I’ve always been pretty outgoing. I’ve made friends relatively easily, and I have a large and diverse set of interests that makes it easy for me to connect with many different types of people. However, as a post-higher education adult, I have mentioned on many occasions how difficult it is to make new friends when you’re not forced into a college classroom, a sorority house, or a weekly Friday house party. But friendships are so essential to good mental health, so it’s important to go out there and forge new relationships. The problem with making friends as adults is that everyone’s schedules are vastly different. And when you work full-time, it’s exacerbated because you have so little free time to begin with. But it’s not impossible. I’m fortunate that my closest friends have been in my life since high school or even earlier, but I’ve made some truly awesome friendships even post-kids. Read on for a few tips for creating meaningful friendships even in the crazy life of a working parent.
Tag: Working Mom (Page 1 of 2)
Meet one of my best friends, Julie. I met her the day after I moved to Sacramento for law school. We were on our way to an overnight whitewater rafting “bonding” trip with all the new students, and she looked nice enough, so I asked her if I could sit in the empty seat on the bus next to her. We rafted, shared a tent, and got to know each other. And we basically never left each other’s side through the rest of law school. She’s brilliant, hard-working, and she’s one of those moms who always lends a nonjudgmental ear and provides just the right balance of experience-based advice. So as you can imagine, I was thrilled when she agreed to let me kick off my new series of working mom interviews with her. Read on for some of that excellent experience-based advice.
Give me the elevator speech on what you do.
Professionally, I am an attorney for the State [of California]. Specifically, I work for the division that regulates financial institutions (banks, credit unions, money transmitters, etc.). Personally, I’m mom to a five-year-old, two-year-old, and a lab, and I have been married to my husband for eight and a half years.
How has your career changed, if at all, since having kids?
My priorities regarding my career definitely changed. Planning for, and having, kids helped to put into perspective how important it is to have a job that you actually enjoy and coworkers that you like being around 40+ hours a week. I had jobs where one or both of these things weren’t true and I would bring home my dissatisfaction (and sometimes anger). That wasn’t fair to myself or my family. Now, I’m in a position where I enjoy being at work, the people I work with, and I (generally) come home in a good mood!
What has been your greatest career accomplishment?
Related to the previous question, finding my current job has likely been my great accomplishment. When I went into law school, I wanted to be a corporate transactional attorney. But it’s hard to find a job in that field that will also allow you to have regular hours and a sense of work-life balance. Prior to this, I had a job that gave me a lot of flexibility, but it wasn’t the type of work I wanted to be doing. I wasn’t challenged and it was pretty far from corporate transactional work. But I was good at it and could be there for my family whenever I needed. In other words, I was comfortable, but not necessarily happy. I realized that I needed a challenge and to feel like I was actually making a difference in my work. A posting for my current position came up and I jumped at the opportunity. It was a new practice area so I knew the transition would be hard, but it was the right move.
What do you find to be the hardest thing about juggling career and motherhood?
Mommy guilt. It’s almost completely self-imposed. But, man, that guilt can take a toll, especially when your five-year-old is asking why you can’t come in to class at least once a week like so-and-so’s mommy. I have to remind myself and my kids that I have a job other than raising them and that it is an important job that I am proud to have.
How do you and your spouse divide the household/parenting responsibilities?
I work a 9/8/80 schedule where I have every other Friday off. To make that happen, I leave the house by 6:00 am so I can leave work at 4:00 pm and pick up the kids on time. My husband is in charge of mornings. He is generally responsible for everything associated with the kids’ drop-off, including getting breakfasts and lunches together, making sure the kids look semi-put together, and getting out the door early enough for him to drop them off and be at work 30 minutes away by 8:00 am. Our kids are super-early risers so I can usually start getting at least one of the kids ready before I leave. (I just started making freeze-ahead lunches like tortilla roll ups and nut-free butter and jelly sandwiches to take some of the load off of my husband. So far those have worked out well!)
I am in charge of dinner for most of the week. On Sundays, I try to make enough food for at least two or three days. I can usually get something together within 30 minutes for the other days. That is usually about the time my husband gets home. My husband is in charge of figuring out Friday dinners because, by the end of the week, I just don’t want to think about it anymore.
Deep cleans happen on my Fridays off. The day-to-day cleaning is mostly my area of responsibility, only because of my control issues over how I want things cleaned, not because my husband isn’t willing! (But he’s in charge of cleaning up after our dog in the backyard!)
I really feel like we evenly split our parenting responsibilities. Our strengths/weaknesses generally complement each other in this area. Our kids’ personalities are very similar to ours’ (my son is like my husband, and my daughter is like me) so those differences can be beneficial. For example, I tend to butt heads with my son in certain situations where my husband will be more calm and can communicate with him more effectively.
We are both attorneys. We both take our jobs very seriously and do everything we can to encourage each other’s professional endeavors, so that means picking up the slack when the other needs to prioritize work. For example, when I started my current job, I needed to travel for training and my husband didn’t hesitate to do pick up, drop off, dinner, and bedtime. Last year, he even had to take the kids trick-or-treating alone because I was stuck at a three-day training in San Francisco!
If you could do anything differently in terms of being a working mom, what would it be?
I would be more patient with my kids. They are not the reason that I am up before 5:00 am and only home by 5:30 pm. That’s just part of my decision to be a working mom. But, because I’m exhausted, I’m also short-tempered and impatient and I end up becoming really frustrated with them when they aren’t just listening to me the first time I ask them to do something or when they seem bewildered by the fact that they need to put on pajamas and brush their teeth before bed. I have to remember that they’ve had long days too and that they’re just doing what most kids are doing. (“Why are you acting like a five-year-old?! Oh wait…”)
Do you have any advice you would share with other working parents?
We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise kids. But it’s hard to find your village, especially if you don’t have family nearby. Make a concerted effort to find it, though. It can make a huge difference in your life. Your kids will have a constant non-family presence in their life, and you will have a non-judgmental ear to bend when you need to vent, brag, or get advice.
Also, get a babysitter. Not a family member, either; just a regular babysitter that you trust in your home and with your kids. It took us over five years to do this and my only regret is not doing it sooner.
Finally, take time for yourself and allow your spouse to do the same. We’ve been encouraging each other to go for nights out or weekends away with friends, to go work out, or just to pamper ourselves outside of the house. It’s hard not to feel guilty about being away from your spouse/kids any more than our full-time jobs already require but I think that time away lets me reset and I’m a more patient, attentive mom because of it.
Have you ever come across your dream job on LinkedIn or been chatting with an acquaintance who offers to connect you with an executive at a company you’d kill to work for only to realize you haven’t updated your resume in about five years? Trying to update a resume in a short time is a recipe for disaster. The likelihood that it will be sloppy and include typos is high, and you’re sure to forget major projects or milestones when you’re under the gun. Don’t get caught empty-handed when an opportunity arises. You should spend at least 30 minutes once per quarter updating your resume. Spend a little time on these areas to ensure you’re not missing any important pieces when the time comes to send your resume for a potential opportunity.
Any working professional, parent, or adult can tell you they have a lot going on. Life is busy and we move quickly. Working parents, in particular, are in a constant state of context switching between professional, parental, and household responsibilities, and it creates serious overload. It sure helps to have a supportive partner, but there is plenty of research that suggests women take on a lot of the “noticing” about all the little to-dos and it can be overwhelming. I tried to explain it to my husband once, and all he heard was that he’s not pulling his weight (which he is), so it was very reassuring when I came across this article a few months ago.
But what’s a working mom to do when you just can’t shut off the noise? And even if you could, what about all those to-dos that still need to be done? Below are some tips for managing (and coping) with the working mom overload.
I have a special hatred for making lunches. It’s hard enough for me to get anything made for my kids, let alone for me to make something to bring to work. I’m a special case because not only do I dislike cooking/food prepping, but I also can’t stand the idea of eating the same thing three days in a row or prepping the same meal every other week. My sister is a pro at this. She basically has a rotating menu of about five go-to meals, and that works for their family. But if I made chili two weeks ago and ate it for lunch and dinner three days in a row, I’m not making chili again for two months.
I set out to do this challenge to save money, eat healthier, and prove to my stubborn self that I can find a way to inject variety into my meals even when I’m not eating out at restaurants. So how did it go? Well, it was a mixed result.
You know what feels like a crazy idea? Moving into a non-legal career after spending five years as a lawyer and almost $200,000 on law school. But I did just that. It was scary, exciting, and filled with the thing I hate the most–the unknown–but I came out the other side with a job I love and a new career track that felt right for me. 30 might seem young to some, but after seven years in higher education, it felt like a huge step backward in my career. In hindsight, it was more of a side step, but it was the best move I could have made. Below is a rundown of the dirty details of my career change.
I’m totally late to the podcast game. My husband has spent years mentioning different podcasts he was listening to, and I just didn’t have an interest. But one day, while driving to work, I was listening to some morning radio and realized what complete trash it was–both the talk and the music. Although I’m sure I could have found a better station, I decided that I’d look for some podcasts instead. I picked up a few based on some quick internet searches at work, and I’ve added to my queue mostly through recommendations.
I listen to podcasts on my way into work (less so on the way home since I have the kids in the car), at the gym, while doing dishes, folding laundry. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in interesting and relevant topics when you can’t necessarily sit down and read a book or article. I listen to mine on the pre-loaded podcast app on my iPhone, but my husband prefers Overcast.
Once upon a time, in a far away land, a mother was lounging by the pool, the summer’s hottest book in one hand and a margarita in the other. After a quick dip to cool off, she stretched out on her chaise, tipped her wide-brimmed hat over her eyes and drifted into a long, relaxing afternoon nap.
Of course, this is only a fantasy, since any mother knows this type of relaxation simply doesn’t exist in reality. Still, even the busiest parent is often met with a small period of time where the stars align and the kids nap at the same time, or a compassionate spouse, parent, or friend gives you an afternoon off. For those fleeting moments, from the pre-planned to the spontaneous, here are some ideas for self-care so you don’t use that time to fold the laundry.
Parenting is tough. Navigating a career is challenging. Keeping up with the curated lives on social media is exhausting. Making others feel loved, appreciated, and supported is so, so good for this world and just too easy to do. Here are a few ways to do some good for the women in your professional and personal life:
I’m planning your retirement party next week, even though you’ve mostly just been a pain in my ass for that last year. You regularly made me late to meetings or required me to duck out early. You interrupted my work flow at your convenience, and you made me stress out like crazy if I didn’t get to you on time. Thanks to you, I ate lunch at my desk almost every day because you took up what little free time I had… Read more…