Article Date: 6/1/2011

Motherhood, Work and Life
staffing solutions

Motherhood, Work and Life

How to find the right balance in which you—and your family—will thrive.

Bob Levoy, O.D.

The numbers tell the story: 23.2 million mothers—more than 64% of all moms in the United States today—work full- or part-time. That's a significant jump in the number from 1975, according to the Department of Labor. And the burning question for many of them is: What is the right balance between work, motherhood and life?

Based on an extensive survey of nearly 1,000 working mothers with varying incomes and widely-divergent circumstances, a recent book, What Happy Working Mothers Know (Wiley, 2009), written by Cathy L. Greenberg, Ph.D., and Barrett S. Avigdor, J.D., addresses this dilemma.

In the book's introduction, the authors explain that they talked to working moms about how they run their families, cope and achieve happiness in the face of insurmountable odds and hopeless situations. The authors also talked to the kids “who are quick to refute the myths that they've somehow been slighted because their moms work.”

From the trenches

The authors list comments from a focus group of working mothers at a major regional bank at which participants offered the following advice to other working mothers:

► “You are not Superwoman, and it's okay if you can't do it all.”
► “Do what you enjoy, not what people expect of you.”
► “Don't feel you have to justify your decisions.”
► “Stay positive, be organized, and understand the needs and responsibilities of work and how to balance them with family.”
► “Plan for everything, but allow for the unexpected.”
► “Don't expect to do everything to perfection. What you can do is good enough.”
► “‘Compromise’ is the key word to remember.”

“When you're at peace and happy with your choices as a mom,—whether you go to work or stay at home,” say the authors, “you and your children thrive. There is not a right or wrong choice.”

Reality check

A book from the American Academy of Pediatrics concludes there's no scientific evidence to show that children are harmed when their mothers work:

“A child's development is more influenced by the amount of stress in the family, how the family feels about the mother's working and the quality of child care,” according to Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, (Bantam 2009).

Action steps

► In trying to find the right balance among work, motherhood and life, consider whether you are possibly trying to do more than actually needs to be done. As one of the aforementioned focus group participants said, the key word to remember as a working mother is “compromise.”

► In addressing the needs of your associates and staff, “The best answer for working family members,” say the authors, “is for employers to give all their employees—men and women—the flexibility to mold their careers around their changing priorities.” This flexibility can include such options as flexible schedules, part-time work, telecommuting, parental leave (maternity, paternity and adoption) sabbaticals and other innovations of the 21st century workplace.

Implement these action steps, and the result will be a happier, more productive and loyal staff. OM


BOB LEVOY'S NEWEST BOOK “222 SECRETS OF HIRING, MANAGING AND RETAINING GREAT EMPLOYEES IN HEALTH-CARE PRACTICES” WAS PUBLISHED BY JONES & BARTLETT PUBLISHERS. YOU CAN REACH HIM BY E-MAIL AT B.LEVOY@VERIZON.NET.

Optometric Management, Issue: June 2011