How Smart Moms Balance Family and Work: Strategies for Thriving Off the Traditional, Linear Career Track
A traditional, steadily uphill career path isn’t for everyone, and many moms reject it. Fortunately, opting out of a full-time professional job for more flexibility and time with your kids doesn’t have to mean sacrificing work satisfaction or financial rewards. Some moms find well-paying part-time work and some carve out a comfortable niche as a freelancer or consultant. Some wind up owning and running a booming new business.
Kimberly Palmer has talked with myriad moms who’ve chosen a more winding career path. In her new book, SMART MOM, RICH MOM: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family (AMACOM; June 9, 2016), she shares these mompreneur-tested tips and strategies for success:
- Stay in the professional game. “Keep working in some capacity,” Palmer urges, “even during the most challenging years when you are sleep deprived, juggling multiple children under age five, and stressed to your limits.” Take on short-term assignments. Blog, coach, and mentor.
- Build your personal brand online. Highlight your skills on LinkedIn and Twitter. Keep up with and connected to your professional contacts and networks.
- Create your own space. If you aim to work from home, then you need a dedicated space for working. “Setting some boundaries about where and when you’re working can make it easier for the other members of your family to help you be productive,” Palmer assures.
- Get ultra-organized with paperwork. Freelancing, consulting, contract work, as well as launching a business, means saying goodbye to a steady paycheck from one employer. You’ll have income coming in from a variety of sources. “Create a tracking system that keeps you from getting overwhelmed,” advises Palmer, “and makes it easy to file taxes, with or without the help of a tax accountant.”
- Keep saving. Take advantage of tax benefits for working parents, such as pretax spending accounts that can help reduce the cost of child care. Even when earning outside of a job with a 401(k), find a way to save for retirement through Roth IRAs or traditional IRAs. Make investing a regular practice.
- Be open to reinventing yourself and your career. “Smart moms know that the workforce, and their families, are constantly changing, which means the amount and type of work they want to do is changing, too,” notes Palmer. Tap into your gifts, passions, and values. Stay open to possibilities. Say yes to the right opportunities. Be willing and always ready to make adjustments.
Adapted from Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family by Kimberly Palmer (AMACOM June 2016).
KIMBERLY PALMER, author of The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life, was the senior money editor at US News & World Report for nine years. She is an adjunct professor at American University, where she teaches a course on mastering social media. She lives with her family, including two children, in the Washington, D.C., area.