Balancing Act | Working Mother

Balancing Act

What's the biggest back-to-school challenge for working moms? According to our survey, it's juggling work and family. Here, tips to strike the right balance this season.

The vast majority of working moms don’t intend to scale back when it comes to readying their children for school this fall, according to our survey of more than 300 working mothers sponsored by Chase Slate. The results found that 41 percent anticipate spending more this year than last year on back-to-school buys. And while it may feel like you interact with your phone or laptop more than with other people most days, according to our survey nearly 70 percent of working moms plan to do most of their shopping in-person. But fitting in a trip to the mall around a demanding work schedule and your kids’ activities can be an issue. In fact, balancing the needs of work and children was the top challenge working moms face heading into the school year.

How are career moms accommodating this? By shifting their work schedules, according to one-third of working moms surveyed. Of those working moms who said they would make a change to their work schedule, 71 percent said they would keep the same hours but adjust the number of hours they work during the day or on the weekend. Additionally, of those career moms who said they would change their work schedule, 85 percent said they feel somewhat or very comfortable doing so. “Flexibility is so important,” says Melissa Gonville, senior marketing director at Chase, and mom to Kamryn, 15, and Keagan, 12. “I don’t think nine-to-five really exists anymore for working moms.” Flexible schedules are becoming the norm at lots of companies, concurs Krista Carothers, senior editor at Working Mother and mom to Jack, 7. “The ‘Working Mother 100 Best Companies,’ for example, all offer some type of flex,” she says. Here are some tips on making this arrangement work for you—and your boss.

Be up-front. Rather than hoping to slip away unnoticed on Thursday afternoon for back-to-school shopping, talk to your boss ahead of time. “Make sure your boss knows you’re prepared to make up the extra hour or two from home in the evening or by coming in to the office early on those days,” says Carothers.

Do your best work. Be sure to get your tasks done well and on time. “Otherwise, your co-workers or manager will think you’re slacking off,” Carothers says. Determine short and long-term goals for yourself and your team and don’t let yourself get sidetracked. “I can only maintain a flexible schedule because I am focused on the company metrics that really matter,” says Amanda Steinberg, founder and CEO of DailyWorth and mom to Dylan, 6, and Maya, 4.

Be persistent. Don’t let a flexible schedule fail because of one snag. If a colleague always schedules important meetings when you’re not there, for example, show your willingness to be a team player by working hard to find a time that works for both of you, perhaps by offering to move another meeting in order to accommodate him or her.

For more tips on balancing the demands of work and school, check out our two-part video series featuring working moms Melissa Gonville, Krista Carothers and Amanda Steinberg.

Kim Schworm Acosta is a freelance writer and working mom of two in Overland Park, Kansas.

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