Monday, July 30, 2012

Can Working Moms Have it All?

The working moms’ debate isn’t a new one or even a unique one. Since women began entering the workforce, figuring out how to balance kids, career, and home has been a gender-wide dilemma. While there has been a steady rise of women entering the workforce, no universal solution to this pressing dilemma has been secured.

Michelle LaRowe

Whenever it’s announced that a newly selected high ranking CEO or government official is “with child”, the media focus ultimately becomes “Can working moms have it all?” Perhaps the real question and focus of attention should be “Can working moms have what they want?”

If you think about it, maybe the reason this question isn’t asked is because the media and the public are afraid of the answer. Perhaps the reality is that moms want different things. Or digging even deeper, perhaps moms are willing to sacrifice or forgo different things to get what they ultimately want.

While a majority of the women featured in media pieces can afford to have what they want, either because of their expertise, because they’re so high in demand they can set their own schedule, or because they have the finances to outsource anything they’d like, which frees up more time to focus on what they want to, the majority of working moms in the American public can’t. And for those who can, it’s often because of the conscious choices and sacrifices they’re making to achieve what they want – to stay home and care for their children. And for those moms in the middle, who can’t afford to stay home, but can’t afford to go to work because the cost of childcare is more than their paycheck, they too have choices and decisions to make, which most always will result in sacrificing things or going without for both themselves and their children.

Working mom, stay-at-home mom, or any hybrid of the two, the bottom line is that all moms, working or not, are faced with choices that they must make and sacrifices that they must be willing accept. While the working mom may choose to hire a full-time nanny so she can return to work, the stay-at-home mom may choose not to send her child to summer camp so she can financially afford to stay home. While the working mom may sacrifice seeing her child’s first steps, the stay-at-home mom may sacrifice her career and the income generated from it.

So as the focus shifts from having it all to having what you want, how do working moms get what they want and find a home-work balance that suits them?

First, they accept that mommy guilt is mommyversial. Whether you’re a working mom who has to say no to chaperoning your child’s first fieldtrip, or you’re a stay-at-home mom whose son took a nosedive off the bed while you were right there watching, guilt is mommyversial.

Second, these moms also understand that just because they feel guilty, doesn’t mean they are guilty. Regardless of the pressures that extended family, friends, and society put on you, if you know you’re making the right decisions and sacrifices for the best interest of your family, you have to rest in that knowledge. Remember, you and your spouse understand your family’s unique situation best and are best suited to make decisions that are in the best interest of your family.

Third, they utilize their momtourage: the people, places and things that make it easier to do more of what they want to do and to achieve their goals. The dry cleaner that picks up and delivers, the grocery store that allows you to shop online, a mom’s group that does weekly meal swaps, the housecleaner that keeps the house neat and tidy, and most importantly, a supportive spouse who is committed to sharing home and childcare responsibilities and a childcare provider you explicitly trust are all members of a working mom’s momtourage. When those in her momtourage do their jobs well, a working mom is able to do her job well and carve out more time to spend with her family.

For some moms, staying home full-time with their children is most important. For others, providing for their children’s needs and wants is paramount. For still others, doing a combination of both is the best of both worlds. Regardless of what anyone else thinks is the best practice, it’s safe to assume that all mothers make the choices they make and accept the sacrifices they do because they believe that they are doing so in the best interest of their family.

In the end, it’s not about having it all. It’s about having what you want and figuring out how to make your wants become your reality.

Written by Michelle LaRowe, Editor in Chief. You can read more tips for working moms in Michelle’s book, Working Moms 411: How to Manage Kids, Career and Home, available wherever books are sold.

Contacts and sources:
Debbie Denard

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