This is the second part of a series of three special blog posts by Jo Kirchner on the challenges of working motherhood – be sure to check out Part 1 if you missed it!
It’s 7:25 a.m. and you’re running late for work. Your little one woke up with a sore throat this morning and you had to arrange for your mother-in-law to come over for a few hours while you wrap things up at work. We’ve all been there. One of the greatest challenges we face as working mothers is establishing appropriate boundaries between our work and our family. In fact, according to a LinkedIn survey from February of this year, when asked, “What does success at work mean to you?” most women answered, “finding the right balance between work and personal life.” For this reason, it is important for working mothers to seek out a family-friendly company—one that will let you work from home when your child is sick, or understands that you’re running a bit late because young children can be cranky and unpredictable early in the morning.
While we hate to use the ”mommy excuse” at work, sometimes it is unavoidable, and it’s comforting to be in a work environment that understands the needs of a working mother. Corporate America is doomed if it is willing to lose its best and brightest women to motherhood and the work/life balance; which is why there are companies out there who will support these women, and ultimately benefit from their dedication and hard work. No matter what, family always comes first, and if your company can’t accommodate something so necessary to your happiness and that of your children, it may be time to look elsewhere.
Another asset that every working mother can benefit from is a support network. Although there are some amazing women out there who handle their dual role with little outside help, I personally could not have managed working motherhood without the help of a back-up network of trusted relatives and friends who I could call upon to help during work emergencies. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and while this may not always be the case, it is certainly a comfort to know your child is being looked after by people who love her as much as you do. Time is the most valuable gift we can give our children, and as working mothers, we must manage our time strategically in order to maximize family time, without compromising our work.
If you’re a working mom, chances are you’re already a great time-manager, but I’d like to share some of my favorite tips, because different strategies work for different moms. Here are some time-management tips that I have found to be especially useful:
- Make time: Carve out a special time every day for your child, and let this be a work-free time—this means no answering e-mails or work calls. Establish bonding rituals, like reading before bedtime, or going for a walk in the evenings after dinner. Find a way to stay connected when you’re traveling, whether that means bringing your iPad to video chat during that special time, calling to say goodnight, or leaving a sweet note for the babysitter to read to your little one before bed. If you make that time a priority, work will not get in the way of those important family routines.
- Save time: Time is our most valuable non-renewable resource, so we need to save every last bit of it and avoid wasting it on trivial activities! There are many smartphone apps out there that working moms use to make sure they spend that precious time on what’s most important to them.
- Organize your time: Keep your calendar organized so you can adjust your schedule when you need to. I keep a planner with all of my business commitments and deadlines, and this is the best place for me to schedule milestones, like the first day of school, classroom events, teacher work days, etc. Once you figure out a system that works for you, you can work around these important events by putting in work time on weekends or later in the night when your children are asleep.
To those of you who are new to working motherhood, these skills may take some time to master, and ultimately you have to find the techniques that work best for you, but I know you can do it! You can be a wonderful mother and a valuable asset to your company without sacrificing who you are and what you’re passionate about.
For more thoughts and inspiration on being a working mom, you can check out my first post in this series. My final post, Giving Back, will discuss how being a working mother makes you a role model for your children and others.
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