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Satisfaction in the Workplace: 5 Factors Important to Working Moms
byBrooke JuliaMay 03, 2015
Being a working mother means you must do some adjusting to have happiness in both places. "Sometimes sacrifices at the office need to be made in order to increase well-being at home," says Tracy Mouser, a career counselor at the Montana State University in Billings, Montana. "Coming home to a big hug from people who love you unconditionally is worth all of the juggling it takes to keep a career and a family afloat." Making it work means looking for workplace qualities that support your home values.
"One of the most important elements for me in finding the right employer is that of flexibility," says Ellen Theodores, a licensed clinical social worker in Brunswick, Maine. "As a mom, things definitely come up which draw you away from your work, and there has to be a strong commitment from both the potential employer and the employee to make sure all needs are getting met." Mouser recommends asking direct questions of the employer. Among them are what the time-off policies are, does it understand a mom's need to miss time due to childcare issues, and is the schedule flexible enough to handle child-related activities.
It's no secret children get sick. You've got wellness checkups, immunizations, braces and eye glasses to think of, not to mention the germ-happy atmosphere of daycare and school. With these additional considerations, Mouser recommends looking for a job that offers a health benefits package for the whole family, not just the employee. Affordability is key, too, even if it comes at the cost of a slightly smaller paycheck. "Sometimes a great benefits package can offset a lower salary," she says.
Having a job that acts as a support system to your life at home can go far in helping you keep your sanity. Look for work where there are "other moms in the workplace with whom you can swap stories and commiserate," says Mouser. Consider your surroundings as well. "Can you hang up pictures of your kids in your office?" Mouser asks. "Are there lunch-time exercise classes you can take that will help you care for yourself while not taking time away from home?" Equally important is having the leniency and privacy to pump breast milk when you need to.
Responsibilities double or triple for new mothers, Theodores says. As the child grows, you'll have extra obligations too. Mouser recommends you find a job that allows you to keep up with the child's needs. She says you need to consider its proximity to your home, the child's school or daycare. The hours should blend in what you need to outside of work. You'll need to ask yourself if the job responsibilities will spill over into your family time, and if that job is worth it.
Never underestimate the importance of simply being happy at work. "Make sense of your own priorities and values," says Zak Mooney, a therapist at Healing Circles Wellness Center in Frederick, Maryland. Theodores agrees. "Take some time sit in a quiet space, preferably alone, and ask your heart what is really important," she says. "Come up with maybe three things or values which you would want to hold true both as a woman and mother. This, of course, is a unique process for everyone depending on their own desires and circumstances."