Five Things for a Working Mom to Consider Before Making a Career Change

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My career change as a working mom was a difficult decision. Here are five things to consider before making a career change of your own.

My Career Change as a Working Mom

This past week I quit my job of ten and a half years. It was the second largest, voluntary decision, that I have made in my entire life. This decision was three years in the making. I had my first child in October 2012 and went back to work in January 2013. I learned really fast that Corporate America is not a place that understands family-friendly policies. For example, the majority of companies offer no return-to-work support for new moms.

I quickly realized that the 8am-5pm grind (not including drive time) was going to take its toll on me as a new mom so I started to frantically look for an alternative. It wasn’t feasible to stop working and despite my best Google searches, I never seemed to be able to find the answers I needed. That was when I decided to start my own blog, Redefining Mom, back in July 2013. Soon after I stumbled across Working Moms Against Guilt and found that a lot of women felt the same exact way I did, overwhelmed.

Finding a Support System

Finding support from other moms online has been great, but there was still a voice in my head telling me that I could find a better balance that worked for my family. It felt impossible, I spent my entire 20s at the same Fortune 100 company, the best company to work for in my hometown. What would I do? Where would I go?

I spent 2015 convinced that the only way I was going to ever get the flexibility I wanted was to go out on my own. I spent countless hours researching different ways to freelance, the tax implications, LLCs, etc. I started to ramp up my blog again and attended a Mom Conference this past November. I kept telling myself that 2016 was going to be my year, the year I made my own schedule and succeeded by hard work and determination.

As they say, you usually find what you are looking for the moment you stop looking for it. An amazing opportunity presented itself with a smaller company in the same line of business as my current job. The opportunity was exactly what I had been looking for and thought I’d never find three years ago. I realize to many this may sound like luck and in many ways it is, but I’ve had the last month to sit back and think about it and I came up with five things for a working mom to consider before making a career change.

#1 What Are Your Values?

Last year I read an amazing article by Liz McGrory called How to stop the Working Moms struggle between work and life. In this article, she focuses on helping working moms define their values. What I took away from it was that if you understand your core values in life, the decisions you make, albeit tough at times, become much easier.

Liz says, “Knowing your values makes it easier to say no to others and yes to you.  It makes saying no easier because your values are clear in your mind, you can easily speak to them.”

After I read this article I determined that a core value of mine was flexibility. Specifically, the ability to drop off/pick up after school without using wrap care. I knew that I wanted to keep working and that my family depended on my salary but I struggled with accepting that I couldn’t pick my daughter up from school every day. I talked about this in an article I wrote called Time Equals Productivity in Corporate America where I explain my frustrations surrounding a typical Corporate America office job.

The rise of technology means that work follows (most) of us 24/7. The idea of an 8-5 workday is antiquated and I was increasingly frustrated that I was stuck in a situation that didn’t agree with my outlook. This made it easy for me to identify my values as a working mom.

My career change as a working mom was a difficult decision. Here are five things to consider before making a career change of your own.

#2 Family First

Once you become a mom, everything you do is with the consideration of your family. Does this mean that you shouldn’t work? Absolutely not! This topic has been extensively researched and talked about. There are many amazing benefits to being a working mom. My point is, ultimately, everything we do as a mom has our family’s best interest at heart. If a chance for a more flexible schedule never came my way, I would have stayed at my job because my family depends on my income. I would have stayed because I am a more productive person when I am challenged.

It’s important to identify what is important to you and your family and make it a priority in your career decisions.

#3 What is Best for Your Wellbeing?

Are you able to take care of yourself in your current career? Do you have time to eat healthy and workout? Are you happy most of the time? Are you fulfilled? Do you time to dedicate exclusively to your husband and kids?

Evaluating the root cause of your unhappiness and determining if it is really your current job situation holding you back is critical. Do not knee-jerk and make a decision to quit your job if it’s not really the root of the problem.

Often times we can mask the real source of our unhappiness by blaming it on a more obvious factor. For example, your husband may be less than helpful around the house. This may compound the difficulty of keeping up with your career, leading you to believe your job is to blame. Is it? Or if your husband helped out a little bit more would your career be more manageable?

Ask yourself these questions before making a final decision.

#4 Square Peg/Round Hole

Is your current position just not a fit for your personality or personal belief system? Do you find that no matter how hard you try it’s simply not good enough? Does your work team understand the demands you have at home as a mom?

Sometimes no matter how hard you try to fit in or make a work situation fit into your life, it just won’t. I’ve experience both. I’ve had work hours that just didn’t work for my family and a team environment I just did not fit into.

It is okay to be you and not change to fit in. Being the outcast can be hard and it can make you feel like something is wrong with you. There isn’t. Refer back to point #1 about your values. You are uniquely you and not everyone on earth will appreciate or accept that. That’s okay but it’s also a great sign that it is time to move on.

#5 Employee Benefits

Don’t forget that benefits can be up to 30% of your total compensation when you factor in what your employer does or does not pay for.

Do you carry the benefits for your family? This is an important consideration when deciding whether or not to change jobs or switch companies. Health, dental, and vision are all important considerations but they are not the only benefits you need to look at. To name a few:

  • Maternity leave
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policies
  • Disability- short & long term
  • Flexible spending accounts for healthcare and daycare
  • Life insurance
  • 401k options

Some states mandate better policies than what you can get at a federal level under FMLA. I wrote an article about this issue called The Problem with Maternity Leave in the United States. It is important to remember that while we have very few protections for family leave in the United States, many employers have started to negotiate family-friendly policies to retain good talent.

A top consideration of mine was paid maternity leave before I made the decision to leave my current employer. My current employer is a Fortune 100 company that must comply with FMLA. For pay they offered 6 weeks at 66.5% for a vaginal delivery. At my new company that has 15 employees, I negotiated for 12 weeks of fully paid maternity leave as part of my contract. Flexible policies are possible and you can find them. Do not be discouraged!

My career change as a working mom was a difficult decision. Here are five things to consider before making a career change of your own.

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Monica Froese

Monica is a working mom who lives in Buffalo, NY, and has one daughter who was born in 2012. She has a fantastic husband, Rob, who has encouraged and supported her through the tough transition into working mommy-hood. Her passion is to empower other women who choose to work after having kids and to bring attention to the antiquated policies that plague working mothers in the United States. In April 2015, she traveled to the White House to provide feedback on how current policies impact working moms in a small roundtable with President Obama’s senior advisor. Monica has worked at a Fortune 100 tech company since she was 20 years old. She started while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in legal studies with the intention of going to law school. She ultimately decided to achieve her MBA and is currently a Marketing Manager supporting vertical markets. She enjoys taking time off to have mommy-and-me days with her daughter and spending quiet nights watching late night TV with her husband to unwind from a long day. Monica’s personal blog is Redefining Mom.

6 Comments

  1. Congrats on your new role!

  2. Such good advice here Monica. And something many moms can relate to, especially about finding out the root cause of discord and what you’d lose out on if you left your job. So glad you found a great fit with your new job!

  3. […] I want my story to bring hope to other working moms out there that feel trapped in their current circumstances. Have faith in yourself! I’d love to connect with you and hear your story. For more my practical tips on making a career change please read my recent article Five Things for a Working Mom to Consider Before Making a Career Change. […]

  4. Great post! I’m especially in awe of how you negotiated 12 weeks paid leave with a small business!! Would you be willing to share how you were able to successfully negotiate that? Thank you!

  5. […] Five Things for a Working Mom to Consider Before Making a Career Change […]

  6. Very insightful! Maternity leave policies in the US really are a shame. I had 6 weeks at 60% pay, which wasn’t nearly enough time, so I ended up taking another 6 weeks of unpaid FMLA. Oftentimes we don’t see the “big picture” when accepting a new job, but, as you point out, it is critical to look at all aspects of the job offer and seeing how they hold up when compared to your priorities…

    ~
    Kiki Crabapple

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