How to Grow Professionally as a Working Mom. By: Wanda M. Coleman, D.Min.
I know you may have heard it before, even thought about it. Having a baby comes with mixed emotions for women because they are not quite sure how this new life they are carrying is going to fit into their life. They are wondering how they will be the best mother for their child, the best partner for their spouse, and the best employee for their jobs. The truth of the matter is that change happens when you become a mother. Yet somehow, women figure it out, but not without much trial and error. One of the things that mothers begin to see is that just because you are a mother doesn’t mean you have to give up your life and dreams. Some things will be sacrificed. Some things may be delayed or postponed. But being a mom doesn’t mean that you have to forfeit working. It doesn’t have to be, “I am a mom, but…” Working moms have the power to change the narrative and say, “I’m a mom, and…” Working moms begin to realize that they can have families and pursue their dreams! They can raise children and be a voice in the boardroom.
We have to change the narrative and part of changing the narrative is determining how working moms can grow professionally on the jobs and in their areas of expertise. One of the things that a working mom must do is change her mindset. I had to change my mindset when it came to the way I thought of myself as a mother and as a working woman. I was not a bad mom. I was not an adequate employee. These are some of the things I would tell myself if I couldn’t be with my children every waking second, or if I had an especially trying day at work. Sometimes we can get trapped in our minds and thoughts, believing that if I am a mother, then I am only able to go so far in the workplace. But that is not true. You will go as far as your faith, heart, mind, and passion take you. One of the thoughts that will need to change is that you are forsaking your children and family for your job. That is not true either. For many mothers, working gives them a sense of purpose beyond the home front. Working makes them happy and when Mama is happy, then the house runs better.
Work on you.
To grow professionally as a working mom, it is good to begin working on you. Seek spiritual guidance and/or counsel. Be aware of what’s going on with you inwardly so that you can get the needed help to heal those areas. You do not want whatever is happening on the inside to spill over into other areas of your life. Oftentimes when we haven’t dealt with matters of the heart, those matters tend to play out in our lives personally and professionally. As a working mom, I wanted to advance in my area of expertise, but I was very insecure. I wasn’t confident in my abilities at times. I was a perfectionist and a people pleaser. It wasn’t until I went to therapy and begin to share my heart, and the reason why I needed to talk to someone that my therapist was able to peel back layers of rejection that began at an early age.
We don’t tend to see the correlation between why we are not advancing in the workplace and what may have been planted in our minds, heart, and spirit long ago. There is a correlation between spiritual growth and professional growth. As you begin to work on you, you will begin to see how issues of worth, esteem and insecurities play a role and are often the culprits that are preventing you from advancing. Working on you is a form of self-care that can be practiced daily and will cause you to be more self-aware.
Stay up to date with technology and the latest trends in your area of expertise.
Employers are often understanding of the fact that a woman has a gap in employment history because she chose to stay home and raise her children. What helps with the gap in employment is demonstrating that you haven’t lost sight of what’s happening in your area of expertise and showing a willingness to grow professionally. Take time to read articles and participate in forums. It demonstrates while you were away you were still learning.
Invest in professional/leadership development training.
Take advantage of opportunities to be a part of groups, such as Toastmasters. Toastmasters help people learn to communicate with confidence and aid in leadership development. Take a communications course to better hone communication skills. Also, take advantage of any certifications that may be offered for free or a low rate at a community college. Working moms have limited time, so make the most out of your time by investing in yourself. Begin to see yourself as someone who has needs. You are worth the investment.
Working moms desire promotion and elevation in the workplace. They want to be recognized. Having and raising responsible children is one of my greatest achievements. I’m glad I had the opportunity to leave the workforce and stay home with them when they were young so that I can be there and help shape their formative years. And I’m also happy that I worked outside of the home. Working allowed me to change gears and to interact with people outside of the home. It allowed me to learn and grow professionally. I learned better time management as a mother and a professional. I learned greater empathy for others in the workplace because in some situations I was able to put myself in their shoes. Don’t buy into the narrative that because you are a mom you are now limited as a professional. The only limits you have are the ones you place on yourself.