How to build a career without messing up the kids.
Sure, it's true that men are much more involved in caring for kids and keeping the household from chaos than they ever have been before. But for women who want a successful career AND a flourishing family, the challenges are still great.
I think this is partly because women think they should be able to do it all, and they feel guilty when they have to make choices. Either they're leaving work too early or they're not home with the kids early enough. Either they miss the big meeting or they miss the big field trip [insert here: concert, award ceremony, softball game, play].
Here are a few suggestions to help the managing mother survive—and thrive.
Take your work with you. You wouldn't think writing a marketing plan at a place like Chuck E. Cheese is possible, but it is. The experienced woman can boot up the laptop, pull out resource material, and go all laser focus on the task at hand.
Tip: Always carry pens and a notebook. You think you'll remember that big idea, but chaos has a way of interfering with genius.
Use the morning. Some of us are night people; some of us have never once been able to stay up for Conan. I'm a morning person and have found over the years that I may get more accomplished early in the morning than I will for the rest of the day at work.
Tip: Find your optimal work time and make it work for you.
Share your passion. Those of us who love what we do can pass something very important on to our children about discipline, dedication, independence, and pride. They can learn about the concept of work as fulfillment, of problems as challenges, and of colleagues as a kind of extended family.
Kids need to know that work can be fun. This way, they'll know what to expect and to look for when they start out on the road to their own careers.
Tip: Bring kids in to see where you work and to meet the people you work with. This makes your work life less of a mystery, and more of an experience they can share with you.
For a discussion of organizations as families, see Chapter 12 of Barsh and Cranston's How Remarkable Women Lead.
Be present. With everything that working mothers have on their minds, it's easy to actually never be completely in the moment.
Tip: When you're at home and work thoughts start to take over, set aside a time—later in the evening or in the morning—and tell yourself you will focus on this thought…then.
Jon Kabat Zinn, founder of the Stress Reduction Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, has written these helpful books: Full Catastrophe Living, and Wherever You Go, There You Are.
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