Parenting While Professional

[Note from Diva Mama: Parenting While Professional was originally posted on the New York Women in Communications blog, Aloud. I want to extend a personal thank you to NYWICI, editorial maven Michelle Hush, and to co-editor of Aloud, Deanna Utroske, for granting reprint permission and going above and beyond by taking the time to write an additional section for today’s guest blog post.]

Guest Blog by Deanna Utroske:

Perhaps in honor of the Labor Day holiday that recognizes working people and the value we each add to our community and our economy, Shira invited me to contribute a guest post here on the Diva-Mama blog about professional women who are also doing the often un-paid care work of parenting.

In a recent email exchange for a piece I wrote on Parenting While Professional for New York Women in Communications, Shira shared with me what she’s noticed missing in her community to support working mothers as well as the added value the parenting has brought to her work as an entrepreneur.

What’s Needed:

“There simply isn’t enough good, affordable daycare in the world to satisfy the needs of working moms….Most of my nighttime hours are spent taking care of the kids, working/writing and looking for a babysitter….in addition to great daycare, I am an advocate for educating parents and kids about proper nutrition, and am comfortable pushing for legislation at the local and state levels to insure our children are no longer exposed to food and beverages that can destroy them slowly, measurably, from the inside out.”

Kids with Benefits:

“I can honestly say most of the backbone I’ve relied on when developing and launching my various business interests has come from my years of being a single parent. I can be tough, tender and honest with my kids, and with my business associates. I can be easily reduced to a blubbering puddle of tears when my kids touch my heart, and I can likewise be moved when something I’ve worked on in business comes to fruition. And, I am less daunted when things go terribly, unpredictably and thornily wrong.”

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not give too much attention to things when they go wrong. …Focus on what is [working,] and my experience is before you know it everything calms down. The kinks get unwrinkled!”

Read more of the wisdom on Parenting While Professional that Shira shared with me as well as insights from two other stellar professional women, in the original article below.

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“Women are all things at all times.” Speaking at last month’s launch event for McCann Erickson’s global Truth About Moms study, Linda Fears, Family Circle magazine’s Editor in Chief, went on to explain that her readers “are not sometimes moms and sometimes women.”

Linda pointed out that “80% of women with kids work” in professional fields. So let’s capitalize on all that know-how and learn from the experience of three New York Women in Communications professionals:

“Without hesitation, my ultimate first line, go-to parenting resource is me. I have learned to trust my instincts about my kids.” — Shira Adler founded Diva Mama LLC and parents her two children as well as being an unofficial step-mom to three others.

“I was also able to infuse my daughter with a love for critical thinking….when she was about 4 years old: She explained to me that the guy in the mask at the beginning of a Scooby Doo cartoon was always the guy revealed at the end to be the bad guy. I knew that if she could figure that out at 4, she’d be able to handle more complex mysteries later.” — Deirdre Wyeth a website developer who previously worked as Director of Content and Programming for Parenting.com, is the mother of May, who will start her senior year of college in September.

“‘The days are long but the years are short.’ You have to deal with parenting, like working, with both the long view and the short view in mind.” — Gail Griffin, general manager, digital, at Barron’s is mom to two children, ages 4 and 7.

In keeping with Linda’s insight that “women are all things at all times,” we learn from Deidre, Shira and Gail that parenting skills and professional experiences indeed overlap.

Deirdre Wyeth began her career in journalism, where she “learned skills that have been hugely helpful as a parent. Navigating the New York public school system is almost a full-time job, but I was able to use my research and interviewing skills to find schools that were wonderful and perfect for my daughter.”

Shira Adler’s talent for innovation translates well to parenting: “My entrepreneurial style is to be very present to the possibilities of what the moment has to offer.”

“An example: recently I visited a local store in Westchester that is carrying my line of Diva Mama Aromatherapy Synergy Sprays…the P.O.P. display wasn’t connecting with consumers. I took in the information…and developed a whole new strategy to engage my core consumers, right on the spot.”

“I take the same approach with my kids. Both of my children are exceptional but each [is] quite high-strung….I’ve learned to adapt my pre-conception of how things are ‘supposed’ to look vs. what is actually going on.”

Gail Griffin finds that much like the financial markets, the rules of parenthood are in flux. “My career has helped me weather the ups and downs of being a parent by recognizing that parenting, like business, is cyclical. Working in corporate America over the past 20 years, particularly in a job that is tied to the fortunes of the financial markets, has meant living through cycles of boom and bust. I worked through the dot-com boom of the late ‘90s and then through the dot-com crash in 2000, then later through the 2008 financial crisis and now through better, but still tenuous, financial times.”

“Those dramatic ups and downs made” Gail “realize that as tough as times may be with your kids at any given age, they will get better – and when times are good, don’t expect them to last forever. There are always new, different challenges ahead, but at least they keep life interesting.”

You’re a professional and your daughter can be too.

Looking ahead to future generations of professional women, Deirdre advocates for informing and inspiring children about the reality of professional achievements. “When my daughter was young, and I was working, I made a rule that she could only have Barbies that had a job – Vet Barbie, for example. Barbie has to pay for her Corvette and Malibu beach house, right?” In a similar vein, Deirdre wonders why intelligent U.S.-based adults foster the “princess phenomenon.” She hopes we’ll ask ourselves, “Why aren’t we creating the fantasy of the girl who grows up to be a CEO? Or the fantasy of growing up to create an internet startup? Or a great work of art?” “Not only should these ideas resonate with girls, they should also help a daughter understand what you’re doing all day when you aren’t home. You’re sitting in meetings, not having birds and mice sew a ball gown for you.”

“The most important thing is context: When boys play with a firetruck, people say, ‘do you want to be a fireman when you grow up?’ This has the effect of making the boy start thinking in terms of what he will be when he grows up. The same should be true for girls’ toys….Take Barbie clothes: you can talk about design, about sewing, about fabrics, about the business of design and the business of stores. It makes a child think more three-dimensionally about all sorts of things.”

In many ways, the experiences of NYWICI parents like Deirdre, Gail and Shira are in line with McCann Erickson’s Truth About Moms study, which opens with a reminder that moms “are smart, economically-savvy women who are leading technology usage, expertly trading in the currencies of advice and ideas, and realigning the values of the next generation.”

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Deanna Utroske, Aloud blog co-Editor, serves on New York Women in Communications’ Integrated Marketing & Communications Committee and regularly posts to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as part of her contribution to the Social Media Community Team. While squarely in the camp of the 47% + women in the U.S. who do not have children, Deanna is pleased to write on career issues affecting all women.

[Note from Diva Mama: For other great work by Deanna Utroske, check out this list, and make sure to read her thoughts on social media and politics.]

Photo credit: Shira Adler (Kristen Jensen photography), Linda Fears (Westchester Magazine), Deanna Utroske (NYWICI Aloud)

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