As the debate rages on about whether women can have it all -- if we can balance rewarding careers with having a family -- the celebration of Mother’s Day seems an appropriate time to celebrate and discuss the hard work, sacrifice and responsibility of working moms in particular.
I am a wife, working mom of three, and the family breadwinner. I can tell you right now it’s just not possible to work full-time, meet your career goals, and get that promotion – while also meeting the standards of a 1950s housewife. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t “have it all.”
I am also the general manager of Salary.com, a website devoted to providing accurate and credible salary calculations and career-related advice. Work and life are inextricable – the work we do determines the money we make, and the money we make helps us live the lives we want.
I know what all working parents know: “work-life balance” is a marketing myth. Work and life are an exercise in blending not balancing. My responsibilities at work and at home do not have to be at odds with each other. I physically leave the office, but my computer and iPhone go with me. When I’m at work, I’m only a phone call or text away from home. Work and life priorities must be allowed ebb and flow as needed, because forcing an equal distribution of my time would be the ultimate exercise in futility.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Blending work and life gives me the amount of control I need to be successful. As a working parent, my ability to prioritize (and reprioritize) has been my saving grace. I assess and reassess the needs of my children, husband, work and employees every single day and every single week, and I make the necessary adjustments.
This can make life feel like controlled chaos, but there’s no across-the-board work/life allocation that works for every single person. Your focus should be on creating a blend that works best for you, your family and your employer. Having an open and honest dialogue with your family, manager and team will help you find the flexibility you need to do both.
Very few managers and even fewer companies are going to care deeply whether your work/life balance is just right. It’s your career and it’s your life, so take care of it because no one else will.
Salary negotiation is no different. Your salary is a direct reflection of the work you do and the value you bring to your company. It also directly affects your personal life -- whether you can buy a new home, send your kids to college, take a vacation or go back to school.
It surprises me every year to see the results of a Salary.com surveys that consistently finds women don’t negotiate their salaries as often as men. Forty-two percent of women think they are paid less than their co-workers, compared to 25% of men, yet only 26% of female respondents indicated they always negotiate their salary. If you’re making the commitment to both work and life, why neglect your salary negotiations – the one piece that directly connects them both?
Just like you do when buying a car or even picking a restaurant for dinner, do your homework. Find out how others in your field, in your region, with similar responsibilities and job titles are being compensated. When negotiation time comes, be prepared to prove you’re an asset to your employer. Then simply asking for what you deserve, and having the data to back you up, will take you a long way.
The plight of the working parent is riddled with guilt, “Am I working too much? Am I not working enough?” Bottom line is this: if your home life is happy and your work is on point, you’re doing it right.
Some days I’m all work, some days I’m all mom. Some days I manage to split them pretty evenly. The fact is I can have it all – as long as I remember to work hard for my job and make my job work hard for me.
Click here to read our "Battle of the Sexes: Gender Perceptions at Work" article with the results of our latest survey.