The best excuse for a dead career is your kids, right? Most people give you a pass when you point to the trials and tribulations of motherhood as the reason you didn’t make it as a banker, artist, or entrepreneur.
It’s a cop out, and often a fallback for women who weren’t really happy with their career paths. Well, the thousands of successful women I’ve interviewed may have wanted to play the blame game when things got tough, but somehow they rose above it.
You can raise the volume up on your career to levels beyond your wildest dreams.
I recently was asked to come up with some tips to help moms from career crashing for a magazine. The story fell through but I thought I would share some of the key points and get your feedback.
* Prepare for a battle to rival the Spartans in 300: I almost crashed and burned when my daughter was hitting the terrible twos. I was fighting to build my career and she was fighting to destroy me. This is the fight or flight crossroads many women hit in their mid- to-late-30s, according to the Center for Work Life Policy. One study the group conducted of women in the science, engineering and technology fields found that over time 52 percent of highly qualified women quit their jobs.
* Purge your life of perpetual mommyness: Break up with your stay-at-home mom friends and others who try to sabotage you, and never go to a play date again. No matter what anyone says, moms who have careers or lives beyond just kids and hubby have a better chance at happiness and you’ll lose sight of that if you try to maintain your pre-job mommy lifestyle. A recent UK study that looked at 4,000 couples found that working moms were happier than their non-working counterparts.
* Pretend you’re not a mommy at work: I remember listening to Jack Welch give a speech at the Massachusetts Women’s Conference and he told the women one thing that left them all with their mouths hanging open. “If you want to get ahead, it isn’t about saying ‘hi’ to your boss, it’s about over-delivering,” he says. “That is the game. When you learn that game that will do more for you than anything else you can do.” No one wants to hear about your kids sickness, or the play you missed, especially not your boss. My editors have been great, understanding men and women but bottom line they really don’t care why I couldn’t deliver my work on time. The main thing is I didn’t deliver. I’m not saying you have to take down those adorable photos of little Cheiron, just don’t whine about being a mom all the time. (I know you know what I mean.)
* Divorce the slacker: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it one thousand times – if it weren’t for my husband my career would never have made it to the level it is now. When I was writing my book there were many nights when I was trapped in my office hearing my husband prepare dinner, do homework with the kids and then start the laundry. One study asked women in medicine how they were able to balance medicine, motherhood and madness. Who better to ask about dealing with a hectic career and motherhood than women physicians. Well, one of their big tips: pick your partner well.
* Put down the blocks and get off the floor: I don’t think I remember my mother ever getting on the floor with me to play a game, or sitting with me in my room at a table drinking pretend tea at a pretend party. I, on the other hand, can’t seem to get out of playing Hullaballoo…and I have a bad back. We’ve lost our minds when it comes to thinking we have to spend every waking moment with our kids. A study by the University of Maryland found that moms today spent four hours more a week with the little buggers than our moms did in the sixties.
I know some of you out there have divergent views on this, and I’d love to hear your take. No way around it, women still face discrimination in the workplace, and that continues to keep many from moving up. But women who constantly find themselves fighting an uphill battle when it comes to building their careers also have to take a long hard look at themselves and how they can change things.
I recently bought a bunch of frozen, all-natural quiches I plan on serving the family with a salad just to make my dinner life a bit easier.