More moms than ever are in the workforce.
"women now make up half of all workers in the United States, with nearly 4 in 10 homes having a mom that is also a working mother." Being a full-time working mother can lead to feelings of guilt and stress because of divided attention between work and family. The key is to focus on a plan, get organized, and find the right balance between profession and parenthood. Here are 10 ways to help make sure both your career and your family flourish.
1 - Let Go of the Guilt
Rather than dwell on how you're not with your child, think about how your role in the company is benefitting the family. Perhaps you can afford certain classes or educational opportunities for your children or you're able to put away savings for college. "The most successful career moms have found ways to be efficient in both worlds—and that requires being able to come to terms with choices and focus on the priorities that are in the moment," says Lisa Pierson Weinberger, a lawyer and the founder of the law practice Mom, Esq. Accept that there will be good and bad days. Mothers should know they are not alone and they should discuss their feelings with partners or support groups. Local mom blogs, such as Working Moms Against Guilt, are a great way to reach out to others trying to find the same work-home balance.
2 - Find Quality child care
Ask your network of friends and family for references to nannies, babysitters, and daycare centers. Create a list of criteria that are important and then schedule time to interview qualified childcare providers or to tour local daycares. Sharon Tepper, the president of , recommends hiring nannies with a history of long-term commitments to families. This shows they have excellent experience and are adaptable to various age groups, caring for newborns and older children who need homework help. Tepper also encourages families to schedule a paid playdate with the candidates, because "this playdate (typically two to four hours) allows the family to evaluate how the nanny interacts with the child in a less formal setting." A good childcare provider should have extensive experience, excellent references, and a record to prove it. A good daycare facility should have flexible hours, a low teacher-to-student ratio, outdoor space, up-to-date licenses, and employees who have had their backgrounds checked.
3 - Make the Mornings Easier
Avoid starting the day on a frazzled note by . Pack the kids' lunches, lay out their clothes (plus your own), and have everyone shower. "You should also decide what to make for breakfast, and repack the diaper bag, backpacks, purses, or work bags to be placed by the door, right next to your keys, so you can grab them and lock up on your way out," suggests Amanda Wiss, the founder of , a Brooklyn-based organizing service. Look over the next day's to-do list and divide the schedule, determining which parent gets the kids dressed, buys necessary groceries, and cooks the meals. This is also a good time to discuss any changes to the family schedule. Knowing that a lot of the mundane tasks are completed will allow you to spend a few minutes eating breakfast with the kids without rushing out of the house.
4 - Create and organize a Family calendar
Figure out your family's priorities. A calendar can include dates when bills are due, , a list of school and family events, extracurricular activities, birthdays, and more. Wiss suggests using Google calendars, which can be easily shared and synced on smartphones, because "they are color-coded and get superimposed on each other, so you can always be on top of scheduling challenges." Fran Durekas, Founder and Chief Development Officer for , suggests "setting aside 15 minutes each Sunday to review and prepare for the upcoming week's schedule. This helps eliminate surprises during the week. Families should share the calendar with their babysitter or nanny so that everyone is up-to-date on activities." Staying organized is also about having a clean environment. Wiss advises having a "family command station" near an entranceway, where important papers and documents are placed, along with keys, chargers, batteries and petty cash. Carving out dedicated spots will save time and improve efficiency in your home.
5 - Communicate with your Employer
Before talking to your employer or HR representative, construct a written plan detailing what you need. Weinberger suggests "researching whether other employees have flexible arrangements and using this information to your advantage... This information will help tailor your proposal to the terms that your employer has already embraced with your coworkers." Every employer is different, and only you will know how much to share, but try to be as open and honest as possible. Be prepared to present alternative solutions, such as a trial period of your projected work schedule so you can show how the arrangement won't restrict productivity. should ask questions when speaking with a supervisor. The two biggest questions to ask are "How much time can I take off?" and "How much of that time will be paid?" Discuss using short-term disability or vacation/sick time to cover some of your time away from the office. Weinberger adds, "It's best to know those answers to avoid any confusion during your leave."