I recently read a passage in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In for Graduates that really resonated with me. In it, Sandberg highlights the journey of Sarah, a promising young community leader poised to take on the role of mayor. At first, Sarah had doubts about running for fear that she did not have the necessary qualifications (although she did; in fact, she possessed the same qualifications as the outgoing mayor). When she finally came to the realization that she had what it took, she came upon yet another psychological stumbling block: she was the mother of two toddlers! It was then that she read Sandberg’s chapter in Lean In on “not leaving before leaving,” or avoiding placing limits on yourself because of your family situation. Sandberg explains that many women limit their opportunities to grow and flourish because they fear that their family responsibilities—whether it be taking care of children or elderly parents—will not allow them to thrive professionally. I wrote about this in an earlier post entitled “The Maternal Wall.”
However, what truly galvanized Sarah’s decision to run for mayor was that she knew her male colleagues would never have the same pressures put on them. Face it, not many men get the “How do you do it, raising children and pursuing a challenging career?” question, right? At that moment, Sarah decided to adopt one of my favorite philosophies (also quoted by Tina Fey) to say YES, and figure it out later!
Now, you may be saying, “Okay, I get that this is great on paper and that it’s empowering and all, but this is not my reality.” Well, isn’t it? This is when thinking outside the box and leveraging key relationships in your life come into play. If you really want the position and want to push yourself professionally, there is always a way if you have enough fire in your belly.
Thinking Outside the Box
Many women—although men should also be in this category—fear that they are not present enough for their children, or that if they take the next promotion, it will mean that they are unfit or, God forbid, bad mothers! Never mind that they will be challenged and find meaning in their careers—but that’s another post altogether. So, to counter this, here are some strategies which can be put into place if you are willing to think outside the box:
- Read my post entitled “Strategies for Making Family Time a Reality.” In it, you will find practical and realistic tips on integrating family and work.
- Not everyone is blessed to have family nearby to help with the little ones; if this is the case, here is what many parents opt for:
1. Day care (no surprise). However, today many workplaces offer onsite day care, which is an added bonus for parents;
2. Swapping childcare services with a friend or trusted neighbor. You may have friends in the same situation as you but working different shifts. If this is the case, you can always ask them to help with your children and take your turn when your schedule allows it. Or, you could always switch services! As an example, you could make a few meals a week for your friend while he or she helps out with your children.
At any rate, you get the picture. The point is to get creative and find good people with whom to work and figure out the ultimate routine for you and your family. Figure out what works for you. The overall message is, where there’s a will there’s a way!
Do you agree with the suggestions I mentioned? What would you do if a plum position presented itself and you (along with your spouse) needed to figure out how to keep the family on track?
DID YOU KNOW???