My four young children (well, at least three of them) consider visiting my office as exciting as going to a park. There is some value to working on the 33rd floor of a downtown high-rise, but I think there’s more to it than that.
My boss, coworkers and staff know my kids’ names and recognize their smiling faces, some even promoting their artistic talents by posting their artwork for all to see during business hours.
I’m a working mom who doesn’t hide from or feel shamed by any part of that identity. For the record, I would never look down or speak negatively about those who choose to stay home with their little ones. Heck, I genuinely believe that’s a more exhausting job than what I do! The following words are just to help those who make a lot of sacrifices to do both to see some perks they may not have considered before.
I would simply like to point out three ways that working mothers can leverage their status to reap some bonus points since we all know there’s only so much to go around.
1. Reinforce Work Ethic and Career Possibilities
Taking my kids to the office has shown them that there’s more to “going to work” than disappearing from home. Since visiting, one of my daughters has changed her career ambition from server to veterinarian or police officer. Girl scouts has undoubtedly helped with that advancement as well, but they all definitely see working as a pretty great thing. They know why I have to go to work even when they don’t always want me to leave – because that’s how we pay for everything we have.
2. Strengthen Professional Connections and Relationships with Coworkers
As an extrovert, this part comes naturally to me, but what better way to get to know someone than connecting about the little ones we love more than anything?! Everyone in my office (and professional life) knows my kids mean the world to me, so I capitalize on that. If I’m swamped with a week of soccer and flag football, I may start a conversation asking what takes up someone else’s weekend. I often ask other, more experienced parents for advice when I’m going through something particularly challenging with my own children. Kids can be great ice breakers whether they’re with you or not, and they can act as a great foundation for taking an acquaintance to a new level by helping you break down some of those typically artificial networking barriers.
3. Boost Your Sense of Accomplishment
Working moms get a lot of slack sometimes and I know I personally have plenty of self-doubt about how much time and effort I’m putting into either my kids or my family at various points in my life. But we are pretty awesome. I highly recommend looking at our situation in this light. Kids still absolutely view you as their caretaker – perhaps even more so since they know you paid for the clothes on their back and the food they eat at dinner. If you’re fortunate to share your life with another adult, he or she adores you even more for contributing financially to the home. I know my stay-at-home man appreciates that he can focus on the yard and the kiddos instead of working at a place he didn’t enjoy. Your coworkers know that just by being a mother, you’re responsible and most likely, more dependable too. Finally, if you’re anything like me, you want to spend time on both work and family, so you’re also taking care of you. And everyone in your life needs you to do that too.
So embrace your balance – however you accomplish that. Remember that there are easy ways to teach your children, develop relationships, and take pride in what you do. You truly make a difference in the lives of both little and big people alike.