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By the age of 28, I was living my career dream — I'd already served as an editor for several local and regional publications. Then my husband and I decided it was time to start a family. Just three months into my pregnancy I started a new job as managing editor of a lifestyle magazine in my hometown of Scottsdale. At that time I had no intention of ever being a stay-at-home or work-from-home-mom.
But that instantly changed the moment I met my son. I knew my passion for my career had been trumped by a bigger, much more unconditional love. I tried to go back to work (perhaps too soon, now that I think about it since I was back to work — albeit from home — just three weeks after my son was born) but I soon realized that my heart and my head were elsewhere.
I persevered. I wasn't totally ready to admit that I wasn't cut out to be a full-time working mom. Six months later, I found myself googling from-home telemarketing jobs because I would do anything to be with my son — and future daughter — for more than a few hours a day.
Then it (finally) occurred to me that I could still do what I love — write — without leaving my son for eight or more hours five days a week. I had a few freelance writing gigs in place when I put in my notice. But to be honest, I had no idea how it was all going to pan out.
Fast-forward six years. I am sometimes busier than I care to admit but I will never take my freelance career for granted. It has given me the ability to be room mom for my kids' classrooms, to see every class performance and to volunteer for field trips. Sometimes I work well into the night but I get to drop my kids off at school and pick them up. I wouldn't trade it for the world. And I encourage all moms who want a better work-home life balance to seek it out, take a chance and don't look back.
Of course, I would never advise you to jump without a parachute, so I called in some experts to help you achieve your dream while maintaining your #1 role of Mom.
Kim Blackham, a licensed marriage and family therapist, advises moms to brainstorm what it is that they love to do and then see how other people are making money doing the same thing. She adds, "Find a mentor that is in a similar life circumstance to you and interview them. It takes a lot of the research out of the equation if you can talk to someone who has been there and done it already."
If you're having trouble pinpointing what you love to do, think about the things you already do that could be parlayed into an at-home career. Karin Pinter, master NLP practitioner and life and business coach advises moms to "think of the things you like to do for your kids that can become a home-based business. Do you cook awesome healthy snacks that can easily be packaged and sold? Are you the 'best mom in the neighborhood' that other moms look up to for your skills and would leave their kids at a home-based daycare?"
She encourages moms to use every "free" moment as a chance to advance their new at-home career, especially moms of little ones who nap often. She suggests using that time to take online classes, start writing a book, learn an instrument or do other business-related tasks.
It's also important to be realistic about your dream job and your responsibilities as a mother. Suzanne Strisower, a certified life and business coach says, "One of the things I always tell mothers is that you don't need to be super mom. I start with what it is that they are doing, work out the timing for that and workable schedules to see that there realistically is or isn't the time to do that dream job. Once that's established, then we look at the desired career, explore the amount of hours required and then compare it to their current schedule to see what needs to stay, be given up or how, as their child gets older, they can ultimately transition into that."
I encourage all moms who want more out of life to reach for the stars — I'm proof that you can be a mom and maintain a career. If I can do it, I know you can too.