I have a few books on my shelves written by moms dishing advice about juggling a successful career and a family. They are written by highly successful and wealthy women. I used to attend some “women’s conferences” sponsored by work or professional firms that had “work-life balance” discussions for working moms.
Some of the events would be centered around a fashion theme, risotto, cheese and wine were all served. Women would talk about their struggles to maintain a work-life balance, how they were able to juggle childcare and a rigorous work schedule. Ideas were tossed out about how to mentor young mothers (lawyers) who were trying to find the right balance. The ideas and theories were great and the concepts were worthwhile. But I always left those events feeling frustrated.
Many of the women doing the mentoring were senior partners, executives, etc. They were all products of private schools, had husbands that made 6 figures, had nannies, etc. The work-life balance was centered around flexibility of a high-powered job.
What I felt was always missing from this discussion was – MONEY.
Many moms I know struggle with work-life balance and time with their kids are trying to work with non-flexible jobs, little extra money for childcare and constant stress about how to make all those parts meet. It’s not a decision of leaving a salaried job for 2 hours to attend a school function for some moms – participating in PTOs and school events can mean no income for the day for some moms, so they can’t do it. When schools have 1/2 days for parent-teacher conferences, how many average moms have $100+ to cover a babysitter for those extra hours?
All of the women’s events and group socials I’ve been to over the years have been very well-meaning and filled with some fantastic women. But I always felt that the conversations were incomplete and far from universal. Even in the law firm and corporate settings, many people in the room couldn’t relate to the “nanny filling the holes when mommy can’t be home” solution.
There are incredible moms who make choices every day that not make sense to other moms who have more options at their disposal. I wish there were more books and articles about the working mom (or dad) that makes $12/hr, pays $400/month in health insurance and has a $1800/month mortgage. Or parents that have to work nights and weekends to do what they can for their families. The parents that have to work overtime because that’s the only way to afford their kids’ sports/activities right now.
Those are the parents I’d like to encourage and remind them that they are doing the best they can. That their children are going to be okay and that the juggling act is going to be worth it in the end. Those are the folks that need to hear that their time is precious and they are great parents.