Friday, November 30, 2007

Job Board for Moms

I learned about a new job board with opportunities specifically for moms looking for flexible or work-at-home work. It is new- I don't think that there are any live postings yet- but it is open for applicants to register. The website is and was started by a mom who wanted to provide a resource for moms who want to work, but do not want to return to an inflexible workplace. I think it would be worthwhile to register on the site if you are searching for a new opportunity. I would assume that as more applicants are registered- the site will be able to attract more job opportunities.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How to Transition Back to Work After Maternity Leave

Today I am sharing some advice with you from Working Mothers’ Coach Amber Rosenberg (Learn more about Amber at the end of this post).

If you're like many of my clients who return to work after maternity leave, you may view your job as a welcome vacation from the exhausting responsibilities of caring for a newborn. Oh, the irony. However, as you prepare to go back to work, you may unexpectedly be faced with a whole new set of challenges, including growing feelings of anxiety and guilt about not staying home with your child. Here are a few ideas to help you through this process:

Plan Your Plan Carefully select the best back-to-work date for you and your family. Try to anticipate how much time you'll need (and how much time you'll get) as best as you can. Review your employer's maternity leave policy and talk with other working mothers in your field. Work with your husband/partner to assess your personal financial situation to determine when and how (part-time, flex schedule, etc.) you'll return to work. Also, be sure to review your Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) eligibility. As you start to explore these questions, you may also find it helpful to create a work-plan for you and your growing family that outlines what your weekly schedule will look like.

Partner with Your Partner Talk to your husband/partner about your plan and make sure you're both on the same page. You'll strengthen your relationship, save time and energy and build the support you'll need throughout this transition. You might be surprised to find that your partner shares similar feelings about his or her return to work. Talk with your partner about what is going to work best for the family, as a whole. Remember that perfect options don't exist. There will be sacrifices by both parents. Money, time, convenience and fast-paced career growth are among the biggest things that may change. The best option will include sacrifices with which you both can live. By engaging in honest, ongoing communication with your partner/husband, you'll be able to successfully manage this transition together.

Communicate at Work Too Not everyone has the luxury of working with colleagues who are familiar with the challenges of returning to work after maternity leave. Talk regularly with your supervisor and/or your staff about your schedule, priorities and options. Only you know what you need to balance your roles as mom and professional, so speak up.

No Woman is an Island - Delegate! One of the secrets to success as a working mom is learning how to delegate to other staff, your husband/partner, your family, etc. If you're overwhelmed with work, take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself some honest questions. What do you absolutely need to do right now? What can you postpone, delegate or say "no" to? On the personal front, hiring a cleaning person one day a week may be all it takes to make you feel in control of your home life again. Maybe it's time for him to start ironing his own shirts or for your older children to start doing the dishes. Spread the workload around a little -small changes can make a big difference.

Find Comfort in Childcare The more comfortable you are with your childcare situation, the easier it will be for you to focus on work. Set-up a trial run with your daycare for a week before you return to work to prevent any last minute surprises about reliability, scheduling, pick-up/drop-off, etc.

Breast-pumps and Boardrooms Some larger family-friendly companies now have special rooms devoted to pumping, called lactation stations. If your company doesn't have such a room, set-up a daily pumping schedule where you can shut your office door (or use someone else's office when they're in meetings). Cover the windows, lock the door and put a note on the door as to when you'll be done. Make sure you've got refrigeration available (if needed) and consider how convenient your clothing is to workday pumping. Pumping at the office can be a hassle but it gives you the freedom to continue nursing for as long as you choose. As an added bonus, if you're missing your baby, stressed, or feeling guilty, you may find that the oxytocin and endorphins released through the pumping will help alleviate some of these feelings.

Expect to Feel Guilty When you're working a lot of hours and away from your child for long periods of time, you may be consumed with feelings of guilt. You may also feel guilty for leaving your child to go to work, guilty that going to work sometimes feels like a welcome break from your child or guilty when you have to leave work early. Guilt is a given. I work with my clients to help them manage this guilt (see the last ezine article on how to manage guilt). You can't control guilt but you can choose what you want to do about it.

Learn How to Compartmentalize As we already established, when you're at work, you may feel guilty. Then, when you're with your child, you may find that you're easily distracted by thoughts of work, household chores or a million little tasks that need attention. Do your best to be in the moment. If you're able to be fully present when spending time with your child, you'll feel less guilty when you're not with them. Easier said than done, right? Read my upcoming article for tricks on how to become more present and focused when spending quality time with your baby.

Set a Trial Period Allow yourself a ninety-day trial period to see how your new weekly schedule works for you and your family. Once you're through this trial period, assess how it's working and change your schedule accordingly. Also, as your child grows and develops, you may need to continue to tweak your schedule.

Keep it in Perspective At the end of the day, all of this careful planning can't account for emotions. During the post-partum period, your hormones are in huge flux and if you find yourself in tears the first day back at work, remember that you're not alone and there's no need to beat yourself up about it. The good news is, research shows that if you have an enjoyable job that inspires and motivates you, it's beneficial for your health and for the health of your child. So, hang in there, give yourself a break and remember that by taking care of yourself, you're taking care of your baby.


Amber Rosenberg is a professional life coach who helps high-achieving working mothers manage guilt and stress and re-define success on their own terms. After 12 years struggling to create her own work/life balance in the corporate and non-profit worlds, she is passionate about helping women actively choose how they want to spend their time. A popular speaker and frequently interviewed for national print, TV and radio media outlets, Amber co-authored the book Inspiration to Realization with a chapter on “How to Manage Your Love/Hate Relationship with Time”. To sign-up for a complimentary coaching consultation, to order a signed copy of her book or to sign-up for the Working Mothers' FREE monthly e-zine, go to

Friday, November 23, 2007

Will Laws Help?

I firmly believe the way to create change in the working world is for parents to begin demanding the work flexibility and support they need. In my opinion, as parents begin demanding flexibility, companies will start providing it in order to attract and retain a talented workforce. Further, as companies see the pay-off in increased worker loyalty and productivity, they will begin to expand the options to all workers.

However, I do acknowledge the role that our legislative system may play in advancing the cause of working parents. In fact, I am beginning to believe that some appropriate legislation may be the push employers need to start offering flexibility. For example, the UK’s workplace flexibility law, passed in 2003, has started to see some positive effects. The law requires flexibility options for certain workers with children under the age of six, and the law was extended for those who care for elders in 2006. The law may also be expanded to include more parents as companies have begun to realize the benefits of providing flexible work (see article here). Interestingly, support for the law is one of the few things their two major political parties agree upon.

There are several grassroots groups pushing for work/family legislation such as Efforts by this and other groups may be starting to pay off as individual states push through laws that benefit working parents. California and other states have already extended parental leave laws, and Indiana is considering offering tax benefits for companies that provide child care and also a bill that provides paid leave for parents attending school conferences (see article here).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Research Supports Telecommuting

A study recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found support for the benefits of telecommuting. The study pulled together the results of 46 independent studies examinng telecommuting (find a summary of the research on ScienceDaily here).

According to the author of the study:
"Autonomy is a major factor in worker satisfaction and this rings true in our analysis. We found that telecommuters reported more job satisfaction, less motivation to leave the company, less stress, improved work-family balance, and higher performance ratings by supervisors."

The study provides evidence to support what those that telecommute already know: telecommuting is a win-win work arrangement. The employee benefits from the flexibility that the arrangement allows, and the employer benefits by having a dedicated, high performing worker.

The study reported few negative aspects of telecommuting, and those that do exist can be eliminated by setting some guidelines and taking appropriate actions to avoid problems. For example, the study found some challenges in work relationships for telecommuters who worked from home for 3 or more full days each week. However, work relationships with a telecommuter's boss and/or coworkers can be maintained with some specific efforts such as regular communication and productive in person meetings.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Motherhood or Career

It seems that the feminist revolution missed something along the way. Here we are in 2007 and women are still discussing the choice between career or motherhood. While some women have managed to do both successfully, most research suggests that there is a "motherhood penalty" whether it is in career opportunities or in long-term salary earnings. (See article in the Mercury News that shares some statistics on this).

Why do men earn more over their lifetime if they have children, while women earn less? As the Mercur News article discusses, often women are forced to try to make their family decisions based on when it will have the least impact on their careers. This often leads to women waiting until their 40's to have children, when then creates a challenge against biology.

Instead of debating the right timing of parenthood, perhaps a more productive discussion is the one on why the world we live in forces us into this debate. When as a society are we going to step up and say that employers and our government need to provide support to parents, particularly moms, who want to raise a family and have a career? It can happen. All we need is some workplace flexibilty, quality childcare, and support and encouragement in the workplace. If the right supports were in place, women would not have to choose between motherhood and career.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bringing Baby to Work

Allowing new moms to bring the baby to work is a growing trend, particularly in small firms. The Boston Globe recently ran a story featuring a few firms that do offer this option (see here). There are many pros and cons to allowing babies to come to work, and it certainly won't work out in all kinds of companies. But, kudos to those companies that can make it work.

The Boston Globe article also mentions some companies that allow parents to bring their kids to work on an occasional basis. If school is closed or a nanny calls off at the last minute, parents are often stuck in a dliemma where their only option is to take the day off. A company policy that allows the child to tag along with mom or dad for a day can take some stress off parents and also reduce unnecessary absences. An older child can be set-up in a conference room to do homework or watch a video. A toddler can find some amusement playing on the floor by mom or dad's desk.

Obviously a parent won't be as productive with a chlid along at work, but they will be more productive than if they stayed home. And of course, such a policy won't work in every company. But, a few enlightened companies that allow an occasional child in the office create a step in the direction of a world where family friendly work exists.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ultimate Working Mom

I am in the middle of reading "Fair Game" by Valerie Plame Wilson. I assume most know who Valerie Wilson is, but in case you are a busy working parent who has missed the news in the past few years, Ms. Wilson is the former undercover CIA agent who had her identity exposed in what appears to have been a case of political revenge (learn more about the case here).

It is a fascinating read, giving a you a window into the life of a covert CIA agent. But, even more interesting to me is that in addition to her life as a CIA agent, Valerie Wilson is also a working mom. In fact, her twins were just toddlers as she lived through this very public scandal.

In addition to the typical working mom worries of finding suitable childcare and keeping your life in balance, can you imagine adding international undercover travel to your worries? Or threats to your life or the safety of your home because of a political scandal?
Ms. Wilson became a mom after almost 20 years in the CIA. She chose to continue her career after an extra long maternity leave (it isn't exact in her book- many parts of her book relative to dates were blacked out by the CIA- but it looks like she took about a year). Further, she was able to negotiate a part-time arrangement so that she could continue her career without the extensive travel and long work hours she had prior to becoming a mom.
I find her story engaging and inspiring so far....will let you know as I read further.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Doing it All

I have had several friends comment to me how they are impressed with how I do it all. Many of my friends, particularly those who are at home full-time or do not have kids, think that I have some super abilities in order to manage my kids, my work and my home.

What all working moms know, however, is that we don't really do it all. Or, at least, we don't do it all well. I have commented several times about the lack of cleanliness around my house. Some don't believe me as I typically work hard to clean up this disaster area before guests arrive.

But, my real secret is that I am slowly losing my mind. Or, at least my memory. As I type this I have no idea where my keys are. My keys, that I need to drive my car, get into my office and my house. I have also wasted about an hour of my day today so far looking for them. And this is not the first time I lost or forgotten something important. I have spent weeks looking for lost papers, or clothes. I can't tell you how many times I have forgotten if I have or haven't washed my hair yet during a shower (I always just give it a second wash, just in case).

And so, one of the things you must accept if you are going to be a working parent, is dimenishing memory. That is O.K. though. Sometimes when I am away from home for a busy day, I don't remember how dirty my house is and I can pretend that I am a busy working mom that is doing it all.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Companies Still Don't Get It

A recent survey from by shows a disconnect still exists between employees’ desire for flexible work and the priority that companies place on offering such options. The Work/Life Balance survey (read article here) found that 89 percent of the employees surveyed believe work/life initiatives are important offerings to consider in the job search, while only about half of the Human Resource professionals surveyed consider work/life initiatives important. Further only 29 percent of employees viewed their current company’s work/life offerings as good or excellent.

Why don’t companies know what employees want? Part of the problem is that few companies take the time to collect information from their employees on their satisfaction with company benefits. Further, employees are clearly not vocalizing their needs. I wonder how many employees that responded to the Monster survey have asked their employer for a flexible work option? My guess is not many.

Companies are not going to invest the time and effort into developing work/life initiatives until they see the bottom line value in doing so. When companies start losing employees and having difficulty recruiting talent to fill those openings, they might start considering ways to improve retention.

If you truly want flexibility in your work, and are considering leaving your current employer to find it, help your company out and ask them about flexibility. In fact, build a strong business case for a more flexible schedule and then demand it. Once more employees step up and ask for what they want; we will start seeing a shift in the work/life options that companies offer.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Creative Work Options

Many parents decide to go out on their own and start a new business in order to create a family friendly work arrangement. Often a simple idea can allow you to create an opportunity to earn money, but on your own schedule. One area that offers a lot of opportunities is to start a business offering services to others.

For example, the host of a local talk show told me about a friend of hers that started a business selling bagels and muffins at local office buildings. In the mornings she would pick them up from the bakery and leave them in baskets at certain office buildings. She relied on the honor system, allowing patrons to drop money into a jar. She would later pick up the leftovers and collect her earnings.

Another mom I heard about started a concierge service, targeting other working moms. She ran errands, picking up dry cleaning or dropping of a car for service. Often, she organized her own personal errands around her clients' so she was essentially paid for running errands she needed to run anyway. Another mom started a home organizing service. She goes into your home and organizes closets, work spaces, pantries, and storage areas.

These are some examples of some fairly simple ideas that can turn into very successful businesses. One of the key advantages of starting a business that offers a service is that there are little start-up costs. The biggest challenge and expense is marketing your services. However, with some planning and creativity, you can market your services cost-effectively and get your business off to a solid start. Here are some ideas:

- Write a press release about your business to send to the local media.
- Donate a service to a local fundraiser to use as a prize.
- Send an e-mail message announcing your service to your friends and family, ask them to share it with their friends and family.
- Look for local bulletin boards to post a flyer (coffee shops, libraries).
- Offer a workshop related to your service at a local venue such as your library or community center.

If you have a unique idea, and you are willing to put in the time and effort to market your idea, you can start your own service business and be on your way to family friendly work.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


If you are a working parent, you know you can find more time for your kids by outsourcing chores around the house such as cleaning and cutting the grass. But some parents are finding more time by outsourcing some of the less desirable parenting jobs.

An article in the Chicago Sun-Times (here), tells of the availability of consulting services that you can use to take over such parenting headaches as potty training, getting your baby to sleep through the night or helping you manage other behavioral problems.

While I don't think we should give up our responsibiity as parents, if there are some non-essential parenting duties that I can get help with, I am all for it. Potty training for instance. I would have loved to be able to take my kids to a day long class and come home to a diaperless world! I only have 2 kids, and learning how to potty train them is a skill that I will never need again. I didn't enjoy it, in fact, I found it very exhausting and time consuming.

Call me a slacker, but if I can outsource a duty I don't enjoy and save myself some valuable time that I can use to do something fun with my kids, then I think it is a good idea.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Family Friendly Culture

When I talk about family friendly work, I often get hung up on talking about flexible work options. For most, the ability to have some flexibility is the key to family friendly work.

However, the nature of the actual work environment often is more important than flexibility of schedule. I have talked to many parents who tell me that they are not comfortable even talking about their kids at work. Admitting you have children in some companies can become a barrier to career advancement. You are not in a family friendly environment if you feel that you need to claim you are sick to get a day off instead of letting your boss know you have a sick kid.

Beyond the attitudes of company leaders toward families, companies can also create a family friendly work environment by offering benefits that support you and your family. Examples include comprehensive health care coverage, paid sick time, family leave beyond the legal requirements, and childcare support.

If you are looking for family friendly work, it is essential that you make efforts to find out what the work environemnet is really like. Even little things, such as children's artwork proudly displayed around the office, can help you find out if a company is family friendly. You should thoroughly check out benefit options and look for opportunities to talk casually with as many peers as possible. Create a checklist of what you think is important for you and your family, and stick to it.