Working Mothers: Ask For A Raise

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It’s that time of the year again – your annual review. You know you have done a good job, but your heart is racing, your palms are sweaty, and you are DREADING the conversation. Why? Because you know that your annual review might be the only real opportunity to ask for a raise.

Asking for an increase in pay is both stressful and hard to do. As working mothers, we often sell ourselves short and often don’t ask for what we need and deserve. How many of us entered into conversations like these and found ourselves saying things like: “I am kind of thinking that $5,000 would be ok.”- when what you really want to ask for is $10,000 because it is fair. Why do we do this? Quite simply, as women, we don’t want to appear to be greedy, unappreciative or perceived as non-team players. Being accommodating is part of who we are. “We make working work”- for our families, for our co-workers, for our friends, for our bosses.

In doing this, sometimes we sell ourselves short. By the way, your male counterparts don’t think about these conversations even remotely the same way. Often, for many males, review time is viewed as an opportunity to shine, brag, and ask for what is deserved.

This post is dedicated to finding your courage and getting fairly compensated for a job well done. As working mothers, we spend a lot of time away from our families.  As Proud Working Moms, we believe work can be both empowering and rewarding. But, in our effort to Lean In, we must also KNOW OUR VALUE. We must prepare for these conversations, ask for what is appropriate, and expect a positive result. As all Proud Working Moms know…it starts with us.

Step One: Put Your Big Girl Panties On
I can’t remember ever having a boss that has proactively approached me and offered to pay me more money. Remember that while we are all on the same team when it comes to working, when it comes to salary, we are on different sides. Your boss’s objective is to get you to do the work for the least amount possible (and still be happy and productive). Your objective is to get paid the most amount possible (while also being happy and productive). Two different goals.

Once you understand this, then it is time to raise your hand. You should not expect your boss to be happy you are approaching him/her with added expense, but if done correctly, they will respect you for having the courage to do so.

Step Two: Get Prepared
These are tough conversations, for sure, but get even tougher if you stroll in unprepared. If you are not thoughtful, you run the risk of embarrassing yourself and highlighting your flaws instead of your strengths. Here are my top tips towards getting ready for this important conversation:

Start a work journal: Every day for at least one month prior to your meeting, document each major task you do, why it is valuable, and anything you learned along the way to completion. Keeping track of the work you have done will help you outline what you have accomplished and keeping track of how you did it, will help remind you of what worked and what didn’t. This can be useful.

Give yourself an honest review: Before the review with your manager, have one with yourself. Be your worst critic. Have you done the hard work to justify the expense? What has your work attitude been like? What have been your accomplishments this year? The more detail, the better. Know it cold.

Gather market data: Don’t go in blind. Knowing your value begins with knowing what the going rate is for your position. Do some homework and comparisons against organizations of similar size, industry and location. Take into account the standard stuff when comparing your resume against others: experience, education, and performance.

Step Three: Schedule the Meeting and Be Clear of Expectations

This is an important meeting, don’t wing it. You can’t just “pop in” or make your approach at the water cooler. Schedule the meeting in advance and don’t be evasive about what you want to discuss (your review, your career path, and your raise). 

Be happy, not defensive: No one likes to hear criticism, but sometimes it is worth hearing. If you are given specific suggestions on how you can improve, show your boss you are a professional and take these tips with an open mind.

Step Four: Decide What You Will Do If You Get Turned Down
Whenever I go into a business presentation, I always have in the back of my mind what I will say should the deal go south, fall apart, or crumble before my eyes. Your annual review and salary negotiation is no different.

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Before you step into your managers office, be prepared for what you will do if she says “no”. Will you quit? Beware: threatening to leave over salary demands could alienate you from your boss, who may resent feeling held hostage. Or what’s worse- she could take you up on it.

Will you look for a new job?

Will you take any constructive criticism he or she may have to offer? Maybe there is a good reason for the undesired response: company financials, downsizing, or… you are asking for too much money.

Step Five: Be patient
Remember that your manager may need a few days to think things over. Don’t lose hope if you don’t get an instant “yes”, it may require some additional discussion with his/her boss, too. Big decisions are never easy.

No matter what, be proud that you took these steps to think about and plan for your future. Go get em’ Proud Working Moms!

Summer Camp Registration – A Cautionary Tale

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Guess what happens when you wait until the first week of April to sign your kids up for summer camp?

YOU ARE SCREWED.

I know this because I just tried to sign both of my kids up for a local summer camp nestled in the mountains. I was shocked, surprised, and a bit angry when I discovered that the entire camp is sold out for the entire summer. They don’t have ANY openings. Did I mention that it just snowed here last night? I don’t know about you but I am still recovering from Spring Break. No way is it time to sign them up and plan the entire summer. I am not ready for that yet. I finally called the camp to confirm what I already knew – there will be no fun summer camp for my kids. Instead, I am going to have to send my kids to “Recycling Camp” or “Taxidermy Camp” or one of the crappy camps made for kids of slacker moms.

This was definitely not in any of the parent manuals! I really wish my kids were back in day care where the summer fun was planned for me and there was an available spot for my toddler. Now, I have been thrust into the cold, cruel, cut throat world of summer camp. And I am losing.

What is a working mother supposed to do? What am I going to do with my kids all summer? Are most of the other camps also sold out? Who are these mutant parents who signed their kids up for camp in their spare time over the Christmas Holidays?

After some research on camps and summer programs in my area, I am happy to report that there is a summer track program that had availability for both of my boys. So, for several mornings this summer, my boys will be in track and I also found a golf camp that I may force them to attend. Maybe I will start making them write blog posts. I can’t be sure. Either way, it is going to be a long summer here.

So listen up all you Proud Working Moms out there – I am writing this post to inform all of you who had no idea about summer camp that you better get on it and start planning your summer! Either that or we can carpool to Taxidermy Camp.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Should They Stay or Should They Go? Sick Kids and the Working Mom Dilemma

Should My Sick Child Stay Home or Go To School?It is 6:00 a.m. when the alarm goes off. I would love to say that I was in a deep sleep but I was not. It had been a long night and my son was up for most of it. His growing cough kept us both up. I wasn’t able to go back to sleep because all I could think about was what am I going to do in the morning? He will definitely be sick and I have the worst day imaginable at work. Could I give him some Motrin and send him anyway? No, it is the sleep deprivation talking. Cue the panic.

Of course it would be easier if I could either just work from home, or be a stay at home mom. Unfortunately, this is not my reality. I work 8-5 every day, and I have only a few sick days a year. I can’t be the only mom with this challenge- can I?

Does this sound familiar? Welcome to the world of the working mother. This dilemma is among the most difficult to navigate.
When you have a child that is sick or borderline sick, should they stay home or should they go to day care/school?

I have been here before and will admit to teetering on the edge: I have ignored signs of illness that I knew were there, and sent my child into daycare anyway. Was I putting other children at risk? Was I putting my own? Probably. Yes.

The most helpful thing to do is get rid of the negative thoughts and energy: they never are productive. So working mommies, let’s put all of the feelings of guilt and judgment aside and come up with a game plan…below are my suggestions:

1) Call on family. Do you have family nearby that can be on call for days where you have to keep your child home? If so, I would make arrangements in advance for days like these. That way, you can have someone you trust and can rely on to help on those days where you have a sick little one and cannot phone it in.

2) Negotiate. If you are like me, you do not have any family nearby and are on your own. In this instance, I whip out my calendar and look at my day. My husband and I negotiate the day to see which one of us can stay home. During schedule negotiations, scrutinize your schedule to see which appointments really need to happen and which ones you can reschedule. It is helpful to keep in mind that you could each take a half day off and switch at lunch time.

3) Call on Colleagues. Do you have people at work that can stand in for you?
If so, I would call on them. I make sure that I help my fellow moms at work when they are in need because I always know that it is just a matter of time before I will need them.

4) Use your intuition. If your gut is telling you that you need to get your child to the doctor, always trust your instincts. Sometimes, we are busting our humps to get into work to impress other people and as a mom, your first priority is your family. Call in and say you have to be with your sick child. That is what sick time at work is for.

I am not sure if I have written this to help you or to reiterate to myself that it is all going to be o.k. Today, I have decided to reschedule all my appointments and stay home with my sick son. I am going to let go of the guilt of not going into work and worry about it tomorrow. For today, I am going to cuddle up in bed with my boy.

Great Kids Snacks Review – What Every Mom Needs

Great Kids Snacks Review

Great Kids Snacks Review

Click here for Great Kids Snacks

This is our Great Kids Snacks Review. For more information, click the link below:

Great Kids Snacks – Official Site

As working mothers, we are all in this together. The hardest part of my day, by far, is keeping my kids all “snacked up”. It begins in the morning when I get the kids packed up for school, making sure they have decent snacks for the day. Then, when they get off the bus, we start all over again. Usually the afternoon snack is harder to manage because it is closer to dinner time and I don’t want them chowing down on sugar and ruining their appetite. Needless to say I am always looking for a helping hand in this area. Today, we are reviewing Great Kids Snacks.

Great Kids Snacks Review – What Is It?

Great Kids Snacks is a subscription box created by Kyle Atkinson. He is on a mission to help kids (and moms) have healthy, portable snacks available when it is snack time. After ordering from the website, the box is delivered right to your door. Each box comes with 30 individually-wrapped snacks that are kid tested and nutritionist-approved.

Great Kids Snacks Review – What I Like

The best part about Great Kids Snacks is that there is a variety of different snacks and those snacks are all portable. This means that they can go into lunch boxes, my purse, my car, or right into the snack drawer at home. It also gives us the opportunity to try snacks we have not heard of. In this box, my favorite snack was the lightly salted, Dry Roasted Edamame. It was a salty, crunchy alternative to chips that would make my kids happy. My kids loved the Hummus Dip and chips and also loved getting to open the box and check out all the new snacks.

Great Kids Snacks Review – What I Didn’t Like

In order to give a balanced review, I have to point out that kids are tough customers. There were a few things that they would not try. Specifically, the Meatless Vegan Jerky looked odd in the package and at one point, our dog grabbed it and dropped it immediately (it was really funny). The kids would not try this one. Also, my son has a peanut allergy so there were a few things that he could not have (I sent those items to work with my husband). Still, I give Great Kids Snacks a lot of credit for picking out some really great and healthy options – something I have been unable to do.

Great Kids Snacks Review – Overall Thoughts

Overall, I think that Great Kids Snacks is a terrific way to try out some healthy snack options. If anything, it is a great way to discover something new. I hadn’t heard of half of the items in our box. At this point during the school year, I am running out of snack ideas so I really appreciated the box of goodies. If you are looking for healthy snacks that are conveniently delivered to your door, then check out Great Kids Snacks, we recommend it!

Click here to buy Great Kids Snacks!

Working Mothers and The Importance of a Real Partnership

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I am told I travel a lot for work. I travel every other week, usually for a couple of days- maybe this is a lot, I am not sure.  Either way, I’d venture to say that’s more than the average working mom. Working mother travel is predictable in the sense that at some point, either before, during or after my trip I can always plan on someone asking:

“So who is watching your kids when you are away?”

The question comes from women. It comes from men. It comes from peers. It comes from fellow working mothers. I am no longer surprised by this question, in fact, I expect it. When I answer, simply saying the kids are home with their dad, I see the look in their eyes. It is disbelief, it is surprise, it is pity, all of the above.

Every. Single. Time.

What is unfortunate about these reactions are that so many people still assume that just because I am the mother (and I am traveling) that I must be leaving my kids with my mother, or mother-in-law, or sister, or some other very capable female. Not usually considered is the possibility that my husband is not only running the show, but in a very competent way. This is truly disappointing.

[box] The real success of my working mother life has always been about partnership. For our family, we have always “made working work” by depending upon one another and thinking about our work and parent commitments as equally important- to each other.[/box]

For example, on the mornings I travel, it is not uncommon for my departure to occur before anyone is even out of bed. This means my husband Scott has to ready our three kids, drop them at daycare and school, and still get to his job on time (which is early). Additionally, in the evenings when I am away, he has to manage multiple pickups, volleyball practices, prepare dinner, take care of homework responsibilities, and prepare everyone for the next day. By anyone’s standards, male or female, this is a ton of work!

Our partnership works because I reciprocate by taking on the majority of drop offs, pickups, practices, and play dates on days when I am working from home. Very truthfully, if Scott and I had more of a traditional marriage, whereby the majority of household AND parenting responsibilities fell upon only me, the professional roles I have enjoyed in the past and today simply would not be possible. Both my career options and development of those options would have been limited. Because I have this true partner in life whom has been helping along the way, my career has grown and blossomed. And…. because my career has grown and I feel like I have a real partner, I am a much happier individual.

A big thank you to my partner, Scott. Without you, none of this would be possible.

This is an excerpt from Jennifer Barbin’s new book: Guilt Be Gone which is available on our site and on Amazon.

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