Tips on Balancing Career With Motherhood
If you're a working mom, or hope to be one someday, you've probably imagined some ideal scenario for how you would juggle career and motherhood while making it look easy—and while making sure your neither your home nor your work life skips a beat.
At the same time, chances are, you realize how unrealistic (and, most likely, impossible) this ideal really is. We recently told you about a study that found working women who try to be “supermom” are more prone to depression. But there are also statistics indicating that working women are likely to suffer a career hit if they have kids. In this article, personal finance expert Jean Chatzky cites data that shows skilled women who have children will lose an average of at least $230,000 in lifetime wages.
Studies and specific dollar figures aside, most working mothers can attest that it's tough to avoid some bumps in your career path when combining motherhood with a career. This is partly due simply to the interruption that comes with literally having a baby—it's virtually impossible to give birth and care for a newborn without taking at least a minimal amount of time off from work. Then, of course, there are the conflicts and scheduling issues a working mother inevitably faces as her child or children get older. Many working women find themselves relegated to the "mommy track" once they have kids, with fewer opportunities for advancement. Still others force themselves to work harder to prove to bosses and colleagues that they can still do their jobs and retain some forward momentum in their careers.
You may not be able to completely avoid some kind of motherhood penalty, but there are some things you can do to at least lessen the impact on your career (and your paycheck):
First, look for companies known to be friendly toward working moms (hint: if high-level executives are women with kids, it's a better sign than if the entire executive team is male).
Second, seek work arrangements that lend themselves to work-life balance, such as telecommuting or flextime situations.
Third, you should also keep both your skills and connections strong during maternity leaves and other time away from work. That might mean taking a few classes or workshops while you're on leave (many are now offered onlline and on-demand, meaning you can fit them in between midnight feedings, etc.).
Finally, make sure to maintain professional contacts and continue to nurture and build your professional network even if you aren’t actively in the office at that time.
Has your career suffered due to motherhood? How have you managed this? Let us know in the comments.
Image courtesy of jessicafm