities that meet the needs of our moms no matter what stage of life they’re in. From remote and hybrid work to part-time and contract roles, we offer something to fit any situation. While getting moms back to work is our ultimate mission, we provide guidance and support along the way to make it possible for them to get there. Our events are designed to inspire, enlighten, and let moms know they are not alone. We offer programs to uplift moms reentering the workforce, such as RALLY, our mentorship initiative, and RISE, which offers scholarships for upskilling courses and certifications.
The underlying theme running throughout every one of our offerings is the same: communicating to moms that their contributions are important, their needs matter, and they have an entire community rallying behind them and rooting for their success.
Talk to us about “mom guilt.” Have you felt it? How have you worked through it?
I’ve definitely experienced mom guilt! In fact, I don’t know a mom who hasn’t. The pervasiveness of the “having it all” narrative can put pressure on moms to be everything to everyone. As a result, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you’re not enough.
Let me be the first to say that you are enough. Recognizing this truth on behalf of other moms has helped me work through my own guilt. I believe the path to alleviating guilt begins with acknowledging and accepting that you simply can’t be everywhere all the time. I strive to give myself grace and be as gentle with myself as I am with others.
What is the best thing you learned about parenting and who did you learn it from?
My mom Carol has always been my role model. She’s played an instrumental role in all aspects of my life, including shaping who I am as a parent and inspiring me to start The Mom Project. The best thing she taught me about parenting is the importance of embracing and nurturing the various parts of yourself. My mom left a job she loved to stay at home and take care of me and my siblings. While she cherished the time she got to spend at home with us, she never forgot how much fulfillment her career had brought her, and she would regularly share stories from her time at work with me. She showed me how to lead by example and that acknowledging my needs as a nuanced person, and not just a mom, would make me a better mother.
Now, when times get hard, I always call my mom, and she reminds me why I am here doing the important work we do.
How does Matrescence’s Mission to “mother the mother” resonate with you as a mom? In your career?
Your mission to “mother the mother” absolutely resonates with me, both as a mom and as a parent who works outside the home. Being a mother often means sacrificing your own needs to meet those of someone else — your kids, your partner. We do it out of love, or even necessity, but all those moments where we push our own needs aside add up and, eventually, the burnout that results catches up to us. I experienced this myself in the summer of 2022. Years of hard work while establishing The Mom Project and having young children had taken its toll on me, and I realized I hadn’t been listening to my body and prioritizing my own needs to rest, reflect, and just be. Because I had neglected my own needs for so long, I needed to step away to nurture my health and wellbeing.
Now, I understand the importance of “mothering the mother” and how seamlessly the concept aligns with the mission of The Mom Project. Connecting women with jobs at family-friendly companies, those that see the person beyond the role, enables the work-life integration that makes taking time for oneself possible. Working with companies like Matrescence that truly care about the unique needs of mothers makes our work possible, and I’m so grateful for partnerships like yours.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of being a mom, and how do you manage it?
For me, the most challenging aspect of being a mom is that there are never enough hours in the day for me to do all that I want to do with my children. There are so many stages of childhood, each of which is unique and full of new joys to discover, and as a mother I wish I had all the time in the world to soak in the experiences. I believe this is a universal experience for mothers, whether we work outside the home or not; no matter how much time we have with our kids, it will never be enough.
This awareness has made the time I do get with my children even more precious, guiding me to be more present in every moment and helping me create memories I’ll carry with me always.
Anything else you want us to know?
While the journey of motherhood is unique for each person, you are not alone. Millions of moms have walked in your shoes, and we’re here to provide uplifting support when you need it. Seek out your community and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You’ve got this!