Tracy and I are excited to offer up our views as working mom’s for the second entry in our “How we do it series.” Being a great employee, wife and mom is very difficult, and flexibility can be a major factor in helping you achieve your desired “supermom” status. So here is how flexibility plays a role in our lives.
As I have mentioned before on CSP, I work a four day work week. But that wasn’t always the case. When I went back to work after my first, I went back full time. And it was hard at first, but I got back into a groove quickly. Then when Zoe was about 18 months old, Brent started traveling weekly and I again found it very difficult to keep everything together. I approached my boss with the idea of working four days a week. I came fully prepared to support this proposal. I assured him that my work would not suffer. My goal has been to make sure that this works for both my employer and myself.
My original intent of having my Friday’s off was to join my stay at home friends in playgroups and outings.. I quickly found that I was trying to do too much in one day. Instead, I have changed my approach to this day. I now plan one outing with the girls and just me, versus trying to coordinate with others. I work to get prepared for the weekend, so that when Saturday comes around, I can be wide open for my family and friends. I typically use my Fridays to run errands, go to dr. appointments, prepare for the weekend and get quality time with my girls.
It has been a wonderful situtation for me. I realize that everyone has different work situtations, but here some advice and realities for a reduced schedule at work:
I still work on my days off and evenings. I have remote access so I am able to be productive out of the office. I have fewer hours in the office, so I have less time to socialize. My priority is to be a productive as I can while I am in the office. Plan your time wisely and you can get it done. Don’t be hard on yourself; you can’t do it all, all of the time. Sometimes something has to give. I am amazed by the full-time moms who seem to have it all worked out. I know it can be done, but I have found that having one day off at work really works for me.
The decision to work is not an either work full time OR be a mom situation for me. It’s really important to find the right balance between having a fulfilling career as well as being the best mom I can be. Therefore I need to have a job that affords me the ability to also be a great mom. I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t miss out on any of those special moments because I had to work. I am very lucky to have found that kind of job – my boss is super supportive of anything I need to do during work hours that involves my son, whether it is enjoying lunch with him, volunteering at his school, taking him to the doctor, or working from home when I need to. I’m also able to enjoy the special activities that his school does specifically for the kids and parents like family picnics and social events or the performance of a class play. That is not to say I don’t make up my work at other times, like after Jake goes to bed, getting in to work early or working through lunch. Like I said – it’s a balancing act! It was also important for us to choose a daycare that is close to work so that we can easily pop over there during the day.
One tip of advice that I would recommend to working moms is this: Don’t be afraid to have a frank discussion with your boss on your needs and expectations as a working mom. This was really hard for me at first because I felt like I had more to prove coming back to work. I didn’t want to feel like anyone thought I was taking advantage of the situation. But the truth is, it wouldn’t be worth it for me to be in a job where I wasn’t happy and send my son to daycare. And if I knew upfront that my manager was not okay with it, then that becomes my decision if that is the right job for me and my family. So I felt much better having had the conversation with my boss and therefore knew where he stood on things and I wouldn’t have to feel as guilty for leaving early or ducking out for an hour. However – that’s certainly not to say that you don’t still have to get your job done and done well, otherwise you will risk being perceived as a slacker. I just think it’s possible to do both as long as you lay the appropriate ground work with your manager.
For the working mom’s out there, let us know how you strive for balance between a career and being mom. Thanks!
I was the first person in my office to have a child, so while they were great about my flex schedule, my co-workers were a little less enthusiastic about it. I had to do some educating to them (I work just as hard, but am focused on getting done on time b/c I HAVE to leave; I work evenings from home, I took a pay cut to shorten my work week, etc.) as well as to the bosses. Frankly, I totally understood where my peers were coming from and I tried to promote an air of “work/life” balance at the office, not just “work/family” balance. In other words, as long as everyone gets the job done, it should be no different for me to go watch my child’s school play than for my co-worker to go home to walk her dog or to leave early one day to make it to a gallery opening. None of it should happen every day and we should always try to schedule outside of work when we can, but it was actually helpful to me as a mom if everyone in the office was allowed some margin of freedom. I ended up getting much more respect and much less attitude about not being able to schedule a 4:30 meeting or whatever. Granted, if the meeting HAD to be at 4:30 I would make it work (I owe them that extra effort since I get the most flexibility), but most often a compromise can be found with just a smidge more effort from everyone. That smidge was hard to find in others until everyone felt a little more empowered over their time. So my advice for anyone considering flex scheduling…look at it as a good for the office, not a right you earn just by being a mom. That really helped me get the flexibility without ticking off my peers
To me, there are two key elements to making the balancing act work or at least make it a lot easier. 1. A manager and office environment that is supportive, flexible and is definitely not into “face time” and 2. A husband who shares in the housework, shopping, bathtime, etc. We talk a lot about work/life balance at the office, but I think its equally important on the homefront.
I have been going back and forth with cutting my hours from 40 to 30. It’s a tough call financially for our family because our 5 star daycare doesn’t offer part-time so I would still be paying the full time rate which is $250/week. I used to have my daughter at a 4 star facility (which did offer part time) but I was not happy with the curriculum and teachers. The working moms out there – when you did cut your hours were you able to pay less for childcare? I don’t have any grandparents or family close by. Any comments/suggestions would be appreciated!
I work 3, 8 hour days which seems to be a nice work/Mom balance. I use a home daycare which I love and make the most of our time together on my days home. We also do fun things like music class and gymnastics together!
When I worked a flex schedule I still had to pay full daycare rates although he was only going about 25-30 hours a week. When he was a baby I had him in half-days and worked from home half days. I had a sitter for that schedule so I just paid for what I used.
My 5 start day care does allow a part-time schedule so I lucked since I work from home 2-3 days per week.
I am a “part-time” structured finance/commercial real estate attorney. I put the “part-time” in quotes, because I don’t belive there is such a thing as “part-time” in any career (and if there is, please let know so I can considering changing mine!) The truth is, I didn’t give much thought about going back to work after the birth of my daughter – it was a given, as all my friends had done so why wouldn’t I? Boy, did I have a lot to learn! First, I realized that co-workers (and suprisingly, mostly female co-workers) became jealous of me leaving the office at 3 every day. So, the push to be “available” after my part-time hours became imperative if I wanted the rest of my working world to think I was still “dedicated” to my career. The thing is, while after 15 years of practicing law, I was still dedicated, my priorities changed the moment my daughter was born! She was my number one dedication and I wasn’t going to skimp in her department at all! I quickly realized that my job at that time, afforded me no flexibility (even though they “let me go” home at 3) – I was still working via laptop once I got home and therefore, wasn’t able to give my undivided attention to my daughter. So, life decisions were made. I decided if I was to remain in the workforce, daughter first, job second – and if that employer couldn’t understand the morality issue I was facing, that place was not the place for me! Fortunately, I have a wonderful position, where the folks I work for were just glad to have me and knew that my professionalism would afford them an employee that would get the job done (but in a fashion that fit into my balancing act, not a need for “face time”). I’ve been in my new position for a little over a year and it’s still a balancing act, but on my terms. The nice thing about being a little older is I think I’ve gained an appreciation of where all the things need to fit in my life from a priority standpoint and I don’t try to be more than I am. I am a mom and wife first, daughter and sister second, attorney third.