How to make work+life decisions as a working mom 

Have you ever made a job change because it would look good on your resume and found it made you miserable? How many times have taken on a stretch project or a task you hated in the hopes that it would help you get ahead when it didn't? Do you ever ask yourself if you are doing what you actually want or whether you are following someone else's model for winning at work? 

There are a lot of words of wisdom for working moms out right now. Ivanka Trump is the latest to write a how-to for women to empower themselves in the face of structural barriers to advancement in the workplace.  IVANKA. TRUMP. I can't even articulate how surreal it is that a woman with arguably limitless privilege, resources, and support, could be doling out advice about overcoming obstacles.  Hers is one of many books and resources that have come out on this topic in recent years. Some authors have so much to teach us drawing about fighting a broken system but others are just co-opting messages they believe sound empowering or remotely feminist. (NYT's "Ask A Feminist: How Empowering is My Brand?" column hits the nail on the head.) The barrage of #messages about the way women should take the lead at work shouldn't be taken at face value. 

We each have a unique set of circumstances that guide, restrict or expand our opportunities at work and at home. Those of us who have tried to live up to someone else's standards or ideals, know that it comes with a physical and psychological cost.  Remember to check in with yourself regularly, and reflect on your choices and routines.  Do they reflect what you really want?  The more we absorb advice from the women who seem to have it all together, the harder it is for us to recognize what we truly value.  Be honest about your own experiences, priorities, values and needs. Be your own work-life role model. 

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. -Neil Gaiman

The Empowered Parent (Volume 4)

Personal: Becoming a mother changed me in so many ways. This NYT article The Birth of A Mother, discusses the importance of recognizing motherhood as an identity shift-- one of the most significant physical and psychological changes a woman will ever experience. Anthropologists call it "Matrescence" a developmental stage reflecting four major challenges: changing family dynamics, ambivalence, and the "good enough mother." We tend to downplay this unique and dynamic identity shift when we talk about working motherhood. Anyway, if you haven't read this piece yet, do.

Professional: Motherhood with all its joys and revelations, comes with at a cost in the workplace. Mothers are not compensated for all the work we do at home and are heavily penalized at work. We need to work for policy and culture change in the workplace and speak up for what we personally deserve. Benish Shah and the team at Refinery 29 made this outstanding salary negotiation guide to help you get yours. This article will help you make your case. It focuses on something I've long believed-- motherhood helps us develop as leaders and as women. 

Practical: I read a mothers day ad from a tech company that called attention to all the apps that can outsource everything we do. This may seem odd to point out as someone who put two years of her life into one of those apps, but the list was exhausting to read. It reminded me of this. What moms need is to do so much less. Here's a great set of tips to prevent technology from taking over our lives. My favorite tip is #3. "Remember: the most precious thing you can give someone is your presence." TRUTH. 

Partnership:  Josh and I are working on a big family project. It was clear that our default "put it on the (google) calendar" system wasn't quite going to cut it.  We've stepped it up and are now using Trello to track every checklist and shared deadline. Sharing responsibilities in a dual career family is a challenge both practically and emotionally.  In this segment on the Note to Self Podcast, Manoush Zomorodi interviews Andrew Moravcsik (husband to Anne-Marie Slaughter) about how they have and haven't managed work and life together. 

Parenting:  Read Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest. This book is parenting gold. They show how to tune into your family’s unique values and priorities and confidently identify the activities, stuff, information, and people that truly merit space in your life. The book offers practical strategies for managing time, decluttering the home space, simplifying mealtimes, streamlining recreation, and prioritizing self-care. 

Political: I believe real change will come when we can elect a representative government. Women and people of color are underrepresented at all levels in the 500,000+ elected offices across the U.S. I know so many women who are brilliant, resourceful, agents of change, born leaders who are looking for support to run for office. Organizations like She Should Run offer training help women envision themselves in public leadership roles, as well as platforms to nominate and support other women leaders.   

The Empowered Parent (Volume 3)

Links and articles related to your 6 Ps  
(professional, personal, practical, partnership, parenting and political)

Professional: Both organizations and employees can benefit from efforts to make work more meaningful.  Rethinking Work is a wonderful article about the structure of work and the importance of finding a deeper sense of purpose in our professional lives. 

Personal: Self-care can be so hard that sometimes it’s even hard to find an article I like on the topic. Last summer, my dear friend Molly Simms and I, snuck away from our partners and my kids and drove to go water sliding by ourselves at 9am. That’s self-care, right? She’s writing a piece about it that I’ll share this summer. Here’s another great piece by Molly about finding the soul-mate within

Practical: In this Fatherly piece, an excerpt from her book "How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids," Jancee Dunn outlines the benefits of giving your kids a role in the practical aspects of family life. She cites research at Brown Medical School showing that doing chores makes children thrive in countless ways, and can be a predictor of success. She quotes researcher Richard Rende, “It’s about raising kids who will be successful in life and work, not just in their college application process. They develop empathy, because they understand that someone might need their help. They learn about being industrious, and the importance of doing the ‘dirty jobs’ in life. Kids who aren’t willing to do the grunt work are not going to just leap to the top of the heap. This is the recipe for the young adult who will not be entitled — ’nuff said.”

Partnership: Financial wellness expert Amanada Clayman is offering a course for couples to improve how they talk about money. In the course (free this month only!), Amanda talks about how to establish ground rules for communicating effectively about money, prioritize each partner's "asks," assign money management roles suited to each partner's strengths, and bring it all together into a working plan.

Parenting:  I tend to ask my kids "How was your day?" every day.  The response is almost always a distracted "um...good?" or a "moooooom!" I still ask it largely because I am so tired at the end of the day I forget to think about a better way. This list from the Cool Mom Picks team has great 30 great alternative suggestions including: open-ended questions about feelings, about school, and about the future. It also has a list of open-ended questions that help challenge your kids.

Political: I love stories about professionals who have pivoted in their careers after becoming a parent. Sloane Davidson’s story is truly remarkable. She has 15 years of experience in branding, business development, communications, corporate social responsibility, event production, and fundraising. Shortly after becoming a mom, she moved home to Pittsburg to work on refugee resettlement. She recently started a mentor matching program for refugees called Hello Neighbor. Read more about her story here, here and here.

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The Empowered Parent (Volume 2)

This edition of the empowered parent is brought to you by the phenomenal women in my digital neighborhood.  I mention a few here. 

Personal: Let me preface this recommendation by saying I am not a photographer, and I'm a novice at meditation but I am in awe of what Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick does. She helps parents refocus and become more mindful through photography. I love this post on her blog where she talks about leading from within. "Now, more than ever, we all need to step forward as leaders in our own lives." Couldn't. Agree. More. 

Practical: February was a big month for me on The Broad Experience podcast (two episodes in one month)! In this episode, I speak with host Ashley Milne Tyte about the importance of delegation and how hard it is for many of us to do it. (Myself included.) 

Professional: How to Close a Gender Gap: Let Employees Control Their Schedules. The title of this article almost says it all and I couldn't agree more. It also features a new platform for flex work called WERK. Co-founded by the phenomenal Annie Dean.  Werk is one of many companies finding and promoting opportunities for women to work on schedules that complement their lives. 

(Bonus: In last week's The Broad Experience mini-show I talk about the possible impact of caregiving on career. I talk about specifically about taking family leave, how to plan for a successful return and my work with the Center for Parental Leave Leadership. 

Partnership: Partnership refers to all the sources of support in your life. I feel fortunate to have friends who feel like family. They help me get through this working and parenting thing in one piece. My first mom friend ever is like family now. (xoJ) We are there for each other through the tantrums, the jobs losses and gains, and the daily grind.  This piece in this edition of Tue/Night showcases a number of close friendships and the many ways these women support each other. Tue/Night is edited by the brilliant Margit Detweiler

Parenting: Love the New Normal (Parenting in Hard Times) I never thought I'd be talking to my 7 and 4-year-old children about white nationalism, having to explain bans and swastikas.  I was so proud to take my daughter with me to the Women's March but was taken aback when she asked me to explain why some people were carrying pictures of hangers. I tried to do so in the most child-friendly way I knew how. This new normal has changed the game for me as a parent. My friend Magda does a wonderful job at finding the silver lining in this article. 

Political: There are so many ways to get involved politically right now and no better time to speak up for your values. It can feel overwhelming at times. The site 5 calls a day simplifies activism in a way that many busy parents can appreciate.



The Empowered Parent (Volume 1)

I have recently been contacted by dozens of clients, colleagues, and friends who share my passion for culture change and wanted to become more informed and involved in the fight to support working parents. My goal as a practitioner is to help you feel empowered and inspired to make personal, professional and political change. I have always used the 5Ps (Personal, Professional, Parenting, Partnership, and Practical) to help parent clients manage their overwhelm. Now I am adding one more P to the mix_ Political. Every two weeks, I'll post a series of interesting articles about each of these areas and a link to an article or organization that is fighting for the advancement of family-friendly policies and practices. 

ProfessionalHiding in the Bathroom Podcast, Leading as an Introvert. On this episode of her Forbes Podcast host (and one of my favorite people) Morra Aarons-Mele, talks to the Blogher CEO Lisa Stone about how to lead confidently as an introvert. 

PracticalThe Invisible Workload That Drags Women Down. "I'm the one who notices..." Research shows that more often than not it's working moms who think about what needs to be done at home. Author Lisa Wade, suggests that the burden of household responsibilities should be more evenly split between the sexes "and when they are," Wade says, "I expect to be inspired by what (women) put their minds to."

PartnershipHow the ‘Dining Dead’ Got Talking Again I'm not sure why this modern love piece about a marriage that was saved by a bird feeder appealed to me. It's a great reminder to find simple ways to reconnect with a partner.  

Parenting:  Living with Children: Your kids should not be the most important This was a hard article to get my head around. My children's happiness is typically top of mind but now, in light of the current political climate, I found this reframe helpful. "The most important thing about children is the need to prepare them properly for responsible citizenship...The primary objective is to raise a child such that community and culture are strengthened."

Political: I took the pic above when I attended the We Won't Wait 2016 Summit in September. Visit the site to find out more about the organizations behind it, all committed to elevating the voices of women from all racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. They are calling for a policy agenda that promotes economic security and communities that thrive. Add your name to the individual pledge, (written before the election)  and commit to it: "I will use my voice and my power to fight for a comprehensive economic agenda that spells real change on all the issues that are important to me and my family. I won’t wait for real change any longer." Amen to that.