Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'm on the New Mommy Track!!

US News and World Report did a cover story on me!!! Ok, well not me specifically, but on moms like me.

This week's US News and World Report cover story "The New Mommy Track" is about how some women are avoiding the "opt out" phenomenon by negotiating flexible work schedules and non-traditional career tracks. I'm so thrilled to see other women finding ways to blend work and family in ways that work for them.

I've been blazing this trail in my own organization, negotiating a variety of unique work arrangements over the last five years. Following my very first maternity leave, I asked my (relatively) new boss if I could work from home a couple of days a week to be close to my baby and keep an eye on our new nanny. He reluctantly agreed to a temporary trial and it ended up working out for both of us. I remained as flexible as I could to accommodate work needs and as soon as I was comfortable leaving my daughter, I was back at the office full time. When my second daughter came along three years later, I was tired of the full time working mommy thing and wanted out. I tried to resign, but my boss, now having built a level of confidence and trust in me, made me an offer I couldn't refuse -- a part time position. We negotiated hours, carefully devised a role that fit my experience and kept the workload to a manageable level. Each year, I arranged my work schedule around my children, working mostly on the days that they were in preschool.

Now I'm back at work full time (see this post on the impetus behind that decision), yet I still have a flexible schedule. Our wonderful nanny, who has been with us since my part time days, is only available to us a few days a week. That means two days a week, I leave the office mid-day to pick up my preschooler and work from home the rest of the day. It's not easy to tear myself from the office in the middle of a workday or to conduct business from home. I could make things alot easier on myself by finding alternate childcare arrangements. But the reward is seeing my little one light up when I show up at her school and watching my older daughter jump off the school bus and run around with the neighborhood kids.

Having been the first in my department and among the first in my office to have struck a unique work arrangement, I have felt like a pioneer these last five years. It has not always been easy and it has not been ideal. I often felt guilty for having "special" arrangements (and still do), I sometimes missed out on things (both at work and at home) and the juggling thing can be pretty exhausting. But it has been do-able and it's been the best solution for me. I agree with the US News article that these arrangements are not yet the norm, and I have to give props to my boss who recognizes that he works in a female dominated industry and that he's better off being flexible than hiring new employees all the time. He also has a wife that has struggled with the work/mom quandry. We now have several women in our department with flexible working arrangements (one part-timer and two that job-share) and several former new mommy employees do freelance work for us.

I truly hope this US News article inspires other moms to think outside the box and come up with solutions that work for them. If you've worked for a company for a number of years, you've proven yourself, have a good relationship with your supervisor and he/she is a reasonable person, flexible work arrangements are possible. The trick is to believe in your value and understand that your employer has more to lose than you do if you leave. We do have quite a way to go before these opportunities are available to everyone. But that's something we can work on together.

1 comment:

PunditMom said...

Until things change drastically, efforts like yours are going to be necessary for working mothers to keep going!