If you’re among the majority of moms who kiss their kids goodbye each day to head off to work, then you know how hard it can be to meet all of their demands while also keeping your boss happy. In my interviews with dozens of moms who manage to successfully juggle those duties every day, I found that they often use the following seven strategies – which can be adopted by anyone looking for a little more balance in their lives.
1. Negotiate your schedule along with your salary.
You have the most power to ask for what you want, salary and schedule-wise, before you accept (but after you receive) your next job offer. In addition to asking for more money (something you should almost always do), consider requesting the flexibility you desire as well, whether it’s leaving by 5pm everyday or working at home one day a week. The conversation can be a chance to communicate with your new boss about workplace expectations and whether or not the position will be a good fit for you.
2. Go for the bigger job.
Having kids doesn’t necessarily mean you have to scale back your career ambitions, and in fact, many moms find getting paid more makes it easier to enlist the support they need to make it all work. Instead of spending a Saturday morning cleaning the house, they can fit a cleaning service into their budget, for example. If you’re currently underpaid, then start putting feelers out for your next opportunity or make the argument to your boss that you deserve to earn more. Don’t let your working mom status trick you into thinking you don’t deserve raises and promotions.
3. Take advantage of all of your workplace benefits.
In addition to financial benefits that can help your family, including flex spending for child care costs and retirement matching, your benefits might also include perks that help you at home. Telecommuting, flexible schedules and back-up child care are among the possibilities – if your workplace offers them, then you want to make sure to use them. According to the nonprofit Families and Work Institute, about two in three organizations allow at least some employees work from home occasionally.
4. Perfect the art of sending simple notes about your where-abouts.
If your child has to go to the pediatrician or you need to leave early for a ballet performance, there is no need to send a long, guilt-laden email to your supervisor and coworkers. Instead, opt for simple informative notes: “I will be out of the office starting at 3 p.m. today to attend a school event and I’ll be back online afterward.” Coworkers don’t need or want to hear about the rash on your toddler’s stomach or how his cough sounded at 5 a.m.
5. Work out fair deals with your partner.
If you have a partner, then you can share duties when it comes to parenting. The married moms I interviewed tended to take turns handling pediatrician visits, mealtimes, and school visits, so one person wasn’t constantly forced to interrupt their workday. It also helps kids get the message that mom’s work is important, too, and that dad can handle a doctor’s visit just as well.
6. Refuse to feel guilty.
You might be walking out at 5 p.m., but the coworkers you are leaving behind staring at their screens might be watching YouTube videos or daydreaming about happy hour. Guilt can interfere with productivity, so make a conscious effort to refuse to feel it, at home or at work. Whenever I hear a little voice of guilt creeping up in the back of my head, I try to banish it quickly by thinking about all the good things I have recently done, from one-on-one time with my daughter to positive work feedback.
7. Find a job you love.
If you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s much easier to walk out the door every morning and feel confident that you’re making the right choices for yourself and your family. After all, our kids are watching us closely – and they want to know mom is happy, too, whether she’s at work or at home.
This article was adapted from “Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family,” by Kimberly Palmer. © 2016 Kimberly Palmer. All rights reserved. Published by AMACOM Books. www.amacombooks.org, Division of American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.