Working mothers find balance with like-minded colleagues


By Maureen McCann.

Three self-employed career practitioners share their discussion about the OTHER side of work.

This week, I had the good fortune to share PowerToFly President Katharine Zaleski’s commentary on the Fortune website entitled “I’m sorry to all the mothers I worked with.” What followed was great insight and discussion into being parents and career professionals.

Here’s my edited online discussion with Adrienne Tom and Skye Berry-Burke, working mothers and members of Career Professionals of Canada (CPC).

Maureen: Ladies, this article reminded me of some of the challenges I faced when my kids were really little: PowerToFly President Katharine Zaleski admits: “I didn’t realize how horrible I’d been – until I had a child of my own.”

Adrienne: I too struggled to understand working parents before I became one myself. After I first had kids, I felt pressure and isolation while I tried to locate that elusive perfect ‘balance.’ And, now I relate to other portions of the article: working from home can result in great things! After eight years, this is the first year I feel that I finally reached a more manageable place in work and life.”

Skye: My latest blog post is about this very topic of time management and finding that balance for my family and my business.  A while back I was provided some valuable advice from both Maureen and Sharon Graham who, separately, said that I had to stay true to my ‘authentic’ self as a résumé writer.

Since I started being honest about my time commitments and my priorities in my business, I am noticing that I am more productive. I have also been able to build a much deeper relationship with many clients who ask will me questions about my family and in turn they start to feel more comfortable sharing their career stories with me.

Adrienne: Each of us has our own unique journey to travel with self-employment. You are doing great! Sharon and Maureen provided sage advice, being honest with clients about your work situation makes things a lot easier. I too struggled with that; it is very ‘freeing’ not to box yourself into what you think is the expected ideal – just go about it the way that works best for you!

Skye: The journey of being a working mom, from home, and doing a job I love – helping people find jobs they love – is truly the most amazing ride in my life! And I agree Maureen, it is even better with friends and colleagues that share the same passion and challenges!”

Maureen: There was so much work to do [when the girls were little] and so little time to do anything else. Sure there were evenings and weekends that I really pushed myself to meet deadlines instead of spending time with family, but I think those made me cherish time spent with family more while forcing me to maximize my time spent in the office working on ROI projects.

What I have learned most is that the days, the weeks, the months – maybe they won’t balance; but rather they’ll all blend together into one amazing life! I love the idea of having a blended life that’s sometimes balanced and sometimes…well, way, WAY off kilter! I wrote this article entitled “don’t balance, blend” nearly 5 years ago when my kids were infants and life was BUSY!

These days I look at life like this: I worked my butt off when my husband was deployed, when I worked with a six-figure executive career management firm, and when I started my own business. Then, in 2012 when we moved to Europe, things slowed down. I had worked hard. It was time to focus on my kids who are at the age where we love hanging out together.

Overall the balance of being a résumé writer, having kids, and working from home is amazing. We are so lucky to have found, not only a career we love, but other professionals who love it as much and are willing to share their stories with us to remind us that even on the days where it’s really tough….it’ll get better – even awesome again!

Hope you’re both enjoying the ride.

Zaleski writes “There’s a saying that ‘if you want something done then ask a busy person to do it.’ That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now.”

We have all had a mother. And, chances are good we will run into someone’s mother in our day-to-day work life. Knowing how to relate, engage, motivate, and maybe even support her will benefit us, our clients, our company, and our community.

You may be a mother who is starting out or struggling in the career development field. There are others who have also been there. As members of Career Professionals of Canada (CPC), we are part of a sharing and inclusive community. We try to recognize opportunities to help our colleagues when needed. It is important to have an inner circle of colleagues who have a willingness to share their ups and their downs in a way that supports and nourishes us. Join our community if you would like someone to answer your questions, share common concerns and interests, and celebrate the big wins along with you.

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Thanks for a great discussion. As a mother and a professional, I have long been a fan of the blend don’t balance approach. Of course, career transitions for women are something that many mothers and employers continue to struggle with. We are hoping to provide some guidance for both with CERIC’s new Making It Work! Managing Successful Maternity Leave Career Transitions project. You can watch for results here later in the year

I didn’t start my business until my kids were out of school, so I didn’t face the challenges you described in your discussion. I really admire all of you for what you’ve accomplished!

I think it is just a truth of life that we never appreciate what someone else is going through until we ourselves experience something similar. It is the difference between sympathy and empathy. Balancing work and being a Mom is just difficult, no matter what.