There’s a lot of talk about how working moms are struggling to find more balance now that they are caring for their children and careers at the same time. But what isn't discussed as often is how a mom can actually change the way she works.
We talked to several working moms across the country about just that. From finding ways to be more efficient with their time and being more present at both home and work, to realizing they need more meaningful challenges, here’s what they had to say.
“I wasted a lot of time”
You learn to immediately cut out non-essential tasks and become more efficient and focused. At work, being a working mom has taught me that I wasted a lot of time before, and I worried about office drama too much. I'm more organized at home and at work because I have to be! Being a working mom has also taught me about being present, no matter where I am. If I'm at home, I'm on Georgia (my daughter’s) time, and whoever I'm with or whatever I'm working on gets my undivided attention. It's actually liberating! -- Amanda Linehan, director of communications for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Boston, MA.
“You've got to realize you need help”
For me, it helped me to ask for help -- from nannies, from college kids, from high-schoolers who drive, from soccer moms at carpool. When I was a scout leader, I'd schedule meetings and activities on the weekends so I could contribute back to all of the families who helped me during the week. When you're working, you've got to realize you need help, especially without family nearby. -- Liz Moore, director of communications at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, West Caldwell, NJ.
“I didn’t realize how inefficient I had been with my time”
It's all about efficiency for me. Before we had our son, I didn't realize how inefficient I had been with my time at work. Socializing and getting to know people at work is important, but there is a point where you have to hunker down and get something done. As a working parent, I am much more efficient and focused at work and at home. -- Amy Kovac-Ashley, visiting assistant professor for West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media and managing director for the media innovation center, currently living part-time in Morgantown, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
“I wanted to do things that mattered”
Becoming a parent absolutely changed the the way I worked and sometimes in surprising ways. For one, I'm sure I'm more strategic than I was in my childless 20s. Back then, I made a lot of decisions that would maximize my own personal career path. I know that sounds selfish, but it's a time of rapid skill-acquisition, right? That's the time you can be looking out for Number One. Post-children, though, I was eager to take on more meaningful challenges and think big picture. I wanted to do things that mattered. That, and finding out the hard way just how challenging it is to raise kids today. It's hard out there and every company needs people who get this -- true consumer empathy is a competitive edge. -- Katie Ryan O'Connor, a content strategy director for a media marketing firm in Foster City, CA
“It makes me much more loyal to my company”
It's made me very particular in choosing where I work. Some places tout family-friendly atmospheres, however, it's common for people in our company to work from home due to child care/health needs. Twice in the 16 months that I've worked here, I've had to drop everything and leave due to kid-specific needs. From the moment I got word, to the few minutes later when I was out the door -- I've been supported by both of my bosses. It makes all the difference to be able to go home, take care of my family and then when things are settled, be able to pop back on and close out the day. It makes me much more loyal to my company. So if I were to consider another job, I'd want to ensure I still have that same flexibility to be a mom. -- Jayna Dinsmore, account manager, Boston-based marketing company 89Degrees
“I wasn’t passionate enough to justify being away from my newborn”
When I became a mom, I quickly discovered that I needed to get my priorities straight. Babies are a 24/7 gig, so I wasn't able to do everything I could do before. This forced me to consider the questions, "What makes me feel most fulfilled in life? How do I want to spend my time?" In the end, I found that my job wasn't as satisfying as it had seemed before -- I wasn't passionate enough about it to justify being away from my newborn. I ended up cutting down my hours, trimming my personal budget to accommodate the decrease in income, and eventually making a career change entirely, chasing my dream to be my a writer. All of these steps were major leaps, but they landed me in a place that feels liberating, authentic, and true. -- Carrie Visintainer, author of WILD MAMA, Fort Collins, CO
“I learned how important it was to love my work”
Being a mom and having a career simultaneously has propelled my career in every way. I know that probably sounds counter-intuitive, but for me it's true. I had my beautiful daughter when I was only 23, so it's really all I know to do both. I learned early on to make the most of every minute both at home with my babies and at work. I learned how important it was to love my work so my children could have an example of professional happiness. As I became a leader, I knew how important it was to support the people on the team both personally and professionally, and I hope that support helped them be more successful in every sector. And most of all, I was motivated every day to succeed to give my babies a better life. Their presence made me a better person in every way, including professionally. -- Tara Tesimu, SVP of Media Products & Audience Development at Winsight Media, Chicago, IL
“I've started to focus more on people”
I almost instantly became more effective. The two hours after work are now family time, so I'm more efficient at the office so I don't have to bring work home as much. I'm also more patient. I've started to focus more on people and how they work or learn most effectively. By no means am I comparing my team to a team of 4-year-olds, but sometimes facing deadlines isn't all that different than getting a child out of the house on time. Planning, preparation, communication, support, reinforcement. -- Sherry Skalko, director of audience and digital development for a business-to-business news organization, Chicago, IL