Abby Gregory isn’t just a divorce lawyer for Connatser Family Law, she’s a loving mom to her two-year-old daughter too. Whether by choice or circumstances, she knows working moms have to juggle a lot to make sure both kids and marriages thrive, while staying on top of work demands.
“For many working moms, this juggling act isn’t just a challenge. It also leaves some moms feeling guilty and worried their kids will suffer because they work outside the home. However, as The New York Times (NYT) reports, a recent Pew Research Center study of 50,000 adults found there is an upside for children of working moms,” Abby says.
The study revealed that daughters of working moms were likely to complete more years of schooling, find a job, work in supervisory positions and earn more money.
In addition, sons of working mothers spent more time assisting other family members and doing housework, which according to the NYT, “research has found increases women’s labor force involvement and might lead to more stable marriages.”
Working Moms Can Survive and Thrive, Here’s How
Even if you can shake off feelings of guilt, face it, “doing it all” usually isn’t easy. Since she knows first-hand what working moms face, Abby offers seven sanity-saving tips below, along with advice regarding what you should and shouldn’t do when divorce and custody issues arise.
1. New moms, please know that it gets easier over time. Really.
When her maternity leave came to an end, Abby was relieved her first day back was on a Friday. The following Monday was a different story. “When I got home from work that day, the nanny had already put my daughter to bed, and I broke down in tears. Those first days were tough, but every day it got a little easier,” Abby says.
2. Make sure you have a good support system in place.
Whether you lean on your spouse, family members, friends or people you know in your community or place of worship, Abby says, “It’s OK to ask for help. You might be surprised at how much people are willing to give if you ask.”
3. Arrange for a childcare that fits your work hours, budget and lifestyle.
According to Abby, “I work a full-time job and am still expected to be the default parent, like many women today. It’s usually up to me (not my husband) to make sure I’m home at a reasonable time, so the nanny can leave. At the same time having a nanny offers me more flexibility than traditional daycare. Other moms have to get to daycare on time to pick up the kids at a specific time, which can be tough.
Look for childcare that offers the flexibility you need at a cost you can afford. Onsite company daycare and afterschool care programs can provide good options, and don’t forget that support system mentioned above.”
4. Make organization a priority and plan ahead.
“With any job, as long as you’re organized and plan ahead, you can make life easier for all concerned. Block out any time you need away from the office far enough in advance, so people aren’t surprised when you’re unavailable. That way you can usually avoid having to reschedule or cancel meetings. It really can be doable,” Abby says.
5. Consider transitioning into a different job role.
Among her contemporaries, Abby says, “Some of my fellow working moms started out being on the road two or three days a week, and that just wasn’t sustainable for them after they had children.”
Many of these working moms transitioned into other roles or found new jobs that eliminated the travel component and offered more flexible hours. Others had husbands with 9–to-5 jobs who could help more with the childcare. Weigh your options.
“If you can find a place to work where face time isn’t critical to your role, but your work ethic and ability to execute and be a team player are appreciated, you could look into working from home. Just keep in mind, it isn’t easy working and caring for young children at the same time. Supplemental childcare may still be necessary,” explains Abby.
6. Take advantage of digital tools and flexible hours.
The benefit of today’s world is you can connect just about anywhere (say your son’s soccer game or daughter’s ballet recital) and can be responsive and reachable away from the office. Many of us also have the flexibility to log in later at night or early in the morning when the kids are asleep. If your job allows you this flexibility, go for it.
7. Take time for yourself.
Abby believes it is really important for working moms to get some time away from both home and work. “A happy person is going to be a happy mom, wife and coworker. If you have stressors at work or home, you need to do something to alleviate that stress. Schedule time regularly to meditate, work out or relax with a manicure. That time for you can help ensure that your best self is going home to the kids,” she says.
When Marriages Fall Apart, Timing, Parenting and Asking for Help Are Key
As a family law attorney, Abby has helped her share of working moms get through divorce and child custody disputes. “Timing is critical when it comes to filing for divorce. If you are the party who plans to file, try to wait until work isn’t too crazy and you’re not overloaded. That way you will have time to meet with your attorneys to plan your divorce strategy and be available to your kids,” explains Abby.
Abby also advises clients with children to make sure they can get home at a reasonable time, or take time off, to be there to take on the primary parenting responsibilities. “This is critical if you hope to get primary custody of your children,” Abby says.
Finally, lean on your support system for help. As Abby explains, “There are many people willing to do whatever you need. You just need to ask and be willing to take on the help.”
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