Working Parents: Making Time for Your Career
A few months back, I was lucky enough to attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women. The conference was local and only a day long however with lots of projects with tight timelines pending, I worried about giving up the day for something that felt like a extravagance in terms of my day-to-day existence. A nice-to-do but certainly not a need-to-do. I got there feeling stressed and checked my email constantly during the opening speakers so that I didn’t miss anything critical. Then one of my history idols, Doris Kearns Goodwin, spoke about her new book and her musings on her own life as a professional historian and a working mother. I was enthralled. Getting to hear her speak made the entire day worthwhile.
After that I heard another woman I admire, Cathie Black, speak. I’d read and really enjoyed her book, Basic Black, years ago and hearing her speak brought many of the pearls of career wisdom and inspiration shared in her book back to me. I left the session feeling totally inspired and energized.
One of the things that day made me realize was I’ve become so busy with my job (and you know, being a mom and a wife and a homeowner and sister and daughter…) that I’ve forgotten to set aside any time to do anything about my career. So much of my life is about getting things crossed off my professional and personal to-do list and “career” isn’t even on it. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like taking time to think about your career is akin to making time to exercise – no one is going to do it for you and while the consequences of not making the time may not be obvious in the short term, they certainly will be in the long term. So I committed to making some time, no matter how small.
So far I’m trying to take baby steps. Reading some books. Checking in regularly with sites like The Daily Muse and LeanIn.org. Basically just allowing myself a little time to think beyond what needs to get done this day or this week. I’m no Sheryl Sandberg, that’s for sure. My professional aspirations don’t necessarily align with the corner office. But that doesn’t mean I should shortchange myself by not thinking about and working toward the future I do imagine for myself and my family.
How do you make time for your career and professional development in a busy working mom schedule?