Survey Says… They’d Work Even If They Didn’t Have To

A recent study by Karen Christopher, an associate professor of Women’s/Gender Studies and Sociology at the University of Louisville, showed that the working women who were surveyed would work even if they didn’t have to.

I’d be interested to hear from other working moms to see if they agree with the study’s findings.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-01/sfwi-wml012312.php

Take a look at the summary of the study and weigh in.

Grandma Was Workin’ It – 80+ year old working woman reflects

working motherThis weekend my son and I went to visit my grandparents – Richard and Liz (aka Paw Paw Richard and Maw Maw Bebo) – in Lake Charles,  Louisiana.  They had celebrated their 85th (Richard) and 82nd (Liz) birthdays earlier in the week and it was wonderful to spend some quality time with them.

I had some good chats with my grandmother and I shared about the blog and how I’m hoping to support moms who are struggling with the juggle of work and home.   I can’t ever remember my grandmother not working.  As a matter of fact she takes pride in the fact that she still maintains a separate “business  account” for the sewing she does for family and friends.  I asked her about her experiences as a working mother and here’s how the general conversation went.

Me:  So Maw Maw, was it hard for you to work and also have four kids at home?

Liz:  It was a lot to manage but back then we had help at home and we had wonderful women who would come to the house to be with the kids and keep the house in order.

Read moreGrandma Was Workin’ It – 80+ year old working woman reflects

Are You Experienced? Weigh in on your maternity leave journey

Hey working moms.  Yeah, you.  I’m really interested to hear about your experiences before, during, and after your maternity leave.  I’ve set up a survey just for you.  Visit and tell me as little or as much as you’d like.

http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22E8V7VDB5S

Thanks for your support!

 

When Your Boss Won’t Flex…Find Someone Who Will

flexible work balanceI’ve heard countless stories of women, who when faced with the prospect of starting a family, became overcome with fear that having a baby would ruin their careers.  Not doubt, you too know of a family member or friend who stalled out at work because they were struggling with the juggle between work and home.  You may even know some employees who, even when knocking it out of the park with work performance, couldn’t move forward in their company because of their manager’s antiquated views of work life balance.

We are so lucky to be in today’s mom/work world.  Although there are great strides yet to be taken in terms of policies, benefits and treatment of women workers, there are new options out there that can give you hope.  One example of a innovative outlet for those seeking more workplace flexibility is Mom Corps.

Read moreWhen Your Boss Won’t Flex…Find Someone Who Will

Poor Performer Because I’m Pregnant? What Your Boss Really Thinks

I’ve talked to a few women who fear that their pregnancy or new mother status will reflect poorly on their manager’s and coworkers’ views of their performance.  In general I see it coming up as a concern when a women perceives that people are treating her differently because she’s pregnant or is a new mom.

Although there are thousands of scenarios, this difference of treatment can usually be traced back to a few root causes:

  • Most frequently I see that managers and co-workers are concerned about offending the new mom and they get weirded out and act strange.  Sometime they walk on eggshells and keep their distance so they don’t say the wrong thing.  In particular I’ve seen that men who work with pregnant women can be unsure of what they can say.  To the new mom, this can come off as being excluded, shut out or even shunned.  I recommend that if the new mom feels comfortable, that she just break the ice and  help everyone she works with ease into this transition.  You’ll get it all out in the open and know for sure where you stand.
  • The managers and co-workers are jerks and really are treating her differently because she’s pregnant or a new mom.  Unfortunately this does happen but I wouldn’t jump to it as the first conclusion.   If you are comfortable, speak with your manager about the situation.  If that’s not an option, speaking confidentially with HR can help sort things out.
  • Sometimes the mother’s performance really has dipped because of the physical and mental demands on her.  Most managers are understanding of this temporary situation.  Initiate the conversation and you may find that there are opportunities to adjust your workload or schedule to help during this time.
  • And finally, there are some mothers who have checked out and unfortunately used the excuse of  “I’m pregnant” or “I’m a new mom” to let their performance slide.  These few moms may have ruined it for the rest of us and you want to be sure that you aren’t inadvertently becoming one of  “those employees”.  Ask a trusted co-worker for feedback on your performance.  Meet frequently with your manager for status updates and to get a clear understanding of their expectations and whether or not you’re meeting them.
You may find yourself in a situation where you feel like you’re being treated differently.  Think through your situation, talk it over with non-biased third parties and then determine what you want to do about it.
If you’ve been in this spot and have some words of wisdom, I’d love to hear from you.

 

First Business Trip Away from Baby – A Tale from the Road

Before having a baby, I must admit that I liked traveling for work.  I got to stay in nice hotels, eat in fancy restaurants, ride in town cars like a celebrity and could stay up as late as I wanted.  My husband and I both traveled from time to time and we both enjoyed the change of scenery while we were away from home.  I even took a trip when I was big and pregnant and felt no shame in using both the spa facilities and the pillow concierge at The Benjamin when I was in New York.  (They really do have a pillow concierge – here’s their pillow menu http://www.thebenjamin.com/PillowMenu.aspx)

But then, here comes this bundle of perfection who is dependent on me for his every need.  Not only has it been difficult leaving him for the day while I’m at work but I can only imagine it will be torture to be almost 1000 miles away!  Going cold turkey would have been unbearable so I am so glad that my husband and I had already traveled without little one.  We are blessed to have grandparents within driving distance who are retired and can keep him for extended periods.  We had been to Hawaii when our son was 12 months old so surely leaving him again for just a few days wouldn’t be a problem?!? WRONG!

Read moreFirst Business Trip Away from Baby – A Tale from the Road

First Day Back to Work – Tips to Reduce How Much It Will Suck – Part 2

I’m sure you were on pins and needles thinking “When is she going to post Part 2?”  Wait for it…. Ok, now.

Let’s pick up where we left off in Part 1.  Read it here http://is.gd/gwXGL1

Thank heavens for smart phones.   I’d recommend that you consolidate your work and home calendars if possible.   Seeing it all on your phone just makes things that much easier.  My husband and I even share one family calendar that we can both see and update through our family Yahoo! e-mail.  Merge your contacts too.  Merging contacts and calendars on your smart phone may be a little tricky if it’s paid for by your company and is really their property, not yours so check that out first.

Read moreFirst Day Back to Work – Tips to Reduce How Much It Will Suck – Part 2

First Day Back to Work – Tips to Reduce How Much It Will Suck – Part 1

Here’s another two-parter.  I’m trying to keep these short because as a mom, you probably have very limited time to read AND if you’re like me, you have the attention span of a gnat.

I’m not going to lie to you.  Your first day back to work from maternity leave is not going to be a super awesome experience.  However, you have to bite the bullet and go back at some point so what can you do to make it a little less horrible?

  1. Try it out first.  Hopefully you’ve already got child care set up.  It’s a good idea to have your child ease into it by beginning them to their caregiver a few days before your leave ends.  Most kids will not be so happy that you’re leaving them there.  If you talk to any caregiver they’ll tell you – your baby will eventually stop crying and you lingering around and prolonging the drama doesn’t help much.  You’ll feel like a jerk either way so just leave!  If you do a trial run, you’ll get some of this emotion out before you have to show up to the office.  Also, having your child at childcare for a few hours will help you get ready for work:  get a haircut, shop whatever clothes you need, etc.  Let me remind you once again… first time leaving the baby will stink, but, I’ve yet to hear my son say to me, “Mom, remember when I was a baby and you ruined my life by leaving me with a really nice lady and a bunch of fun baby friends?”

    Read moreFirst Day Back to Work – Tips to Reduce How Much It Will Suck – Part 1

Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You – Checking In with Work While You’re On Leave

You’re not alone if you’re thinking that being away from the office during your maternity leave will impact your job.  Quite a few women are so closely tied with their work that they can’t imagine being out of the hustle and bustle while they are home with their newborns.  Thinking that they’ll be able to juggle it all they sometimes commit to a lot more contact with work than they end up wanting.

That said, it’s a good idea to keep expectations low regarding how you’ll be checking in with the office.  Don’t make commitments about calling in every day or answering emails because you just don’t know how life will be until after the baby arrives.  Make sure that your level of communication doesn’t hook you into working on projects, working directly with clients or promising to deliver the results at the annual shareholder meeting. 

Read moreDon’t Call Me, I’ll Call You – Checking In with Work While You’re On Leave

“Those Moms” and their pants

I had a great chat earlier this week with a close friend who is having her first baby in two months. I love a good hormone fueled conversation so this one was great! In frustration and with guilt she proclaimed, “I’m just not cut out to be one of those trendy stay at home moms who wears yoga pants everywhere and runs marathons! I also don’t want to wear pink kitty cat sweatshirts and mom jeans! Am I wrong to want to go back to work after I’ve bonded with my baby and just be me?!?!”.

Read more“Those Moms” and their pants

Daycare Drama

Luckily for us my back-to-work childcare situation was a breeze.   For the first 8 weeks back, he stayed right across from my office building in an amazing company-run childcare center.  Even though he was just a blob of a 3 month old, he did arts and crafts and had story time.  They were wonderful!

Then, he went on to stay with a mom from church, her son and our friends’ little girl.  It was so cozy and loving.  We had to transition to a new arrangement and from heaven dropped in my sister who was wonderful with our son and I could never thank her enough for the care she gave to him.  So, with childcare we went from great, greater to greatest!  We were living the parenting dream!

It’s inevitable that you wake up from dreams (or you don’t and that’s not a good thing either) and reality kicks in.  Mine was the first day my son was in “daycare”.  I say “daycare” because for parents there are subtle ways we communicate how good of parents we are by the way we describe where they are while we’re at work.   Nannies and sitters mean you fork over the money for them to stay at home.  The higher echelons of parenting send their kids to Montessori or an academy.  There’s mothers’ day out and nursery.  When your kid is a toddler they can go to pre-school.  But, you rarely see a parent standing up and saying with pride “I dropped off my kid at DAYCARE this morning!”  I don’t know what it is but it just feels icky.

Read moreDaycare Drama

Supermoms Need a Rescue

Everyone’s talking about this study about “supermoms” and I couldn’t help adding a few thoughts too.  http://www.livescience.com/15663-supermom-depression.html  Good news for me is that I wholeheartedly agree with the researcher Katrina Leupp and her findings line up exactly with my experiences.  Here’s a bit of what she had to say.

Women who expect to have it all probably come up against workplaces that aren’t designed with work-life balance in mind, she said. When they can’t balance everything perfectly, these supermoms are more likely to feel frustration and guilt.

I’d like to expand this to stay at home supermoms too.  I know a few who are extreme Type As and have high expectations for their home life based upon their success in the business world.  I even had one friend who was measuring her baby’s poop to make sure it was within acceptable ranges.  I don’t need to survey 1600 women  to know that once you’ve started sticking a tape measure in dirty diapers, it’s gone too far.

So, I say to all moms out there, “If you are loving your child, feeding them, providing shelter, growing them to be strong in character and hugging them as much as you can – you’re all the supermom they’ll ever need.”  When the balls you’re juggling fall on the floor and the hats on your head topple over, just look at a few family photos and soak up what you’ve really accomplished.

First Visit to the Lactation Room

First, let me be clear that I have a deep felt gratitude for all those corporate Lactation Rooms out there.   They’re just funny so I’ll share my first experience with one.

I remember that before I left for my maternity leave that I was given the code to the door of our Lactation Room.  I felt like I was in a secret society of fabulous mothers who were perfectly balancing work and life by providing sustenance to their newborns by bringing home the bacon (and the milk).  Nursing was stressful for me and luckily during my time at home with the baby I had mastered the machine and thought I was fully prepped for day one back at work.  Boy was I wrong?!

Read moreFirst Visit to the Lactation Room