I recently returned to work after being on maternity leave with my second child. As I was mentally preparing for this, I had anxiety and stress and wondered, Can I do this? How do women maintain their careers, continue to grow professionally, and still be a mother too?
I began to think that perhaps it was time for me to focus solely on my children for now. Then I started looking for success stories of women who stayed at their jobs after having children. Many of them didn’t have to give up focus on their children to grow their careers. They were able to adjust their schedules and work with their employers to continue their growth.
When I discussed my return plan with my boss, I found that my employer was willing to be flexible too. I knew that I could return, I could grow professionally, and I could still be a mom too. My number one priority could still be family.
The reason I’m sharing this our blog is because many of my co-workers, and many of the clients I work with as an Account Manager, are moms too. In fact, women make up nearly half of all business travelers, and that number is projected to increase in the decades ahead. But despite these significant and growing numbers, woman still often experience professional difficulties as they try to overcome the challenges associated with being a working mother. However truthfully, I think all of us–men included–question our work/life balance and wonder how to be successful both at work and at home.
I think there are two keys to achieving that balance. First, begin by being honest with yourself and your time–really evaluate your goals and plans, as well as the reality of your situation. What is it that you want most? What needs to happen in order for it to occur? That might mean staying home. Or it might mean returning to work. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Only you know what’s right for you.
Second, it is essential to seek employment with a company that supports your goals. And those companies do exist! I feel fortunate because my employer, Christopherson Business Travel, supports workplace flexibility. In fact, Christopherson Business Travel has been awarded the The Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility every year since 2009. They understand my commitment to my family as well as my commitment to my job and the company. I also know that I have the opportunity to advance my career with them, but without detriment to my home life.
I also recommend reading this article on NBCNews.com. It helped me see exactly how working mothers are redefining success.