It's Working Project

Ask for what you need and focus on what you are great at.

Faced with a Pivot or Perish Scenario, This Working Mom Took Career and Family Happiness into her Own Hands


What inspired you to leave or change your job after you started your family?

I left P&G even before I became pregnant with my first daughter.  Honestly, I’m not sure I even could have become pregnant while I worked there.  I loved my job and gave my all to it.  It was my first priority – above all else; even above my marriage, my friends, my family.  I didn’t know how to do it half way, and it always seemed to require more of me.  I came to a realization that for me, I needed to step out of that environment to reset my priorities.  I wanted my family to be my first priority, and I couldn’t do that in the career I had.

How do you think that decision has changed your life?

There is no question leaving my career in brand management changed my life.  I put more effort into my marriage.  I put my family first and my job second.  I have a new career as a consultant that leverages what I learned in my first career.  I love my job, but I’m clear it’s not my first priority.  I can balance both in a way I couldn’t have in my old job.

What do you think life would be like if you were still in your former position?

I have friends who are still in brand management and are moms, but I know it wasn’t something I could have done.  My life feels so full now in a way that brings me incredible joy.  I have 4 kids, I spend lots of time with friends, my job is very flexible, I pursue hobbies (over the past few years I’ve learned to snowboard, play the guitar, ride a motorcycle, and more.)  I go on every field trip, I still pursue challenging projects at work.  I think if I were in my former, more demanding job I wouldn’t be able to do all the other things I enjoy.

What advice do you have for working parents who are straining to make it work? For employers on how to make it work better for working parents returning to the workplace?

Ask for what you need, and focus on what you are great at.  When I came back to work after my first daughter, I insisted on working 4 days a week.  I worked at a small company and no one had ever been part time, but I fought for what I knew would work for me.  After my second daughter was born, I wanted even more flexibility so I started my own business as a contracting consultant.  I never imagined having my own business, but I was shocked at how easy it was for me.  Recently I have taken a position at a company which has allowed me to travel less, which is also great.  I have been very clear about what I needed to be successful in my job.  I’ve also articulated that my first job is as a mom and that being a consultant is my second job.  I know that’s a risky thing to say, but I want to be clear with them up front on my priorities.  But then, I work as hard as I can to be exceptional at what I do.  I find ways to make myself indispensable.  I do things other people don’t do.  I focus on what I’m good at and try not to waste effort on things I’m not.  I think I’m much for efficient than I ever used to be.

One other thing – we have invested in a nanny.  It costs a lot but it’s hugely worth it.  I couldn’t do my job well if I questioned if my children were getting good care.  Also, she builds tremendous capacity into our family.  When the kids nap, she makes dinner and does laundry.  She takes the kids to the grocery store (because I hate it and I don’t want to spend my time off doing errands – I want to be doing fun things like going to the pool.)  I went back to work early with my 3rd daughter – she was only 3 months old – and I would take my mom or my nanny on business trips with me so I could be with my newborn.  Basically, I find creative ways to make my life work.  It’s not easy, but it is full.

Can you reflect on one moment of family life that was made possible or enhanced by your decision to make your career change?

There are so many. The flexibility of my job allows me to spend so much more time with my family doing things I enjoy.  I leave work early to go to the pool, I am the room mom and plan all the parties, anytime my family needs me I can work my schedule to flex to the need.  My husband also works full time so one of us needed to be scheduled to make the things of life happen – dr’s appointments, home maintenance, etc.

One moment of work life that was enhanced by your decision to make your career change?

Owning my own business was never something I imagined I could do.  And by taking that risk, I made the same amount of money working part time as I did in my former full time job.  I’ve also learned lots of new skills that I never would have learned had I not tried something new.  When my kids are older, I can absolutely imagine putting more energy in my business and growing it.  Again, not possible without the risk I took.