Summer 2015 By The Numbers

shutterstock_99675002We are only halfway through the summer…..shit.

Lets face it, if you are a working mother, summer is not always fun in the sun. It is trying to juggle the kids EVERY SINGLE DAY and at the same time, trying to actually get work done (oh, and also trying to maintain your sanity). My kids are out of daycare and I wish I could tell you that summers get easier. They don’t. It just gets worse. So far this summer, here are my numbers:

– The number of minutes spent reading that awesome book that my best friend recommended as a ‘great summer read’.

1 – The number of ‘Brunswick Zone’ meltdowns my 9 year old has had. That is when he has a shit fit after I refuse to take him to Brunswick Zone so he can spend every penny he has. Believe it or not, last summer, I think he had already melted down about 5 times, so I think I see improvement. Feels good.

2 – The number of meals I have cooked. True story.

3 – The number of loads of laundry I do everyday because my kids have suddenly decided that they need more that one outfit on any given day. And I have boys!

10 – The number of times every hour that I tell my kids to leave me alone so I can actually get something done.

14 – The number of physical altercations I have broken up between my boys.

20 The number of times I have considered sending my kids away to an ALL – SUMMER recycling camp. Thats right, at least once a day, I regret not signing my kids up for camp. Next year, I am not asking them if they want to go, I am just doing it! I know, I know, a rookie mistake.

32 – The number of minutes of actual work that I have completed since the beginning of the summer.

43 – The number of days left this summer (not that I am counting or anything).

Good luck getting all your shit done, Proud Working Mom. Remember, just take it a day at a time. If that fails, then I recommend drinking!

Stop Being A Working Mother Martyr!

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Do you see long work hours as a sign of character? A badge of honor? Do you feel like you have to show your face at the office to be perceived as working hard? Do you feel needed when you come back to your desk and find 20 voicemails and 150 emails? Do you feel compelled to be seen at the office, otherwise, you could be mistaken for a part-timer?

Ladies, working like crazy no longer guarantees a job for life. How many times have you heard about the dedicated 20+ year employee who got laid off? Working yourself to death does not guarantee a raise, a bonus, or even a promotion. What it does guarantee is not seeing your family very much.

I used to be there but have learned from my mistakes.

One of the problems working mothers face is that we don’t have very many role models to look up to. Instead, we emulate people we think  are successful. Looks can be deceiving. That person we think is succeeding is working 24/7, trading office time for family time, and is constantly stressed out. Are long hours really the hallmark of a successful working mother? The answer is no.

The good news is that the world is changing and the expectations about working, hours, and face time in the office is changing too. I now have great success with my career, I have dinner with my family most nights, have some wonderful friendships, and even carve out time for outside activities like this wonderful site and the occasional exercise class.

How do I do it? I stay focused and set boundaries.

Change Your Thinking: Work more effectively for less time- After almost 20 years of working long hours, unnecessary travel, and unproductive office time, I finally realized something. If you do your job, and do it well, you will get ahead even if you don’t arrive at 5:30 am, and stay until after dark. Your biggest enemy is not your work schedule, your email box, or even an unsupportive manager… it’s the way you think about work. Stop assuming that working a lot means you are effective- they are two very different things. Ask yourself the following question every single day: am I being productive?

Demand Evaluations Based Upon Accomplishments (not hours worked)- I run a sales team. At the end of a long day, all that really matters is if we make our goals. If this can be accomplished in 60 hours per week or 2, it makes no difference. It is a dramatic example but the idea is the same for all professions (not just sales). When you are making a profit for your company, when you close a new account, or when you help to get major goals completed, this is much more valuable than office time spent reviewing email, chatting with co-workers, or filing reports. Make the time you are in the office count for both you and your employer.

Teach them how to work with you: “Hey, can you have this ready for me tomorrow morning?”  “Can you make the sales meeting at 6:30 tonight?”  

In my early years, I would work all night to meet deadlines, often even sleeping at my desk. I was always the first into the office and the last to leave. I would never miss evening meetings. But then I had kids. Life changed and so did my priorities.

Consider this radical idea: rather than just hopping to everything and killing yourself in the process, tell your co-workers how to work with you, not the other way around. Simply say that you want to give the project your best effort and will need four days to complete it – set a deadline that works for you. Or for that evening meeting, respond that it doesn’t work for you and give them a more realistic time (that doesn’t interrupt family time).

When you do this an amazing, almost magical thing happens: 99% of the time, they listen and adjust.  Don’t assume they understand your schedule. They don’t.

Enlist the partner in your life- the importance of a real partnership– We spend a lot of time talking about this at PWM. Dual career families are now the single largest group of families in the workplace. If you add in single parent homes you now have the majority of the workforce- not kidding. When we all support each other, we can build a new model (eventually a more popular one) of dual parenting, high productivity, and reasonable hours.

Women and Self-Esteem

 

imagesSelf-esteem is a term used in psychology to reflect a person‘s overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth.

It is generally thought that the more self-esteem a person has, the better it is for them. The world contains plenty of people whose self-esteem appears very high. This causes us to question whether there can be too much of a good thing. Is self-esteem always a good and positive thing? Is there ever a time when there can be too much?

We all know that low self-esteem is something that can destroy a person’s quality of life. It’s a real killer to any motivation or confidence that one may have and can bleed into other areas of your life. On the other hand, when someone thinks more highly of themself than they should, it can be perceived as arrogance. This is also bad.

The key is finding a healthy balance between the two extremes, and to love yourself as well as displaying humility. It is in between these two that a person finds balance and can make peace within their life as well as with the rest of the world. Balance is a necessary quality in all aspects of life, and this one is no exception.

How is your self-esteem?

Keep in mind that women are notorious for poor self-esteem. We have been taught and shown our entire lives that it is not polite or ‘lady like’ to display too much confidence. Don’t be that bossy girl who has a big mouth or who can confidently show the world how it is done. Don’t stand out and act like a ‘know-it-all’. No one likes that. We have all been taught, or have seen this in action.

Ladies, it is 2014. Time to stop worrying about what others think and start building up your self-esteem. You are awesome and you know it. Now it is time to show everyone else. And while we are at it, lets show our daughters and other girls (and fellow women) that it is ok to be bossy. It is ok to know all the answers and it is ok to know it all!

You are valuable. You are worthy of being loved. You are unique. Your life holds amazing potential. You can do great things when you put your mind to it. So enough talk ~ get out there and do it!

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.

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.

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.

The Top Myths (or Lies) About Working Moms

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I am going to just say it out loud and proud:  I LOVE being a working mom.

I am just a regular working mom. I’m not trying to have it all, or buy it all, or climb the corporate ladder. I’m just trying to take care of my family and have a job that I can be proud of while being a mom.

Working moms aren’t fully understood. There are lots of rumors floating out there about working moms so today, I am going to address a few of the more popular myths (or lies) that exist about working moms.

1. We are not good parents. MYTH. There are some purported experts that say you cannot have a successful career and a successful home life at the same time. (Yes, these are people from this century). I guess the first question I would ask these “experts” is how they are defining success? To me, success is found in the fact that you can show up to work, do the job assigned, help run your household, and raise your kids with your partner. Maybe we are not perfect parents, but we are great parents. In fact, I know LOTS of working mothers that do it all and do it well!

2. We have “problem” children. MYTH. Why do kids of working mothers get a bad rap? As a mother who has both worked and stayed home (and coached a soccer team full of kids for the past three years), I have personally experienced a wide range of children and backgrounds. Kids are kids. Some are difficult and some are not. Jumping to the conclusion that kids are problematic because their mother is working is insane. In fact, I would argue the opposite. Sending my kids to daycare was a great opportunity for them to socialize with other kids, stay engaged and learn during the day while having fun.

3. We let someone else raise our children. MYTH.  This is just silly. We are still the ones providing the love, the care, and even the 3 a.m. wake up calls.  Mom and Dad are doing most of the heavy lifting with help from others like day care providers and teachers. It is a team effort.

4We all live “the good life”. MYTH. Sorry, just not true. We don’t have everything we want and we don’t do whatever we want. No one has it all. When we decide to work, it is not without sacrifice. Working mothers are faced with specific challenges, just like any other mom. By deciding to work, a working mother has taken on the challenge of being able to have a career AND a family. So I say to those Proud Working Moms, BRAVO.

5. We only work for money. MYTH. There are many reasons why we work: For finances, for sanity, for purpose, and because we genuinely like it!

These myths are all stupid, right? Did I leave any out? Feel free to add in any that I missed. We are all trying to accomplish the same thing: To become Proud Working Moms. So lets ALL start doing just that!

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