Being a career woman by day and a mom by night can frazzle the mightiest wonder woman. Yet according to the United States Department of Labor, 70% of women with kids under 18 work. It can seem daunting and the more women who step up to the plate, the more we need to evaluate how to be the best working mom. With all this being said it’s no wonder there are many questions that follow: How do we keep it up? Are there others out there? What is the best career for me?
Yup. It’s a lot. But we can try to answer these questions one at a time.
So how DO we keep up with a rigorous schedule?
It is important to never forget your health. Yes, that sounds way easier than it is. But it’s no joke. Elizabeth Banks attempts to deal with this issue in a famous skit geared towards women who are more often than not over stressed and ‘doing it all’ to the point of heart attack:
- Personal care: Make sure to schedule a doctor’s appointment every 6 months to help moderate stress
- Proper Nutrition: Take vitamins and take your diet seriously, not only ensure a healthy lifestyle, but to maximize your potential (and we are all about maximizing output these days)
- Smart choices: When running from meeting to meeting, snack on veggies and fruits, instead of say your 3rd Starbucks caramel macchiato
- Regular Exercise: It’s no secret most modern women don’t have a lot of extra time and the only marathons they run are chasing after their little ones. Kudos to the ones who can fit a total work out into their routines, but for many that isn’t feasible. To that end: exercise when you can- take the stairs, park in that further space so you have an extra minute of walking, take a walk with the kids in the evenings. A study published by Times found,
“More than 416,000 people completed questionnaires and were followed for an average of just over eight years. Compared to those who exercised at the lowest level (15 minutes per day), those who were sedentary had a 17% increased risk of dying.” (Is 15 Minutes A Day Enough?)
- Mental Health: Your psychological well-being is just as important as your physical health. I am sure you have heard the infamous non-mom well intenders saying, “take time for yourself”, to which every working mom rolls their eyes. You think, “Maybe, I would if I had time to take…” You are right. Yet the concept of “you time” doesn’t need to be in lieu of family time or work, it’s about making the most of the tid bits of time you can. For example, instead of playing another dreaded round of Barbie, try creating jewelry you and your child would both wear, as arts and crafts you enjoy is often therapeutic. While folding laundry, put on your favorite show and finally get to binge watch while still getting that pile done. To the opposite spectrum, when your feet are aching at work and you have a conference call, purchase a lavender stuffed pillow and rub your feet in it mid-work to give you some pampering while conferencing; multi-tasking at a new level.
How do others adapt?
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of being a working mom isn’t even connecting with others like you, it can also be trying to deal with others who are not. I will never forget a meeting I once had with a manager, a coworker and myself. My coworker was a night owl who liked coming in late and then burning the night oil- which he viewed as preferable. I, on the other hand was a single mom with a 4-year-old and an overpriced nanny, thus was out the minute I could be. My coworker had complained that he was doing more as he was staying later, and while I had already pointed out he always came in late, he persisted, “I get that you have the whole mommy thing going on, but I have my Picachu (his dog) who I also want to be home with. Yet when I need to work I need to work, I can’t just go running off.” I was flabbergasted. Luckily, my manager was a mother of 3 and his comment was dismissed quickly. Yet I was left shocked at how stupid and ignorant many people were regarding working mothers. This is why, as afore mentioned, creating that community can be a life line for any working mom.
- Leverage expertise: There are many recruiters who work to find careers for career women. Companies like JSG listen to your needs and tailor fit job searches that will allow you to make the most of your wonder woman roles. Then, once you have established yourself, you will most likely find many fellow wonder women in the break room, some are most likely also your bosses
- Network: Develop a network with other working moms is both empowering and helpful. Do not underestimate social media in your quest to find others. From groups to forums, there are places to find resources and to even vent when needed. You may even want to become a pioneer and create your own group if you are finding many in your areas like you.
What is the best career for me?
Only you can truly answer this. Yet there are some companies that are more understanding and helpful to working mothers than others. The site WorkingMothers.com recently compiled an entire article and survey about this subject,
“Using data gleaned from our Moms@Worksurvey, conducted in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies initiative, WMRI analyzed responses from 1,508 working moms in key areas such as pay, career stability and prospects, access to paid maternity leave and, of course, time for ourselves and our families.” (Best Industries for Working Moms)
The study found that the answer wasn’t so simple as what made a company good for a working mother varied mother to mother. Different women find different variables important: income, paid maternity leave, time-off, etc. Determining which area or job is best for you as a working mom requires you to first decide what field enables you to work around your needs the most.
In the end, what matters is that you can breathe when you go to bed at night. Peace of mind once your kids are in bed, no matter the hour or how much later you have to stay up to finish… is not something to be taken lightly. Thus when setting out to set sail on a new working mother job search, ensure to find recruiters who will be able to cater the job hunt to your needs.