As one mom wrote:
“I used to love my job (in a nonprofit) before my twins were born a little over a year ago, but something has shifted and it no longer feels like as good a fit. That makes leaving my kiddos every morning that much tougher, because it feels like I'm sacrificing my time with them only to stay in the career game long-term, not because I actually want to be doing what I'm doing all day. At the same time, I know I don't want to stay home full-time and our nanny is a wonderful presence in their lives.
Complicating matters is that, on paper, I couldn't imagine a better work situation - they've been super flexible with me, allowing me to cut back on hours and travel; I truly enjoy my colleagues and consider many of them friends; I get paid well considering I work in the nonprofit sector; and I do believe in our mission and the work in general. There have been other shifts in my role and responsibilities that make it less enjoyable than it was before, but on balance I know I've got it really good. So part of me feels crazy even questioning it. (And who ever said we should expect to love our jobs all the time, anyway? That seems like an overly-privileged, not to mention unrealistic, expectation.)
Have any of you felt something shift after having your first child, and made a job change as a result? How did you decide what else you wanted to do?
Most importantly, are there any guided resources you can recommend? Someone recently recommended a weekly group led by her career coach, but the time and significant cost ($500+) involved feel overwhelming. That said, I know I won't have the focus or discipline to do something completely DIY like reading the copy of "What Color Is My Parachute?" sitting on my bookshelf.”
Find out about new career options within the company:
“My question for you is whether there is any option to change roles at your company. If they are so flexible, is it possible to sit with your manager and discuss career path, and see if there is any way to shape your job into something more fulfilling? The answer may be no, but it does bear asking if you like the environment and people so much.”
Consider the things you value that you might lose with a job switch:
“I feel like I'm in a similar situation, even though my kid is older. Where I've landed is that it makes sense to stay somewhere that allows for flexibility and comfort during the early years. Imagine the flip side- finding a new position that may provide less flexibility to you overall, and show less understanding of your situation all while having to prove yourself in a new environment to new colleagues. Would you have to go in early and stay late to show your dedication? Would they be as understanding of having sick kids at home? Would they not care about extended travel assignments? It may be worth sticking it out until you have more personal freedom to explore more challenging opportunities. Perhaps a mindset shift is in order - that this is the job that helps you have some separation from home life and keep your head in the professional game until the time is right to make a major change. This is mostly me projecting, but its all stuff I've considered recently.”
Job search through networking:
“I think in all jobs there are inflection points where the job is no longer the right fit for all kinds of reasons. It may have nothing to do with having a child. I think the benefits, flexibility etc you mentioned can sustain you for a bit but not long term. Suggest you start looking for your next gig - maybe just network as widely as you can.”
Switch! Find something challenging:
“I took a lesser respected job when I had baby #2 which sustained me for about 3 years because at that time, I needed an easier schedule, less responsibility, etc. After 3 years, I yearned for more and so I changed jobs. It can't hurt to look around and see what's out there but don't underestimate the value of the flexibility you have at this stage of motherhood.”
Switch if it will help your career:
“I just decided to take a job that is far more demanding than my current position [...] I have a lot of fear about being out of the "big" game for too long—stagnating. I'm not getting any younger, and I have a (possibly irrational) fear that if I don't keep myself out there, I'll end up a fizzle. I'm taking a big pay cut from my last full-time gig, but I've also never been so excited about a company's culture, I see there is room to grow, it's a good company to have on my resume, and I know I am going to learn a lot (plus I hope to stay for a long time). I decided that in the end I have to give it my best shot. The best case scenario—it's damn tough when the baby comes, but I pull my own and realize I've found a great work match/ worst case: it just doesn't work and I everyone moves on with their lives.
Even before I had my son, I knew I needed to find a job in a company that was similar to the one I've finally landed at, so it's been a long time coming, and I can't let this chance slip through my fingers, but I know come autumn it's going to be some kind of rollercoaster...
Main fear really: I have this naggy-achy hovering thought that the new baby won't be getting the best deal in comparison to their older bro (with mom over a year??). The original article that started this thread helped a bit, but it felt like it was more about older kids, not babies. I'm worried about this little person being more familiar and bonded with the nanny than me. But I look around, and I see that families have been doing this forever, and kids seem fine. Geez, I mean I was the same, and so was my husband, and we seem to be ok (mostly)? But i've got more reading and research to do to settle my mind I guess.”
Lean in and think about the long term:
"I have taken jobs with increasingly responsibility since I had my first child. I go in with the belief that it will all work out somehow. The thing about increased responsibility is that the higher up in management you are, the more flexibility you have. Your impact is what counts - no one tracks high level people's hours or even days off. Of course you have a lot riding on you including the future of your team members but I personally feel women overthink these issues. My advice is to lean in. if it doesn't work out you can make a change but you really can't predict the specific dynamics you are walking into. And I don't think sticking around for flexibility reasons feels that great in the long run.”
Consider what you really need right now, not what you want:
"When I had my first daughter and was offered a not so great consulting gig that would allow me to work from home but was basically testing ROI on advertising to 14-24 year olds. I’m fairly anti-advertising to tweens and teens, so this felt a little like I would be working on a smoking campaign. My ethics and needs were at odds. Someone mentioned that perhaps at this juncture in my life the fact that it fit my needs and wasn’t something I was passionate about and that it might be okay for now. So I took the gig, got the flexibility I wanted, got to keep my skills up to date in market research, and gave me some great money.
I mention this because sometimes we just have to “do the job” and not worry so much about whether we’re passionate about it or if it feeds our soul; it’s feeding our families and giving us some other benefits. Mike Row has a great TED Talk about it—he was the host of Dirty Jobs and in his talk he confronts this myth surrounding “Follow your Passion” to be happy. I’ve skipped to the most relevant part but the whole talk is worthwhile."
Finally, work has highs, lows (and something in between):
“Hang in there mamas. Balancing work and parenting is hard. You will have good days and days where you know you should have just stayed in bed. But don't doubt yourself for having to or wanting to work. What we do is important and what we show our kids matters.”
Related reading on PSP:
How to connect your way into your next job
Should I take a break from work?
Starting a new job after maternity leave
How to Negotiate Work Life Balance When Job Hunting