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Advice for Working Moms

Mary Delaney, Chief Sales Officer, CareerBuilder.com

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As a parent, you know the difficulty in juggling soccer practices, doctor’s appointments, ballet recitals and parent-teacher conferences – all while trying to maintain your career. For some parents, especially moms, the battle for a work/life balance just isn’t worth the fight.

Forty-four percent of working moms say they'd take a pay cut if it meant they could spend more time with their kids, according to a new CareerBuilder.com survey of 1,124 women, employed full-time, with children under the age of 18 living at home. Nearly one-in-ten say they would give up 10 percent or more of their salary. Of working moms who are not the sole financial provider, nearly half (49 percent) say they would leave their job if their spouse or significant other made enough money for the family to live comfortably.

Moms are also missing quality time with their kids. Thirty-two percent of working moms say they spend less than three hours per day with their kids. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) report they have missed three or more significant events in their child's life in the last year and more than a third have missed two or more.

Career moms should keep in mind that compensation isn't the only thing that is negotiable - you can (and should) negotiate your schedule as well. As companies face a shrinking pool of qualified labor, retaining top talent has become a key business objective and companies are reshaping their policies. From mother's rooms and flexible work schedules to job sharing and onsite daycare, company-wide initiatives to accommodate and even encourage employees to balance work and family life are becoming commonplace.

According to the survey, nearly four-in-ten working moms say their companies offer flexible work arrangements. Of those who have taken advantage of these arrangements, the vast majority say it has not negatively impacted their career progress.

Follow these tips for how to sell your boss on a more flexible schedule:

Have a game plan
your recommendation should be presented as a well thought out strategy that demonstrates how you'll be more productive in a flexible work situation. Come with a plan already laid out and show your boss you have thought through the process.

Ease into it
Often companies implement new programs and strategies in stages - in order to make your plan more palatable to your boss, consider a plan that will gradually work up to your goal.

Be prepared and practiced
Anticipate questions/concerns your boss may raise and determine in advance how you will address these concerns. Also, be prepared to negotiate.

Also, here is a sampling of five of the top 10 companies with innovative policies for working moms, according to Working Mother magazine.

Abbott: Meets the needs of working moms with child care, flexibility, mentoring and leadership programs.

Ernst & Young: Allows working moms to create a customized package from a menu of options including flexible culture, Working Moms' Networks and parental leave - 12 fully paid weeks off for new moms with at least one year of service.

HSBC-North America: Sponsors numerous on-site child-care centers for moms who need full, part-time and/or backup care for their children.

JPMorgan Chase: Implements an Eight Week Advantage Program that allows new parents to make use of eight weeks of child care at on-site centers.

PricewaterhouseCoopers: Offers a variety of flexible work options including its Flexible Fridays policy. Employees can also receive discounts at more than 2,700 day-care centers nationwide.

At companies like these, women can still bear the brunt of child care duties, even in families where both parents work. One-in-four working moms say they are dissatisfied with their work/life balance.

Follow these tips for managing the work/life balancing act:

Have a date night
It's long been said quality over quantity. Schedule dates and special activities with each of your kids. This allows you to start traditions, create fond memories and will remind your kids how important they are to you.

Keep one calendar
Unfortunately, it's often easier to cancel on your child than on a potential client. Scheduling business and family obligations on the same calendar will lessen your chances of forgetting a personal commitment when you're planning work activities. It will also help you avoid over-scheduling and alert you if your commitments are unbalanced.

Leave the building
When you go on vacation, go on vacation. When you have a day off, take a day off. Many working moms feel they will lose a competitive edge if they ever truly leave the office at the office. But when you focus on other things and come back refreshed you will deliver a better work product.


Mary Delaney is the Chief Sales Officer at CareerBuilder.com and mother of three.

Last Updated: 22/02/2008 - 1:54 PM


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