Recently I had the awesome opportunity to speak with Portia Jackson over at Working Motherhood. We had a great conversation and I wanted to share that with you. You can hear the full interview over on her site.
The interview began with Portia asking me a little about myself. It was like that horrible interview question except asked by a friend so it seemed a lot less scary.
Being a working mom is something very important to me. I want to show my daughter and son that women can be successful on many fronts. And since my husband and I both work, we share household responsibilities also showing my kids that men can cook or change diapers and be successful at many different things. My husband is a great cook. He does all the grocery shopping in our house and cooks most of the meals, with the exception of Thanksgiving, that’s all mine. (Every other day of the year my idea of cooking is store bought with something sprinkled on top. Portia and I were totally on the same page with that one.)
The first topic of conversation was a quote or mantra that helped me as a working mom, which I appreciate since so often working moms are seen as harried or in the midst of chaos. We can be successful and pulled together.
One of the rules I try to live by is to focus on the positive. My mantra is “What you think about you bring about.” This really hit home for me when I got my current job. It was more than just getting a job though, it was everything that led up to it.
When I was out of work I read What Color is Your Parachute. (I recommend this book to everyone even if you are not looking for a new job. It can help you if you are just looking to find your passion. By the way, that is an affiliate link, buying the book doesn’t cost you anymore and helps me a smidge.) That book really helped me focus on what I wanted out of my next job.
I had just come out of two jobs in a row that were less than stellar for different reasons and I wanted to be very intentionally with my next job. I wrote down exactly what I wanted from my next job, from what kind of work I would be doing (something meaningful that wasn’t busy work), how the office would look (professional, clean. I worked in an office that was connected to a warehouse where everything was grey and dirty), where it would be located (near shopping and places to eat with grass and trees around. My previous warehouse job had nothing but gray asphalt around and low gray buildings), and what kind people I would be working with (friendly, professional, dedicated, focused on doing good work). My next job fulfilled everything on that list. I am a big believer in the power of thinking. What you think about you bring about. If you focus on all the things you are trying to avoid, you are going to have to avoid them because they will come up. Focus instead on how you want things to be, the positive. It’s as simple as changing “I don’t want to be broke” to “I want to be rich” if that’s what you want.
Being a working mom does have it’s challenges. It is basically two full time jobs! Portia asked me about a challenging time and how I overcame those challenges.
When I first became a mom, I discovered I was pregnant and promoted within days of each other. Two big life events. I worked for Dish Network as a Marketing Specialist, helping the retailers who sold Dish to grow their business. My boss has been promoted and I wanted his old job as Business Development Manager. The promotion was something I had wanted for awhile but it came with longer hours and more travel. Being a manager meant staying at work until 6 instead of 5. Being a business development manager meant taking trips to find new prospective retailers. This was a new responsibility that I hadn’t had as a marketing specialist.
I had 8 months in the job to get ready and acclimatize to the changes and it seemed to be working just fine, once the morning sickness passed. (Morning sickness is bad enough, but traveling with morning sickness is even worse.) When I came back from maternity leave it was like everything had changed. My priorities had totally shifted. You can tell a mom-to-be about it but it isn’t real until you experience it. I no longer wanted to leave the house at 7 in the morning and get home at 6:30 at night. I wanted to be with my daughter more than that. I didn’t mind leaving her for a little while but not for nearly 12 hours! That first year was horrible. I cried in my office while I pumped. I am fortunate to have my mother close by to watch my children, but I called her everyday because I was sure I would miss all the cute things and firsts and bonding with my daughter.
When my daughter was about 9 months old, the travel was getting more and more frequent and for me enough was enough. I started looking for a new job. It took me a few months but I finally found a new job. But in my haste to get out of the job at Dish, I didn’t properly ensure the new job would be a good fit and it didn’t end up lasting too long. And when I made that list of wants for my ideal job, I took all that I learned that I didn’t like from my last two jobs and put the opposite onto my list. I didn’t write “not a long commute” or “no warehouses.” I wrote the positives of those like short commute, or commute under 30 minutes, office with grass and trees around.
Now I work in a professional office building with tons of trees around, I have a bigger office with new, clean furniture. My commute is only 25 minutes and I don’t have to start until 8:30 which means I can leave my house an entire hour earlier. I was leaving before my daughter even woke up. Now I can get my kids up and spend some time with them in mornings.
And in staying with the positive, we talked about a time when I was really doing great at both my job and being and mom. Fortunately for me, that time is right now!
In my new role I don’t feel pressured to stay after 5 o’clock, everyone leaves at five, even the CEO. I have more time with my family. I have the flexibility to take time off for school programs. And when I became pregnant with my son while at this job, that’s when I realized that I am in my groove so to speak. Before I left on maternity leave I worked really well with my boss to prepare. I had everything really organized and some projects that would be due while I was out, I finished early. My manager and I have a very good working relationship. I feel that I am able to be a good wife and mother and a productive worker, contributing to the overall business. And that last thing is something I rarely felt before. Now I get my work done and I go home. While my house is never ready or a magazine shoot or anything, but I keep things going pretty smoothly.
I am trying to enjoy the little moments with my kids while they are young, knowing they pass so quickly and you never get a second chance at them. I am making my family a priority and trying not to keep my work duties in perspective. I’m at a point in my life where I’m really happy with where I’m at. So often you hear career advice about keeping your eyes open for the next position, the next move on the career ladder whether it be up or lateral. But I think its okay to like right where you are at. Working moms have two full time jobs. Trying to advance your career while caring for small children is hard and working moms need to hear that it’s okay to not try for that promotion that will mean more responsibility. I have quite enough responsibility as it is thank you. As my kids get older that may change, but for right now, my job is perfect and I will not be guilted into trying for more.
I’m all for growing though. I think everyone, including working moms need to grow in some way. In order to keep growing myself, I started a blog and then restarted it last year as an outlet and a way to grow my online skills. I’m a marketer, I need to know about social media, blogging, content marketing, and all that. My current job outsources that to agencies, so I created Marketing Mommy.com to teach myself. Plus, for me, it’s fun. And that’s the sweet spot, when you find something fun that actually helps you grow.
And despite how much I love my job, I would really like to develop blogging into a full time job. I love writing. I have always loved writing, since I was a kid writing plays and creative stories as a child. Blogging gives me a chance to do something I love and potentially give people something new to think about, a different perspective. When we keep our minds open to new ideas is always a win-win. Besides Marketing Mommy, I am also in the process of developing a new blog aimed at Christian church leaders to help them market their church. I believe God has given each of us a gift and marketing is mine. I want to use that gift for God. Additionally, it would allow me to work, and have more time for my kids.
Everyday it seems like a new adventure. My husband and I seem to like home improvement projects. The house we bought needs lots of love, especially the outside. We are always trying to come up with new inexpensive ideas to fix up the yard. Plus with a two year old, I need to find ways to keep him safe in an unfinished yard while still managing to accomplish anything. It takes a delicate balance. Sometimes I even have my boy washing rocks, because he likes playing in the water, and it keeps him busy and out of other trouble.
As a final piece of advice I talked about how moms need to focus inward sometimes.
It is important for all moms, working or stay at home, to take time for themselves. In airplanes they ask that in case of a change in cabin pressure that you put on your own mask before helping others. There is sound research behind this. You can’t help anyone, including yourself if you are incapacitated. We have to take care of ourselves so that we can better care for our families.
So what do you think? Do you focus on the positive? What are your key moments as a working or stay at home mom? Do you feel successful? Do you have any mantras to keep you going? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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