Years ago, I gave a keynote address for NY Mom’s World in Westchester, New York entitled “Five Ways to Master the Mommy Track” to promote my book for working mothers. I thought the pointers were worth sharing as a blog post. Here are the points, edited to be applicable to 2017:
- Don’t overstress yourself when times are tough. Many women nationwide are afraid of losing their job or struggling to find work and concerned about their family’s financial situation. Career moms should realize that millions of others are experiencing the same feelings. The events happening today – job loss or an uncertain work status — will turn around in the future.
- Don’t be so preoccupied with work or your career that you miss out on quality time with your kids. Ditch the smart phone for an hour or two each weekday so you can play with your kids or read to them. Limit the amount of TV they watch, and strive for quality interactions. Make the weekends extra special—take them on family outings to local parks, museums or excursions. Ask them what is going on at school, and they will tell you. Evaluate their current daycare or preschool program to make sure it’s the best fit for them.
- To avoid burnout, women can communicate their needs to others by letting their spouse or partner and family members know what they need. This could be asking that groceries be purchased and put away, dinner be started, toys picked up, laundry folded, and so forth. Instead of reacting to unmet needs, moms can be proactive by expressing their needs from the start. When their needs are met, there is less exasperation. If other family members are local, ask them if they have time to assist, perhaps via school drop-offs or pick-ups and babysitting as needed.
- How can mothers can take their careers to the next level–even with active home lives? Flex time is paramount so moms can be part of their kids’ activities. Women can ask their current employer for a change in their schedule–whether that be the option of telecommuting, working flexible hours, working a compressed workweek, or going part-time. They can build a solid case for changing their schedule and see if their boss will allow some flexibility. If not, then perhaps it’s time to find a job that allows flexible work options.
- Career moms need to share family and home obligations with their partner or spouse. Women have made great strides toward equality in the workplace, but not at home. Household chores largely fall on the mothers’ shoulders–but these tasks and parenting responsibilities should be divided equally. Women will never have time for themselves until they can achieve this balance at home. Women should schedule their free time in advance otherwise it might not happen. It requires planning and cooperation with their spouse or partner. Each person’s free time can be scheduled and agreed on–and both must commit to making it happen.