Many women have already achieved an executive career with a high salary before beginning a mom. These high-powered women then are faced with the task of juggling their executive career with new motherhood duties. While it may seem daunting at first, there are many ways that working moms can maintain our executive career status at work, and be a great mom as well.
You can take a few key steps before having a baby, during the early months and afterwards to make sure you'll be able to maintain your executive career.
Before Having a Baby
Be Aggressive. Whether you're in the office, dealing with clients, or performing the main tasks for your job, be aggressive. Don't be the person who just does her job and leaves each day at 5 p.m. Before you have children is when overtime doesn't matter as much; it's also a time when you can be a workaholic. You don't have motherhood responsibilities yet, so go for the gusto. Work the extra hours, and show your employer that you're a team player. Go after that new big client, even if you think it's out of reach.
Be Prepared. Someone who maintains an executive career never walks into a meeting or approaches a project without being prepared. Do your research before making a business presentation, and make sure whatever your job entails, you are always prepared. Be ready to answer questions pertaining to the subject at hand, by tapping your personal and professional network as well as all other research sources.
Be Proactive. Don't simply react to your boss. Don't wait for your boss to ask you to perform a task you know will be required. Instead, be proactive and perform your job duties that need to be done ahead of deadline. To maintain an executive career you need to be one step ahead, and not leave any loose ends hanging when it comes to completing a task.
Be Organized. You can't maintain an executive career in the midst of clutter or chaos. In some cases, if you have an executive career you may have an assistant who can do a lot of this organizing for you. But many executives today are in charge of their own office organization. This is for your paper files, as well as you computer files and e-mails. Be sure to organize everything in a fashion where you aren't searching for information at the last minute.
Be Consistent. While we all have good and bad days, you need to have a true consistency in your job performance to properly succeed at an executive career. Always be thorough when you hand in a project for review. If you have a consistently good job performance on record, you likely will be able to maintain your executive career through various stages of your life.
Adopt a Good Work Ethic. To maintain an executive career you must have a good work ethic that allows you to show you always have good intentions. Pursue every project in the proper way. Don't cut corners, or seek to manipulate coworkers or your boss. Instead, always be upfront, never hide information from coworkers or your boss, and make sure at the end of the day you're proud of your work performance.
Once you've decided to have a baby, start thinking about how you'll be able to maintain your executive status while performing your new motherhood duties. If you have a good work ethic and a solid job performance under your belt, an employer may allow you to have a flexible work schedule, offer you the ability to work some days from home or to work part time. But don't assume that these concessions are required for you to be the mom you want to be -- much depends on your child care situation and your spouse's work demands.
Once you become pregnant and announce your pregnancy at work, decide whether you want to discuss alternative work schedules with your employer. If so, have a proposal in mind about how you can maintain your executive career without working long hours that will cut into your parenting time. If you've paid your dues in the workplace before having a baby, there are likely many options for combining your high-powered career with motherhood. On the other hand, if your husband or partner works a less demanding job, you may be able to continue on the fast track.
It's also good to start thinking about your childcare options. If your salary allows for a full-time nanny, this childcare option may help you maintain your executive career without worry. Day care centers are also a viable choice. Visiting day care centers to learn about pricing and programs should be done early on in your planning for a baby, since you may be on a wait list for over a year in some major metro areas. Similarly, you may want to start interviewing nannies as well, and weigh the pros and con of each situation.
Above all, when you are committed to an executive career, be aware of the stereotypes people may have about working mothers as less engaged or responsive to work demands. These myths are largely responsible for working moms being shunted to the mommy track, where you receive fewer opportunities and less pay. You can advocate for your child and your career at the same time.