Q: What mindset should working mothers adopt to position themselves for success at work and at home?
A: I think it is important for working mothers to adopt an "I am enough" mindset. So often, working mothers experience feelings of guilt and inadequacy when they are trying to balance their responsibilities as a parent and employee. We feel pressure to try to be everything to everybody.
The reality is you simply cannot be everything to everybody. Oftentimes, this feeling to please everybody is self-inflicted. No one has actually put this demand on us. But because we fear how others might perceive us if we don’t meet their expectations of us, we deplete ourselves trying to live up to an expectation that has never actually been set.
Q: How can you advantageously leverage your experience as a mother in a professional setting?
A: Being a mother is probably one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs out there. Because of this, mothers are equipped with some of the most in-demand soft skills such as leadership, creative problem solving and innovation, communication, active listening, time management and emotional intelligence.
Every mother I know, including myself, has led projects such as orchestrating a big move, figuring out how to turn random ingredients into a tasty and nutritious meal, managing multiple schedules and meeting deadlines. Probably most important of all, they have had to perceive, evaluate and respond to their own emotions and the emotions of others.
Q: Working moms have to juggle a lot. How can they effectively respond to employers or colleagues who question their commitment to their work?
A: Working moms should unapologetically honor their commitment to their families. Instead of saying, "I’m sorry, I won’t be able to make it to work today because my child is ill," say, "I will be taking today off because my child is ill." Period. No apology or further explanation needed.
Q: What is the best piece of time-management advice you can offer working mothers?
A: Though your family and career are both important, neither will thrive if you are not the best version of yourself. Make self-care a priority over everything else, including your family and career, because you cannot pour from an empty cup.
For many busy working mothers, nothing will happen if it’s not on your calendar. So, plan your self-care in advance the same way you would any other meeting or commitment. Create a meeting invite and block your calendar for the time that you will commit to exercise, meal planning, rest and relaxation.
Q: For mothers who want to pursue leadership roles at work, how do they know when an opportunity is worth it, and what should they do to prepare for it?
A: Leading a team is much like parenting in that you will have people under your leadership who will look to you for guidance, support and direction. Before pursuing leadership roles at work, you should ask yourself if you are ready to be responsible for the growth and development of those under your leadership.
You will know the opportunity is worth it if the organization is transparent and truly in support of people bringing their whole selves to work and if they support working parents in general.
There’s a reason parenting takes a village. Woods recommends expanding yours with the following resources:
- Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers and Create Success on Your Own Terms by Shellye Archambeau
- Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
- How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion or Job by Marshall Goldsmith and Sally Helgesen
- Betting on You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career by Laurie Ruettimann
- Own Your Career, Own Your Life: Stop Drifting and Take Control of Your Future by Andy Storch
- Career Contessa
- The Muse
All resources and recommendations are the opinion of Ricklyn Woods and are not affiliated with University of Phoenix.
Success begins with preparation. The University of Phoenix Career Services team created 6 guides to help you build the right foundation for your future. Click on the images below to download our step-by-step guides.