Working mothers – how do they do it all?

I have now been a mother for almost 8 months and have voraciously consumed all advice on
“doing it all”. Here are some pieces of advice that particularly resonated with me:

From Lucy Hood (CEO of Jamba! until 2007 and Executive Director of the Institute for Communication Technology Management, USC Marshall School of Business):
  • While in the thick of things it seems crazy to think that your career should not meteorically keep rising. However your career will realistically span 30-40 years and you should think about what kind of interesting challenges lie ahead of you. Would your day be just as fulfilling if you were doing more of what you are doing now – 20 years down the line? It may make sense to have a career that rises and falls like the waves, to have some periods of lull between storms. It maybe more sustainable and interesting.
  • Backwards plan your time! This is so interesting as we use this strategy all the time while developing our lesson plans. But it never occurred to me to do the same with my life! After having children, it is not reasonably possible to work 90 hours a week (and be a mother and wife). So you have to decide how many hours you are going to devote to work, how many to your family and how many for yourself. Then stay true to your decision.
  • Have fun. Don’t take red-eyes. You are in this for the long haul. Don’t think you are superwoman. Sleep. Have fun! Take your children along on business trips. Spend an extra day before and after the business and play!
  • Seek support. Read books. Talk to other working mothers. Build your support network.
  • Live close to parks and other children. You will save countless hours that will otherwise be spent on the road.
  • And the best one of them all: Have no fear! Be true to yourself. You are the same ambitious, go-getting, quirky, powerful person you were before. Don’t let yourself down. You can do it.

From Tina Seelig‘s What I wish I knew when I was 20 (Tina Seelig is the Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program):

  • Once you become a mother, don’t think that your career is going to go on hold. Just think that you are going into the “slow lane”. Try to work part-time or volunteer so that you can keep your skills sharp or develop new ones.
  • The skills you develop as a parent will be invaluable at work. You will become uber-efficient, will be able to juggle thousands of thoughts at the same time in your head, function on low sleep and realize that you have the ability to conquer mountains.
Some books that I found particularly useful were:
  • This is how we do it by Carol Evans (President of Working Mother Media): This book had one piece of good advice regarding child care. Many times women feel very guilty about spending on child care when their salaries just about cover the costs. However, that is the wrong way to think about the whole scenario. It is an investment that enables the woman to stay in the workforce and keep her skills fresh.
  • Defying the odds – one of the rare women (entrepreneur) biographies. As a side note.. I always wondered why there weren’t more women entrepreneur biographies and now I know why! Women entrepreneurs or executive moms have NO TIME to write. I also realized that the top male CEO has absolutely nothing on the average working mom – in my opinion 🙂
  • Wise men fish here – the story of Frances Steloff and the Gotham Book Mart. This is an amazing story of how a woman started a bookstore that not only sold books but was a literary salon hosting and encouraging authors and poets way before they became famous. What is really inspiring is reading about how she started from absolute poverty and hardship.
Working Moms! What a force to reckon with!