Category Archives: Career

Did I really wear 2 different color shoes today?

img15 Ways I Learned to Minimize Working Mama Drama

Of course, it was a really important day for me. I was presenting a leadership development program to senior leaders in my organization in about 25 minutes.

Everything seemed to be going fine. I got to work early. I had the room setup the night before. I reviewed the materials one last time. Life was good. And then it happened…One of my team members quietly says, “Did you get dressed in the dark this morning?” Huh? She looks down and I follow her eyes. And there it is, two different shoes. And we’re not talking the famous navy blue/black combo that you can almost get away with in the right light. We’re talking an incredibly attractive blue/ beige combo that couldn’t be missed by a legally blind person. I was not happy. So, the answer to her question was yes. I had dressed in the dark while trying very hard not to wake a sleeping baby that I had spent hours trying to get to sleep.

Something happened that day. I knew I had to make some changes in my life. It just wasn’t working. But how do you this when you feel like you are blocked at every turn? Between the lack of sleep, the laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, housecleaning, doctor appointments, and all the other things on my impossibly long “to do” list, how was I supposed to fit work in at all, let alone excel at it? For that matter, how I going to excel at anything? I knew I had to minimize the chaos in my life. I found 5 strategies that truly helped me succeed.

I started with small but consistent changes. There is something to be said for the point behind “The Tortoise and The Hare.” In the past, I was famous for putting together these elaborate self improvement plans where I was going to get up and execute everything perfectly. Let’s just say, those didn’t work out. I asked myself, how is this time going to be different? So, I changed my philosophy to one that was more practical. Rather than try to change everything at once, I focused on a few things that I felt would give me a huge boost. I spent 10 – 20 minutes a day in the evening walking and I spent 10 minutes a day in the afternoon meditating. This was not a huge amount of time and these were 2 habits I could easily incorporate. And as it turns out, these habits really paid off. I still had tons to do, but I had a little more energy and a lot more peace of mind.
I forgave myself for not being perfect. I decided to let some things go. I learned to cook more in the crock pot and stop freaking out if my house wasn’t as clean as I wanted it to be. If your home doesn’t look like it should be on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, so what? You don’t have to be perfect. If you are providing a loving home for your family, you’re doing just fine. Decide what is truly important, focus on that, and let the rest go.
I asked for help. This was so incredibly hard for me. I guess I felt that I should have things more together. That somehow this was a sign of weakness. But I learned something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. People that have networks of support are happier, less stressed, and feel a sense of connection. Keep in mind, your network can come from anywhere. For me, I didn’t have family in the area. In fact, I didn’t have family within 500 miles of me. I found my connections through my church and the moms at my children’s school. I reached out to the other working mothers and over time, I had an amazing network of support and was able to provide a lot of support to others as well.
I learned to be grateful. This might sound strange. It sounded strange to me at first too. I read an article about the power of gratitude and it hit me, really hard. For the past few years I truly had been anything but grateful. In fact, I was the opposite of grateful. I was sort of angry. I was resentful that others seemed to have it easier than me. Instead of being happy and celebrating others’ successes, I would be drawn into a negative spiral of self pity. I’m not proud of this. But I take heart in the fact that I had enough self awareness to recognize it and do something about it. I began a gratitude journal that took me 5 minutes a day and it was transformational. I had so much to be grateful for.
I learned to take a little time for me. I realized I never took any time for myself to do the simple things. The things that make you feel renewed. The things that bring joy to your life. Turns out, you don’t need a lot, but you do need to make it a priority and plan ahead for it. So, whether it’s a Girls Night Out, a pottery class, or a trip to the bookstore with a huge cup of coffee, you need to take a morning or evening every few weeks just for you. Pay a babysitter, talk to your husband, family member, or whomever, but take some time for you.

So, what do you do if you are in a room full of execs wearing 2 different shoes? You own it baby. I walked up in front of the room, made a joke about getting dressed in the dark, and knocked it out the park. Then, I went home and took a good look at my life. Slowly I found the balance I needed. Life is good. Sometimes we just need to take a step back, make a few tweaks, and roll with it.

Successfully Transitioning into the Workplace as a Working Mom

While motherhood is one of the most rewarding and wonderful experiences a woman can have, raising a happy, healthy, and successful family is a formidable task. You should be encouraged by the fact that you are in very good company! More than 70% of moms with children under the age of 18 have joined the workforce. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) Deciding to go back to work adds an entirely new level of complexity to your life and that of your family. Your life has undoubtedly changed in a profound way.

Given the new demands in your life, the plans you may have had in place may no longer seem ideal. Fortunately, it’s often said that with great change comes great opportunity. This is an ideal time for self-reflection and to evaluate how these new changes have impacted your needs. This is also an opportune time to consider new careers and investigate new possibilities. There are more options than ever to accommodate working mothers; these include flexible schedules, part-time opportunities, and work from home opportunities or starting your own business.

Before re-entering the work force, you should analyze your situation carefully. You must prioritize your needs, identify potential options, seek advice from experts and create both short-term and long-term plans to meet your goals. These key steps will ensure you make a choice that is conducive to both you and your family.

Begin with a thorough analysis of what your needs are, as well as the needs of your family. It is critical that you realize this is a two-step process. The number one mistake working moms make as they attempt to balance their family and their career is that they leave themselves out of the equation. It’s important to truly understand that a mom who feels unfulfilled is not her best self. In fact, it’s not uncommon for this self-sacrificing approach to jeopardize the very thing moms are trying to protect, their relationship with the spouse and children. When someone is unhappy in any given situation, it bleeds into every area of their lives. The working mom is not only no exception to this, they are in fact more vulnerable than most. Happy moms lead happy families.

 

Analyze Your Situation

As you analyze your particular situation, you should determine your flexibility in terms of income needs. It’s important to get very clear on both the minimum and the ideal income you will need to ensure the financial well-being of your family.

Consider the cost of daycare, commuting, clothing, lunches, and tax implications, as you assess the costs and benefits of working. Also consider the routine expenses you will now incur for each child such as added health insurance premiums, doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, dental bills, clothing, food, formula, diapers, and activities, etc.

While you are looking at your financial needs you should also be thinking about what your work/life balance needs are. Would it be worthwhile or even feasible to consider a reduction in pay in exchange for reduced hours or flexible scheduling? Work/life balance is critical. You can’t put a price on a stress-free environment for your family.

Some additional points to consider when analyzing your personal situation are your family’s needs, such as schedules, a spouse that travels, external support systems for emergencies, and childhood illnesses or aging parents. Essentially you are looking to outline the parameters that you have to work with as you evaluate your current or other potential careers.

Determine Your Values and Goals:

What are the most important things in your life? In addition to being a mother, what is it that makes you feel happy and fulfilled? It is ok for a mom to find fulfillment in activities outside the family. In fact, it’s important to engage in these types of activities. I suggest you start by doing a quick “free writing” exercise. Sit in a quiet space and just write for 5 -10 minutes about what is important to you. Write sentences, words, phrases, whatever comes to mind. As you review this list you will probably be able to group or combine some items into common themes. Finally, rank your priorities in order of importance. In addition to your baby’s well-being and your personal relationships, you will see a variety of things like creativity, personal fitness, financial fitness, spirituality, and faith. Whatever it is, it’s important to you. Therefore, it should be considered as you make life decisions.

Investigate options

Once you have clearly identified your income requirements and your priorities, you are well positioned to identify potential fits for you and your family.

Be certain to conduct research and seek the advice of both experienced working mothers and career counseling professionals.

You are fortunate that in the technological age in which we live, there are many resources available to you right at your fingertips. Begin with searches for the top careers for working moms, include the top companies as well. Do not limit your search to companies in your area. Many of today’s more progressive companies offer telecommuting or work from home positions. These positions range from customer service, sales, IT support, to consulting and freelance writing. You will find there are a surprising number of family friendly careers. Some may require additional training or education, while others do not.

Give some thought to your entrepreneurial side as well. What home-based businesses might suit your financial and personal needs? You can look for things like web design, social media management, or something more conventional such as interior design, in-home daycare, housekeeping, selling Mary Kay, personal shopping or even pet sitting. Think of the things you like to do. Starting a business doing something you are passionate about is a labor of love. And it has the added beauty of enabling you to work when it is most convenient for you.

As you begin to think about what is best for you and your family, I encourage you to think creatively and keep an open mind to the many possibilities available to you. These are also very personal choices. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek the advice of others. In fact, I highly recommend you do so. However, what works for one family or friend, may not work for you. And, don’t feel as though you need to keep up with the Jones’ or the super stay at home mom, or even the working mothers you know. Do what works for you.

Before you make a final decision, consult a professional – a life coach, a recruiter, or career counselor. It’s simply unwise to make a life changing decision such as this without the benefit and guidance of a professional.

Planning and Preparation

Regardless of whether you decide to look at alternative careers or return to your previous occupation, careful planning will facilitate your transition. Quality childcare is of course a high priority. There are a host of tips and strategies to apply here. Do your research and consult experienced working moms in your area. There are a number of options that you may find helpful. More and more companies offer on-site daycare. In some instances, privately managed daycares are conveniently located in office parks. You may find a home-based daycare located close to home, or you find an au-pair situation works best. Begin searching as early as possible. Good daycares generally have long waiting lists. Remember, fellow working moms will be one of your best resources.

It’s also wise to develop a “Plan B” for emergencies. Consider things such as childhood illnesses and unanticipated work travel. What support system do you have? What is the sick time policy is for the job you will be taking? If you do not have immediately family close by, mommy groups are a wonderful source of support and expertise.

If you will be breast feeding, you will need to find a private location on the job. It’s also critical to ensure you have an adequate supply stored up prior to your start date.

Finally, take a few practice “dry runs” prior to your first day. You don’t want to get off to a chaotic start on your first day. In preparation for this, I recommend you take steps to prepare for your child for the transition as well. These steps will differ depending on the age of the child. If you have a newborn, you may want to bring them to the daycare for a week or so for short periods of time. If you have an older child, you should do the same and explain what the new routine will be. In transitioning my daughter to this phase of our lives, I worked to make this exciting. I told her stories of how much fun she would have and socialized her to the group prior to the big first day. I also took her shopping for a stuffed animal to be her special friend at school. It’s so important to ensure your pre-work jitters are not passed along to your child. They are extremely sensitive to your moods and feelings.

Emotions

While preparation will ease the transition for you and your family, it does not fully address the emotions you will experience as you enter this new phase of your life. New working moms commonly feel a sense of loss and even guilt at this time. It’s important to realize this is normal and over time should ease. Keep in mind that you are serving as a role model to your child and setting a good example for them. It’s also helpful to understand that any changes you make do not have to be permanent. If your income is a must, consider work from home opportunities, part-time activities, or start your own business. Be creative in your problem solving and you will find something that works.

Always remember that working mothers are strong, capable, talented women. They not only set a great example for our children; they significantly contribute to the workforce and economic growth.