Have you worked in a full-time position up until your child was born, only to realize the hurdles you were facing were harder than you thought? Or did you recently transition to self-employment or part-time work to help find more balance in motherhood, career and family life? In this series about unexpected career choices, I wanted to share stories of moms who found the right juggle for themselves and their families. Sometimes this meant leaving their position to be a stay-at-home-mom for a period of time, some pursued full-time blogging, and some thrived in their full-time position.
I found when I was navigating my own career twists and turns that the conversation felt too narrow. I found after talking to friends and other moms that there are many of us who have found a middle ground that doesn’t really fall within “working mom” or “stay-at-home-mom.” Here’s part one from two weeks ago. Today, read on for the stories from two other moms, and my own:
Marketing Executive turned Entrepreneur
Monica Froese, Redefining Mom: When I returned from maternity leave to my corporate job of almost 10 years, I was shocked by how difficult it became to manage my career and have a baby. I started to resent the lack of flexibility offered in the corporate setting and knew that I needed to make a change. It took me two years to admit to myself that I no longer wanted to pursue a corporate career. It was a tough decision because I spent a third of my life building my career and pursuing my masters in business. Once I made the decision to find more balance in my life, I became a different person. I now run my own online business and I am on track to replace my corporate income this year. Sometimes it’s really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially when we are stressed out over our current circumstances. I’m so glad I chose to leave corporate behind and never look back!
Full-time Lawyer turned Part-time Lawyer + Blogger
Jennifer Burby, The Champagne Supernova: The world needs to stop telling women they can’t have it both ways by successfully raising a family while having a career. It’s bogus. Women just need to create a mental blueprint of what their dream career looks like and then be patient until they get it. Jennifer wrote all about how she transitioned to full-time employment to finding her dream part-time job in this post.
Full-time Employment to Freelancer back to Full-time Content Writer
Jamie, Blonde Mom Blog: Throughout my 20+ year career I have always strived to strike a balance between career and motherhood. It hasn’t always been easy, but I have always believed in being able to stay in a career path as well as spend as much time with my girls as I can. Over the past few years I have transitioned from full-time work to consulting and freelance work and now I’m working full time again. Throughout each phase of my career I have always made a point to be able to make special school events, do occasional volunteer work and still stay involved as much as possible.
My own story:
Communications Director turned Part-time Communications Consultant
The full-time position I had when Beau was born was one I had held for over five years. It was my dream job. My boss was understanding of my personal responsibilities and let me choose the schedule that worked best for me. My co-workers were also supportive and it felt like a family more than a company. But I felt like I was always failing. I felt bad leaving the office early when my co-workers stayed late. I felt guilty every time I was booking a work trip. I hadn’t yet gone back to work after Beau was born, but was terrified of how I’d balance all the responsibility I had at work with my two boys.
So I made the choice to take a new position with a PR agency that allowed me to work from home one day a week. I no longer managed other individuals and did more creative work myself. I really enjoyed being more hands-on and only being responsible for myself and my clients. It wasn’t in any way easier – in some moments harder because I had to be an expert in multiple companies vs. just one – but I was really fulfilled and had a manageable balance.
Then Clint got the opportunity to move to Ohio.
So I made a jump.
I decided I would move and focus on my family – revisiting my career when the dust settled.
Fast forward only a couple of months and I started talking to friends and colleagues about freelancing. What would I charge? What would I specialize in? Where would I find my clients? The questions swirled in my head but it started to make more sense.
Plus – I did the math. I could get anywhere from 2-4 hours of work done each day without childcare if I worked during naps and in the early mornings. On days that Shep was in school I could work almost 5 since Beau took two naps. If I needed more time than that, Clint was supportive and could cover a few hours on the weekends or in the evenings.
I know some people I talked to said – but when can you do housework? Won’t you be exhausted?
The answer was that my work fuels me. It makes me a better mom. When I have a creative outlet, I’m a better version of myself. I just find a way to squeeze it all in and some days it’s really crazy. But – even if my days were packed with kids and work and my counters remained sticky and messy, it was a balance that was better for me.
Fast forward about 6 months, and I have several clients and projects I’m balancing (and back to working with that incredible agency!) I have a variety of work that I’m passionate about and I’m really thankful for the clients that have trusted me with their business. I’m averaging about 20 hours of work per week, some weeks are more and some are less.
Talking to other women about making career changes have taught me a valuable lesson: Don’t ever worry about making a leap. Even in the moment it may seem scary, there is always an opportunity to learn from that risk. And when your heart is in your work, and you gain a balance you’ve been seeking, you’ll find your work may improve (mine did!) I also know that when or if the time is right, I have new skills that I can apply to full-time employment. But right now – I know this is exactly where I need to be.
I’m excited for what’s ahead for both myself, my career and my family. I’m thankful my boys put me in a position to reexamine what career can mean and what it can look like. I’ve learned I don’t need a fancy title to feel fulfilled in my career, and I know the future holds many exciting things!
What have you learned through career twists and turns?