I’ve always been a woman of many interests and activities, starting from when I was a teenager in choir, band and showing off livestock at weekend fairs, to name a few. You could frequently find me eating dinner in the car between events, but I loved it. As you can imagine, by the time I reached the workforce, one job was not enough.
I began to get my foot in the door of volunteering, attending events, networking, taking on more internal projects at work and even trying to boost my social life by starting the Kent State University Cheerleading Alumni. I was staying busy and fulfilled, but there was something else I wanted – a baby.
Unfortunately, there is this stigma across all women – some self-inflicted, and some inflicted by their workplace – that you can’t be a successful businesswoman and have a baby. The stigma that women won’t be effective on maternity leave and after. We women worry about having the support and flexibility that we need to maintain a home life, being able to leave work temporarily then come back to work and still raise our child.
Most women think they need to choose one lifestyle: being a mom, or having a career. I was among them when I initially wondered how I could possibly have a child and keep my current lifestyle. This choice causes us all internal conflict and stress. Sometimes it causes us to make that awful decision, mom or career.
I decided I didn’t want to make that choice, and I was lucky enough to receive the support of my family, friends, job and organizations to be able to do both. I had my child and took time off, then went back to work. I adjusted my schedule to leave right at 5 p.m. and go home to be a mother and wife. As soon as the baby went to sleep, I was back to work at home. My first year back, I became the Director of Sales and drove $4 million in business sales.
I made a decision to have a child and a career, and so can you. Talk with your employer about flexibility and working different hours or from home from time to time. Get to work a little earlier and go home a little earlier, or find some routine that works for you. Show your employer that you can still drive results, and they will be willing to work with the flexibility you need.
My biggest piece of advice is that you can do it all, but you must be selective in what you do and when you do it. Women are superheroes and we can make things happen when we want it. Women are even more driven to get their work done when they have children, because they want to spend time with them and get everything else out of the way.
It is my choice to take on everything that I do. I still work full-time and am active in different committees and organizations. I even just started my own Women’s Leadership Conference of Northeast Ohio. I’m living, breathing proof, along with many other women, that being a successful business woman and having a baby can go hand-in-hand with the right planning and desire to make it work.