Working moms spend every waking minute striving to keep their family life and work responsibilities—sometimes simultaneously—up and running. They run their lives based on contingency plans for the “what-if” scenarios and recovery plans from the inevitable everyday disasters, all with the goal of minimal impact to home and workplace operations. If you’re out there earning the title “working mom” every day like I am, adopting a business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) mindset might help you in your everyday quest to maintain seamless operations at the office and on the home front.
Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, and Working Moms
Since my recent debut as a working mother when I returned from maternity leave, I haven’t been able to help seeing my role akin to that of a BC/DR planner. Some of the most striking similarities, which have become quickly and vividly clear to me in recent months:
Both businesses and working moms are 24x7x365 operations where uptime is critical. As we all know, businesses must tend to the wellbeing of their operations—and the network that supports them—around the clock while maintaining a relentless focus on meeting customer needs. Similarly, working mothers strive to be constantly available to support their children’s wellbeing, while also meeting deadlines.
BC/DR is all about planning ahead and being prepared; so is successfully functioning as a working mother. Companies need detailed contingency plans that specify how they’ll respond to a natural disaster or a manmade crisis. In the same way, working moms must constantly think through the what-ifs: “What if he needs another change of clothes at daycare? What if this fever does not break by tomorrow? ” To address the what-ifs, just like businesses, moms live by contingency plans—from extra changes of clothes to backup childcare.
Whether in business or parenting, a crisis requires immediate response. In either case, being properly equipped enables you to respond in an instant. For businesses, that means having a detailed BC/DR plan that is continually tested and updated. For working moms, disaster preparedness can mean anything from keeping a fully stocked diaper bag to having the phone number for the poison control center programmed into your smartphone.
The true test of a DR plan is a crisis. Planning and preparedness can help your business avoid risks and threats and contain the impact when business interruption cannot be avoided. As many businesses have learned the hard way, you should never wait for a disaster to prove the need for a solid BC/DR plan that you repeatedly test and update.
The same goes for a household. For working moms, most domestic disasters are hopefully relatively minor: failing to bring along enough diapers for baby, neglecting to buy enough ingredients for a weeknight meal or forgetting to arrange a ride to sports practice for a middle-schooler. Planning ahead can prevent many of these daily “disasters” in the first place, or at least minimize the disruption they cause.
Think you’ve finally got this disaster readiness thing down? Neither a business nor a working mom can ever get too comfortable. Over time, BC/DR plans must evolve to meet the needs of your dynamic, ever-changing, growing business. Same goes for working mothers. As children constantly grow and change, moms must think through and plan for new “what-if” scenarios—arranging backup logistics for extracurricular activities, for example, as the baby grows into a school-aged child.
Mommy DR: When “It” Actually Did Hit The Fan
An experience I had on a recent mall trip with my four-month-old daughter is a perfect example of “mommy DR” in action. I was at the checkout counter when my daughter began screaming. I immediately jumped into crisis response mode to make sure she was safe, as my primary concern was for her health and wellbeing—just as companies approaching a business crisis are first and foremost concerned with the health and safety of their employees. Upon pulling her out of her car carrier, I quickly discerned the nature of the crisis: diaper blowout.
While this may not seem like a disaster to some, to a new mom this is a major crisis. Panic set in—where is the nearest bathroom??? Learning from my last experience at the mall, I had a mall map in my diaper bag. I quickly found the closest bathroom and pulled out the preparedness toolkit, a.k.a the diaper bag. Because I had planned ahead and brought all the essentials (diaper bag with wipes, diapers, extra outfit and hand sanitizer) we were able to successfully recover from the diaper blowout disaster. Just like in business, preparedness saved the day.
No Such Thing As Too Prepared
As I prepare to start another work week, I can’t help but think I must be in the right business. Every Sunday, I conduct disaster preparedness with a grocery run, diaper restock and meal planning for the week ahead. I check and recheck my contingency plan with a fully stocked preparedness toolkit (a.k.a. diaper bag) with diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, two changes of clothes, bottles, bibs, burp cloths and more. My mobile recovery unit (car) is always ready to provide failover services with a first-aid kit and extra supplies. I can easily retrieve my vital records, with pediatrician, pharmacy and poison control center phone numbers readily available in my iPhone in the event of an emergency.
I test my plan weekly, update and improve it, and test it again. All of this planning and preparing—and the recovery efforts that must take place when disaster cannot be prevented—enable me to continuously service my customers, i.e., my family and my company. While it might seem like I’m taking this BC/DR thing a little too far, there’s no such thing for today’s working mom—or for today’s businesses. Are you prepared to deal with “it” hitting the fan?
This piece was first published on Forbes.com.