The results of the "Making it Work Survey" show that parents who rated themselves as “5 – very satisfied” with their work-life balance* are skilled at the strategy: making time for what matters most. It seems these very satisfied folks make careful choices and are very attentive to living their values. Their methods for doing this fall into a few categories:
1. Prioritize. The most common method for the making time for what matters most strategy turns out to be knowing what your values are and choosing to live them. Several of you commented that being able to see your life in chapters – e.g. putting your career as number two, for now- knowing that there will be more time for that later – helps you to feel satisfied.
2. Manage time and resources. I almost named this category “get help” but I realized that it is more than that. We all make choices about how to manage our lives, careers and households. And, as any good project manager will know, managing tasks on time, on budget, and to a high quality standard is the key to success. Our “5's" seem to be excellent project managers who know how to allocate time and resources to achieve the most high quality result: total satisfaction. As one “5” put it,
“[I Implement] specific time management strategies to ensure that work does not over run my life. Focusing constantly on priorities, what matters most and what makes me and my family happy. Setting goals and putting strategies in place to achieve them.”
Here’s another amazing time manager:
“…when I was going to school and the kids were in school, I made a menu every Sunday, went to the grocery store and cooked what I planned each night. I often did batch cooking on Sunday. I also worked my classes so I would be home to meet the bus as much as possible. My youngest was a classical ballet dancer so I hired someone to drive him 4 days a week. I would always have a bag of books in the car, so if I was waiting somewhere, I would read. I learned to be able to pick up and put down things quickly.
Other ways that time and resources were allocated were:
A few respondents noted that they were good at “paying attention” to their children’s cues. That they were able to stop what they were doing and redirect their attention as needed to their children. Confidence in being able to be present in this way seems to relieve feelings of guilt in our “5’s”. One mom said,
“I try to watch my kids' behavior with regard to our schedules. Our youngest, for example, begins to get really bossy and needy when we haven't spent enough time with her. My oldest gets clingy.”
4. Be creative. I just loved your methods for fitting things in and getting things done in really creative ways. Here are a few of my favorites:
5. Communicate. “5’s” communicate a lot. With their spouses about division of duties and for priority setting. With employers about boundaries. With hired help about what is needed. With children about expectations and feelings. Every strategy mentioned above was typically accompanied by a corollary: these things don’t just happen without engaging people in a conversation about values, commitments, plans and boundaries.
The next two blogs will cover the next two most cited strategies that our “5’s” sited: Creating Real Partnerships and Keeping Perspective.
*Note: this is referring to the “Making It Work” survey that is the source data for many of my blog entries. I invite you to take the survey, or just take a look at the questions, if you haven’t already done so!
This week I've started digging into the results of the strategies that many of you provided in the Making It Work Survey. I took a look at the respondents who rated their satisfaction with their work life balance as a 4 or a 5 to find out what their strategies were.
The most common strategy theme was finding a job, or tweaking an existing job, to be able to have the right mix of career and home time. The mix itself varied greatly from person to person, but the idea was that our 4's and 5's seem to have taken charge and found a way to carve out the most ideal arrangement for themselves. Specifically, some approaches included:
1. Negotiate alternate or flexible work schedule. The most satisfied parents asserted that it's worth proposing to your employer an alternate full time schedule that allows more time with family. Examples included:
- Negotiating a four day work week to have three days with the kids.
- Having one parent work an early schedule and the other a late schedule so that each has special time with the children, and the children spend less time in day care.
- Each parent leaves work early a couple days per week to pick kids up from school and have special quality time, and making up the work after bedtime.
2. Scale back to part time. Many of you thought you wouldn't be able to meet your family's needs and work part time time, but, in the end, figured out that you could, in fact, make it work. This response really captured the spirit of the answers in this category:
"3 days/wk from 8:30-5 is perfect for me and I never thought I'd be able to find part-time but I did. My mom of all people really pushed me to look into it. Before I went on maternity leave my manager (a woman) had told me "I don't know how you could do consulting part-time." My mom said, "they won't do it for you; just come up with a solution and present it to them and make it airtight so they can't say no." Well she was right. Before coming back from maternity leave I started making phone calls and eventually found a project manager who was looking for my skills and was actually himself wondering if he could bring someone on part-time! And I do good work for him so he has kept me on. As long as I'm billable my consulting team can't really say no. It's been perfect."
3. Find a full time job that advances your career but also values work/life balance. I loved these responses because they really demonstrated that there are competitive, high-level full time jobs out there with employers that 'get it.' Whether it's allowing remote work or encouraging strong work-life boundaries, the most satisfied full-time working parents indicated that their positions and employers provided the kind of support that makes it work. Here were a few of the responses:
Shifting careers to the Federal government.
"I was working for a consulting firm Making $120K plus.. but working 50-55 hours a week... I decided to take a government job GS-13 step 10 Meaning $115K a year well below my skill set... but 37-40 hour work weeks ... oh and poor me 2 x a year I have to travel to Europe .... my husband watches my son. So far and it has worked out great.. I have flexibility in my work schedule and am very technically challenged... I lucked out."
Finding a job that allows work from home.
"I have a job now that provides great flexibility. I work from home when I'm not on the road and that has been terrific."
"[I chose] not to climb the corporate ladder or take a position that requires 24-7 attention, for more reasonable hours and a reasonable commute"
Aside from finding the right work environment, our most satisfied parents have figured out really effective approaches to making the most of the time at home. I look forward to sharing more next week. In the meantime, I'd love your comments on the findings I presented today.
My last several clients happened to be IT professionals. I'm starting to think that this is not a coincidence, but a signal that IT professionals need to cope with much more uncertainty and with much more agility than most other fields.
As it is, carers today are so much more uncertain and shifting, with everyone likely to make 2-3 career changes during their lives - at least!
The IT world requires even more rapid-cycle nearly constant career transitioning. The pace of innovation and client expectation is super-fast. I'd love to hear from those of you who are in the IT world or who live with someone who is. What have you noticed? What career navigation skills do you think are critical to success as a technologist?
I'd also LOVE to have a few guest bloggers on this topic. Let me know if you're interested!
One of the questions on the Making It Work Survey was “What does the little tape recorder in your head always re-play?” Yes, I realize that none of us have tape-recorders anymore, but somehow mp3 or iTunes playlist, or DVD doesn’t quite conjure up the same image! Your self-talk was a mix of positive and negative messages and concerns.
My good friend Amanda Hillman Smith responded to my last e-blast about my blog by sending me a link to another blog – The Inkspot Workshop In this great blog, the writer, Stacy, shares some wisdom that she picked up about balance: Balance is not a STATE, it is a PROCESS. Please know that all of you have discovered powerful ways to constantly improve and tweak your balance process to make it work for you, your families, and all those you love. I'll be sharing your strategies in upcoming blogs.
I decided to change the response categories that I listed in my last blog entry to “we” statements. Phrasing them this way reminds me of the Al Cheyt portion of the Jewish Yom Kippur liturgy. For those of you who aren’t familiar, in the Al Cheyt, we take collective responsibility for the mistakes made, or moral targets missed, by individuals in the community. The idea is that we are not alone in our struggles – that we confront them both as individuals and collectively.
Our tape recorder messages reflect that as a society we’re still figuring out this tricky work-life puzzle. So, please read the responses not as a list of depressing complaints, but as a communal struggle that we’re all in together.
Before you go on to read the responses, I’m so curious about how men will answer this same question. Please help me reach out to them by sending this quick one question survey to them!
Now, on to the responses....
1. We’re not good enough (mot popular!)
2. We don’t spend enough time with our spouses/partners
3. We are conflicted about our choices about work / family balance
4. We don’t recognize the person we’ve become
5. Our tape recorders are positive – they support and encourage us
6. We should be more successful in our careers
7. We should be more organized/clean
8. We should take better care of ourselves
9. We have a never-ending to-do list (and the list plays in our minds endlessly)
10. We wish we had more money
11. We feel unappreciated/un-cared for
12. We wish we had more time to nurture our interests and relationships
13. Man, we’re tired!
We believe we are not good enough
· “That I am failing both at being a mom and at being a scholar. It sucks.”
· “I should be able to manage a job and a family - other do, even those who have children with disabilities. (Actually this is not true, most parents don't and those who do find it very hard - it doesn't stop me thinking it though!)”
· “That I should be able to do it all. That I shouldn't need a house cleaner. That I should have dinner cooked every night for my family. That I need to be doing more experiment wise at work and getting results so I can get a publication and get a job in the future. Overall that I just need to do more.”
· “…Not reading enough, not exercising ever, not cooking Martha Stewart style meals.....”
· "I miss elements of my old pre-kid life - when I could selfishly focus on myself, my interests, etc.... so that voice does sometimes lament that I'm not doing ""good enough"" losing weight, running more, cooking better, etc...I wouldn't trade any of it really for my girls...but that voice does creep in sometimes"
· “Feeling like I am not doing any SINGLE task, of the MANY, successfully. From work to kids to finances to being a wife to house to garden. Not one of them is actually done right...."
· “Do more. Even when I try to take a walk for 30 minutes I feel guilty not bringing the twins with me, hence defeating the alone, recharge time.”
· “Is what I am doing good enough?”
· “I'm pretty hard on myself. I've been reading a book called Buddhism for Mothers and that's been belong a lot. But oftentimes I still feel like I'm failing at both my career and raising my kids.”
· “You need to be educating your children all the time. When the kids are awake, you owe it to them to be spending that time with them. (Thus, mommy guilt for putting them in front of the TV while I make dinner, etc.)”
· “I should be a better mom. I should be a better wife. I should be a better friend. I should be a better housekeeper. SO MUCH GUILT!”
· I should be a better wife.
· "It doesn't matter how tired you are when you get home from work, you can't just put on Sesame Street and lie on the floor while [child’s name] watches. That's not parenting."
· "Sometimes I feel I spend too much time at home doing house work and not spending time with my child.”
· You're a bad mom and a bad wife. Good moms would (insert whatever here). A good wife would (insert whatever here). You're late! You're late! Why didn't I (insert whatever here)?
· "Is my daughter eating fish sticks AGAIN today at school?"
· "I can't do this"
· “I am failing as a wife and a mother - that my boys are picking up on my stress level and acting on it.”
· I screwed up x or y parenting situation; I'm supposed to be Mom Extraordinaire, and this is my full-time job, so how could I mess that up?
· You should have a home with a backyard, a swing and a garden.
· That I am not achieving as much as I should be at home or at work. That I am failing at everything.
· “It worries if I'm doing enough for my daughter - I'm currently trying to teach her signs, shapes, colors, numbers, letters, walking, bottle extinction, etc... - This is a lot (I don't want her to fall behind other kids, but I don't want to pressure her or take away the fun - but I want to make sure I'm doing everything that every other mom is doing)! Beat yourself up b/c the laundry isn't done, but when folding laundry, beat yourself up b/c you're not paying attention to your daughter. It's hard to win sometimes. Always trying to be perfect even though I know that's unrealistic.”
We don’t spend enough time with our spouse/partner
· “That I don't have enough time to spend with my partner after work and parenting.”
· Need to take time for myself and my marriage. Haven't worked out in years. Date night means falling asleep in front of the TV together.
· “You should be married."
· “You're not spending enough time with your spouse, you're not taking care of yourself, you should be exercising, you should be grateful for this day.”
We are conflicted about work/family balance and choices
· “My husband travels frequently and works long hours - therefore I would like more "family time"
· “I am always multitasking, therefore not as present for my kids as I'd like to be. Working on it."
· “That I don't have enough time in my day for either my family or my job. I used to be the employee who stayed late every night, always went the extra mile. But, in some ways, that allows me to go home to my family now, relatively guilt free after 8 hrs. Even though it is not the same company, I feel like I did my time in the trenches, when I did not have other demands on my life. Now, I try to be as productive and focused as I can in the time that I have and then I shut down my computer and concentrate on my family.”
· “My husband says I can stay home and financially, I know I could stay home and we'd be fine so it's selfish for me to work. (And it would easier to just stay at home!).”
· "I should be a stay-at-home mom-- I am somehow not doing the best I can for our son.""
· “I am hard on myself because I really want to work...and yet I really don't want to put them in day care.”
· “I do not spend enough time with my child; will our long term bond be affected?"
· “That I should be staying home and devoting my time to my son rather than putting him in daycare (even though this would make me crazy) "I wish I was with the boys more. They see their nanny more than the see me. "
· "I wish I was with the boys more. They see their nanny more than the see me. "
· "The babysitter is a better, more fun, more engaged caregiver than I am.”
· “That I wish I could be at home part time with my son; change of career; worrying about money and that we "need" my income - being the breadwinner adds extra responsibility.”
· “What is the best future for my children? Where should they grow up, how is that possible without compromising on aspects of my life (friends, other family, career...)”
· "How can I have another child if I feel I don't even see this one as much as I want?
· “That I wish I had more time to spend with them. Staying at home is not an option but I often question whether I have made the best choice in trying to "do it all" by working and raising a family. My greatest desire is that they will know how important they are to me and that I work to provide a way of life for them and our family.
· “This is helping to teach my son to be more social through day care and he will be well adjusted later in life."
· “Am I being the best mom I can be?”
· “Am I missing out on my son’s life? How do people make a proper nutritious dinner every night?
· “If I stayed home the house/child would be better cared for and my husband would be more supported. Why am I still working?” n
· “My mom didn't return to work until I was seven.”
· “I have to remember that when I'm with my family I'm really WITH my family (e.g., not trying to check my blackberry).”
· “I need to spend more time at home, less travel for work.”
· "I wish I could spend more time with my daughter and husband.”
· "You should have a full-time job.
· “I should consider other careers or educational opportunities that might give me more time at home each week.”
· “I need to get organized and identify a way to become a successful entrepreneur so I can manage my own time and schedule and make more money.”
· “Occasionally I wonder "is there more?" But that's usually on PMS days. :) And I worked full time for several years and felt that way much more not less, so I don't think full time work helps answer that for me. I often wonder what if - but it's usually related to my career path and never about my family.”
We don’t recognize (and sometimes don’t like) the people we’ve become
· “My biggest failing as a parent is that I have turned into a yeller.”
· “…And when I think about how much of myself and my well-being I am sacrificing (I used to exercise 6 days a week, was a certified yoga teacher, used to sleep enough, I look TERRIBLE all the time, etc), I resign myself to the fact that ""It doesn't matter, I don't really count anymore."
· “I have no time to be a person; I'm drowning in this.”
· “It becomes a personal thing. I feel like a neglectful mom, nagging wife, and it makes me sad. I also become a bit resentful that my needs are not considered by others. “
· “What about me?”
· “You're missing out.”
· “You look old. Life is over.”
· “Say I love you and be supportive. Don't be a battleaxe. "
· “That I'm turning into a parody of a middle aged working mom, struggling with work-life balance, being able to shed the baby weight, and nagging my partner. “
· “That I now live for my son (and not just me)”
· “Be patient.” (I lose my cool a lot).
· “It bothers me that my patience is short and I feel as if I'm not the same person my husband married...”
My tape recorder encourages and supports me
· “…But there are also times when I feel like I am, amazingly, succeeding at both and I feel very lucky.”
· “Honestly, I’m not sure there is one. I feel pretty balanced.”
· “Can't say I have much of a little voice in my head other than echoes of my parents' sayings (positive ones from their parenting) that I have come to repeat.”
· "It is the voice of my parents' generation saying: ""You were bottle fed. You started on solid food at 4 months. You were left to cry it out, etc., etc., etc., and you turned out OK!""
· “That I can do it, and that there's only x number of days until the weekend.”
· “I also have to remind myself that I have never done this before and that I still have a very happy, gorgeous baby."
· “Look at your two little angels- picture theirs smiles- and everything worthwhile”
· “What is the worst case and is it really that bad?
· "This too will pass. “
· “Honestly, I don't have that. My recorder says--keep it healthy, there's nothing wrong with a kid being bored (doesn't last, they find something), go with the flow, these will pass (when I am impatient or frustrated that kids interrupt or hinder my work), I am modeling being a woman (to three daughters) who has interests and a life of her own (they are not the center of my universe though they are very important)...”
· “The world will not end if the floor stays dirty! Take some time for yourself!'
· “Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things? That's what I ask myself if I get stressed and usually the answer is no (luckily) because the things that would matter would be if something really bad (health wise, accident, etc) happened to one of my family members.
· That most people can't deal with one child and I have 5 under 5. If they can do it in third world countries, so can I!”
· “The kids will only be young once; grab the opportunity while I can.”
· “Tape recorder is mostly silent....”
· “That my life is challenging now but very rewarding. I can always sleep later in life.
· It'll get all get done eventually.”
· “Everything will work itself out. Your son is wonderful and he's not unhappy because you're a working mom.”
· “You can do it... you can do it... you can do it...”
· “Be patient, be kind, and get some sleep.”
· “I got rid of that a long time ago after I was diagnosed with cancer and looking into how your mental health affects your physical health. If anything, my little tape recorder tells me I'm an awesome mom, I'm incredibly thankful to have the most amazing child on earth, I love myself the way I am, everything is perfect for a reason, etc.”
· “Things will get better”
· “I am my own harshest critic, so I know very well where I fall short; however, I let the things go that I have no control over. Traffic is terrible and I'll be late for work? LET IT GO.”
· “Why are you always running and rushing? SLOW down.”
· “It always reminds me to stop and take in this moment right now. Sometimes I'm so busy keeping everything together that I miss the everyday joys of life.”
· “I am happy with myself and life/work balance now. But, as I said, it was hard during the first year. I am well-aware about the parenting policies in other countries, both developed and developing, and know that mothers shouldn't be blaming themselves. I went through the period when I felt bad as a wife because my husband does so much but now I fully take it as an achievement (I married him, right?)”
· “That I should be easier on myself and not get stressed if I don't take care of every little thing. That sometimes my systems will fail and it is ok.”
· "I have three kids - a teenager and two young children. I am constantly replaying the mistakes with my oldest and learning from it now that I know what is coming up for my younger ones. I keep in check my expectations, I don't rush my younger kids to act so much older than they are, I stick to my gut instincts on their technology access requests and I slow down the quality time.
· “Is there really such thing as the perfect job where you get to work the hours you want and make the money you need? Not really..... So if you love your job, just work out the logistics the best you can.”
· My family will be with me long after this job.
We believe we should be more successful in our careers
· “At work, I don't do anything extra--I get my work done quickly, efficiently, but never stay extra. I don't think anyone cares, but I feel like I should to show I care about my job."
· “Why aren't you more successful by now?”
· “Why can't you get a promotion?"
· "Does my boss feel that I've changed as an employee?"
· “I should have held out for the job I really wanted instead of jumping on the first offer I got. When I interviewed for my next job, I was 5 months pregnant and my temporary job was set to end around month 7. I can't say I would have made a different decision if I had not been pregnant, but having a kid on the way definitely put some pressure on to get that aspect of my life settled.”
· "For someone with your experience, you should be making more money. What's wrong with you?"
· “My kid watches too much Mickey mouse. I don't feel like I'm accomplishing what I wanted to in my job fast enough. How am I going to manage 2 [children?]?”
· “Not making enough new and innovative artwork. Not keeping up with my career.”
· “A good job will fix everything. What's wrong with me that I can’t get a job?”
· “I'm always wondering if I've made the right choices; I envy friends who outwardly appear to have had more professional success, but at the same time I go to bed each night wondering if I've given my kids all the attention they need.”
· “The business should be further along; I should be making more money, have more clients...
· You could be way ahead at work in terms of position if you only worked "more" (whatever that "more" is...) I frequently have other women (who are not family based, childless, or career moms) tell me that I could be more successful if I only committed more time at work. That kills:(
· “Is part time work really the best option for my future career? Or, should I go back to school”
I should be more organized
· "This house is a mess! How can you live like such a slob?"
· “That I should be tidier, more organized, more prepared for all eventualities, etc. This is pretty silly though, because I am a mom of one-year-old twins and am actually a really organized person.”
· "I need a maid. Oh wait, I am the maid.”
· “I am so sick of cleaning up after everyone; I feel like I'm the only one who even tries to manage the house.”
· “I don't do anything; I don't play enough with the kids because I'm trying to do house stuff, and even then, it's always a disaster.”
· "I need to be more efficient and organized... Other moms can find time to cook, clean, work fulltime, tend to their kids, work out every day, and do it all... I shouldn't be so exhausted from juggling all this- being this tired is a shortcoming on my part.... “
· "The house is too much work - you're trapped!”
· "The house is always needs cleaning.”
· “..Not organized enough in terms of our family paperwork and house.”
· “Need to purge more from our closets.”
I should be taking better care of myself
· "You need to take better care of yourself, so you have more energy.”
· "Physical Fitness. I used to run a few marathons a year... now I bearly get to the gym.
· “Sleep more, take better care of yourself, and stop yelling so much at the kids!”
· “The little tape player gets on me for not having lost all the baby weight and its now over a year.”
· “I need to take better care of myself to set a good example for my kids and be more content with life.”
· “I need to lose the baby weight, it has been 6 months!!”
· “Cooking - I don't have any time to exercise and have fallen out of shape.”
· “Work out work out workout…”
· “It plays on high volume "you really need to lose some weight...why can't you motivate to exercise more?" I was really active pre-baby and can't seem to get into a good routine again. I also feel a lot of guilt...both that I'm not working hard enough at my job (see above: leaving early) and that I'm not home enough with my baby. I'm doing pretty well, I think, but the tape recorder plays guilt messages over and over.”
We have never-ending to-do lists
· “It replays how much is on my to do list. I am constantly having to plan my next move and try to stay ahead of myself - groceries, laundry, planning meals, packing lunches, cleaning the house, etc. I make tons of lists so I am always hard on myself if the list doesn't get done in a reasonable amount of time.”
· “I need to do this.....I need to do that.......”
· “The list of things I need and want to do!”
· “The little voice in my head won't shut up about every detail in our lives -I am constantly thinking about this play-date or that gallon of milk etc. -- I wish I could just quiet it sometimes.”
· "I just need to finish x, y, z. Then I can relax." But there is always another x, y, z, every day.”
· “Always go, go, go. Need to take more time to relax and enjoy life.”
· “It focuses on the long to do list and applies pressure to get more done (and then more done, and then more done) - it's never satisfied.”
· “I didn't do enough today.”
· “[I need to] send bills or mail off to people.”
· “[I should be] sending thank you cards more often.
· “Maybe we'll do Christmas Cards this Year.”
We wish we had more time to nurture our interests and relationships
· “I wish I could spend more time doing things I enjoy individually.”
· “I wish I could spend more time involving myself in the community."
· “I feel like I'm falling short on all the extra-curricular stuff I used to do in the community. Also I do not keep up on friendships or reach out to people like I used to.”
· "If I did not have a child I could do more, better with friends, husband and work.”
· “Not enough time for myself “
· “Mostly it tells me I'm selfish if I take time for myself.”
· “I wish I had time to run and do yoga. Wish I had time to read a book. Wish I had time to update the baby book.”
· "I'm so behind on volunteering." Because my job isn't something I'm passionate about, I stay sane by volunteering in my community and serving on the board of an international nonprofit. I barely have time/energy for it anymore and I feel like I'm really letting down people/causes that I care about. At the same time, I feel incredibly lucky that this is my biggest worry. :)
· “Mainly: I don't deserve time for myself or to put myself first until I manage to take care of all of my other responsibilities first (which is an endless feat).”
Man, we’re tired
· “I am so tired and I am so lonely.”
· “We never get enough sleep (4-5 hours/night).
· "I'm tired!
· “That I'm tired and why can't I focus on my son more when I am home with him, and why does he make me so tired in a few hours, where I can be so successful at work all day!”
We wish we had more money.
· “Go to work and pay the mortgage. Your kid doesn't want to be homeless.”
· “I wish we could save more - should I go back full time and give up my day home with our kid to earn an extra $5-6K a year?”
We feel unappreciated/un-cared for
· “Husband is lazy, he doesn't care. (Ouch!)”
· "Nobody understands how hard I work, and nobody appreciates what I do.
Six months ago I took some time off from blogging to take care of my newborn twins and toddler. My expectation was that the girls would be sleeping through the night by now. Well, that isn’t quite true yet -- but I’m optimistic!! So, still slightly sleep deprived, here I am, excited to be in communication with all of you.
Being a mom of multiples and a toddler, and ramping up my coaching and consulting practice, all at once, has been intense to say the least. But I set up my business as an expression of who I am and what I want to contribute. I can say with all honesty that I’ve become one of those really busy, fulfilled and happy people, and I am all about helping other busy parents – especially those with multiples, feel like they’re in the groove and on the right path – not just surviving.
What most excites me about getting back to my blog is the chance to get back to sharing the Making It Work Survey results. Many of you took this survey and your honesty and wisdom has inspired me for the last half year. I know all of you will be similarly impacted.
This week and next I’ll be writing about your answers to the survey question, “What does the little tape recorder in your head always re-play?” Here’s a sneak preview- all of your honest, thoughtful answers fell into the following categories:
1. I’m not good enough (mot popular!)
2. I don’t spend enough time with my spouse/partner
3. I am conflicted about my choices about work / family balance
4. I don’t recognize the person I’ve become (and I’m not sure I like her)
5. My tape recorder is positive – it supports and encourages me
6. I should be more successful in my career
7. I should be more organized/clean
8. I should take better care of myself
9. I have a never-ending to-do list (and the list plays in my mind endlessly!)
10. I wish I had more money/
11. I feel unappreciated/un-cared for
12. I wish I had more time to nurture myself, interests and relationships
13. Man, I’m tired!
Do these sound familiar? That’s good, because my intention is to form a community through this blog of people who having common experiences and who could benefit from each other’s strategies and wisdom. So, the first step is to share your experiences – then we’ll get on to your strategies. Please feel encouraged to comment and ask questions as we go!
And, I’m dying to know how the men in our lives will answer this question, so look out for a series of short-surveys that you can give to your husbands and other men in your lives. Stay tuned…
I just listened to this Sheryl Sandberg talk from Ted Talks. Ms. Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, lays out three behaviors women must take on to successfully raise to leadership ranks in their careers:
1. Stay at the Table
2. Make your partner a real partner and
3. Don’t leave before you leave
Sheryl Sandberg’s Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders (Ted Talks)
I recommend it for food for thought. Her thesis is that the world would be a better place with more equal representation of women in the highest levels of leadership. She notes extreme under-representation in every sector - government and political leadership, corporations and nonprofits. She does a great job explaining barriers and providing general insight into how women might overcome these barriers. Her explanations are note the usual ones - they are honest and forthright, allowing for more complexity than I normally hear.
Stay at the table is about how women shy away from center stage and are more likely to doubt their own capabilities DESPITE evidence that women are largely better prepared and more competent. Women are more likely to attribute their success to others and/or luck, whereas men are more likely to take credit for their own success. A driving reason for this, she asserts, is that women who too aggressively seek carer advancement are typically seen as unlikeable when the same traits in men are seen as likable.
Ms. Sandberg advises women to stand out and advance, despite the subtle social pressures not to. I believe that until this culture changes, few women will be willing to do this. In my opinion, women have, and will make more progress in leadership of organizations by starting their own businesses and organizations. So, if you’re watching the video and you feel unwilling to take the steps she outlines, consider entrepreneurship an alternative path.
I also believe that women also need a set of sponsors and hard-nosed advisers who won’t let them compromise their careers. Often women pass up opportunities and need someone to give them a little kick and say, “What are you thinking! Go for it! You can do it!” This is the concept behind Conspire Leadership Coaching Circles.
Make your partner a real partner speaks to data that show that women who work full time typically do much more house-cleaning and child care than their male partners. I believe that having a strong community of partners is also key - people in your life who can help your family in a bind, who are invested in the well-being and success of your career and your family. To create a better world, we all need to get better and building interdependence and communitarian behavior so it is possible for every individual to follow their professional calling.
Don’t leave before you leave is an important message about about pulling back from career progression way before being pregnant. She advises the opposite - move up as high as you can in your career until just before you have a baby. In other words, don’t kill your career before it’s started.
In my coaching practice, I’ve witnessed young women beginning to pull back without even the prospect of having a baby in the near future, in preparation for that time. The key is that if you are a valued employee that has established competence and results, your employer is much more likely to accommodate your needs when you do have a family.
Please take a moment to watch Ms. Sandberg’s talk.
And, if you’re interested in harnassing the power of other women to breakthrough to higher levels in your career, consider joining a coaching circle or engaging in one to one coaching.
Women tend to be relatively successful in developing mentoring and peer networks throughout their careers. Recently, the coaching field is taking note that women are less successful in developing sponsor relationships than men. The impact? Women continue to stagnate in lower levels of management and settle for lower compensation. Sponsors, unlike mentors, do more than advise and support – they take action and risks to actively promote your career and open doors for you. Here’s some advice and some references to good articles on finding a sponsor:
1. Identify influential people who can open doors for you.
2. Develop a strategy for making yourself and your abilities known to these influential people.
3. Slowly, and respectfully, implement a thoughtful strategy that adds-value as attracts sponsorship. This includes leveraging your peer networks and converting existing mentoring relationships into sponsoring relationships.
4. Know when to ask for active sponsorship, and ask for it.
5. Be grateful and find ways to make the sponsor’s risk worth it.
Here are some recent, very good articles on this topic:
Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women – Herminia Ibarra, Nancy M. Carter, and Christine Silva, Harvard Business Review
The Sponsor Effect: Why Qualified Women Don't Make it to The Corner Office
Mentors vs Sponsors – They are different and why you need BOTH
At Conspire Coaching and Consulting, we train women to seek out Sponsor relationships that make such a dramatic difference in one’s leadership and earnings potential. Email email@example.com to get started!
Thanks to all of you who took the time to comment on my blog, respond by email or on Facebook and Twitter. It’s great to know there is a lot of interest in this topic and I look forward to exploring it with you further.
I thought I’d take a look at the relationship between the level of financial contribution the mom provides and her overall satisfaction. Your answers broke down this way, ranked in order of satisfaction from highest to lowest:
40% of women who stated that they and their partners contributed to household income equally (or near equally) rated their satisfaction as “4” or “5” – (scale of 1-5, 5 being highest). The average satisfaction for this group was 3.3.
- 29% of women who stated that their partners were the primary breadwinners rated their satisfaction as “4” or “5.” The average satisfaction for this group was 3.1.
- 24% of women who stated that they were the primary breadwinner rated their satisfaction as “4” or “5”. The average satisfaction for this group was 3.
So here are some questions we can discuss:
- Is there a real difference between an average satisfaction of 3.3 and 3?
- Can we infer from the higher satisfaction of those who contribute equally to the household income that there is overall higher satisfaction when there is a sense of equality in the family? Do equal income contribution also play out in equal parenting and household responsibilities? (I have this data and can find out!)
- Is there something going on that fewer women expressed high levels of satisfaction who were the primary breadwinners? Is there pressure on this person that feels to weighty? Do you think we'd find something similar for men who are the primary breadwinners?
By the way, if there’s a statistician out there who can help with statistic significance, let me know! Otherwise, I’m just going to present the findings using averages and other math that I learned before grad school. I could crack open that stats book, but, well, I’m not going to.
The next blog will be about specific strategies that moms who work full time out of the home, who rate themselves as highly satisfied, use to make it all work. If you haven't taken the survey, and want to contribute your strategies to this blog, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or take a moment to complete the survey!
What a pleasure it’s been to read your survey responses. 115 amazing moms responded – and the collective wisdom of this virtual group is incredible and inspiring. I am so excited to share some of the strategies and findings and to follow up with many of you to learn more about your stories.
I thought your self-assessments of "satisfaction" were particularly interesting.
The most satisfied sub-group within the survey group was women working part-time. 82% of the part-time working respondents rated their satisfaction with their work-life balance to be either a “4” or “5.” My initial assessment is that the most satisfied in this group had managed to do part time work that they truly love and identify with, enabling them to both nurture an important part of themselves and contribute to the family income, while also feeling like they were spending an adequate amount of time with their children. So as not to idealize this group, many also expressed that part time arrangements can also leave them feeling as though they are not giving their all to anything -- though this was pretty common across all groups.
The least satisfied group was women working full-time working moms – 33%. This is not to say that there weren’t some very satisfied people in this group- 33% is a pretty high number. I think it’s great news that so many women feel satisfied no matter what their arrangement is. And I think we all know that this satisfaction is highly dependent on individual personalities and family arrangements. These satisfied working moms have some great strategies and I look forward to sharing them with you. Stay tuned!
I’m interested in your reactions to these initial results – please share them. Have a great weekend, inspiring mamas. I’ll be thinking about all of you and your responses for many weeks to come.
Life sometimes throws us big surprises that help to clarify priorities and next steps.
We're expecting twins in October!
This means that our family is in serious strategy mode. What does three children under the age of two mean for how we manage our family? How will it affect our careers? How can I possibly launch a new coaching practice? How on earth do you take care of three babies?
I have chosen to see this turn of events as an opportunity to really investigate how families priortize and make strategic decisions about succeeding in their careers and at home. I am setting out on a benchmarking project to research families, women in particular, who have navigated these waters and uncovered some best practices. I will share my research with you via this blog as it unfolds.
If you and your family have had to work out arrangements that work for your family and your careers, I would be extremely grateful if you could take this brief survey. My intention is that it should be as clarifying for you as it will be useful to me. It is also completely anonymous. If you indicate that you would be interested and provide your contact details, I may follow up with you to request an interview you so I can get to know your story even better.
We conspire with mission-driven women to lead, succeed and thrive in their careers, lives and organizations.
Individuals: We envision women who are enlivened, empowered and emerged. Our members have clarity of purpose and lead from strengths.
Community: We bring communities of women into the practice of seeing each other's strengths and potential. We envision multiplying communities of women-fueling-women's success and impact.
World: We conspire to unlock the potential energy & contributions of 51% of the human population. When this potential energy, thought power, and talent is unleashed, we will solve even the most difficult problems and transform the world.