How staying at home to raise my kids lead to more work opportunities and the confidence to take them on.
It's one of the biggest issues facing new Moms - the question of whether to put off a career in order to stay home raising our babies full-time, or whether to go back to work and focus on advancing our careers while we can. Historically, there's always been this perception that leaving the workforce during our prime earning years will severely hamstring our earning potential and career options later on. It's one of the most intensely difficult decisions women make - and is based on an outdated premise that one cannot start a robust, exciting, fulfilling and high-earning career at any stage in our lives.
I remember feeling the intense scrutiny and judgment of working Moms when I opted to be a stay-at-home parent in those early years of my kids lives (I have three boys). There was an underlying assumption that I had chosen cookie baking, daytime television watching, play-dates, crafting and diaper changes over being a valued contributor to the economy - because let's face it, nobody truly values at-home Moms anymore (other than at-home Moms). To many, I had chosen to be a reproductive member of society versus a productive member of society.
But I always felt a confident belief that I could have it both ways if I wanted to. So I entered the freelance economy instead of the nine-to-five economy and found fulfilling jobs in the television industry that worked around my schedule and my kids' schedule. It wasn't luck, it was choice. I worked from 6-9pm, twice a week for 6 years doing an on-demand broadcast in English and French back when on-demand was cutting edge - it paid very well and was structured around my home-life - no babysitting needed. Along the way, opportunity found me precisely because I was an "at-home" Mom. Turns out, the best way to appeal to the coveted target market of "at-home" Moms is to be one! Who better to appeal to women 35-55, with disposal income, that watch daytime television and are the primary shoppers in the family, than to be in that exact demographic. There were many, many times that I was favoured for a job because I wasn't a man, wasn't 25, wasn't a full-time career woman.
On TV, my credibility as a product spokesperson was tied to the fact that I was a Mom - "Here she is, she's a busy Mom, she's cooking meals for her family, she loves this stand-mixer because she uses it and so you'll love it for your family too!" It made me relatable. There was one product in particular that was represented by a well-known celebrity chef, but sales were slagging. Great product, great chef, great demonstrations, but something was missing. Turns out the women who were watching at home on TV just could not relate to a man deglazing a sauce for a 5-star restaurant recipe...but they could relate to a Mom who was trying to fit six grilled-cheese sandwiches in a pan at once to feed a frenzy of kids on a Saturday at lunch. I was brought in to tag-team the sell and it worked - the chef did his thing and then the Mom made it relatable.
Being an at-home Mom teaches you incredible time management skills (you have kids nap time to cram an entire day of projects into 2 hours), efficiency (how can I do a full order of groceries with three kids in a cart in less than 8-minutes?) and the ability to adapt quickly to challenging situations (kid just barfed and we're stuck in traffic and other kid is screaming and I have dentist appointment in 7 minutes...deal with it). Not only do you gain the confidence to manage anything that comes your way, but you gain the fortitude of character to just flat out say "no" to situations that don't satisfy your needs.
When my youngest son was in grade one, I was offered an incredible full-time opportunity at a company that I had long worked for as a freelancer. As a Mom, knowing my priorities were at home, I was able to say "yes - but only on my terms" - that meant the flexibility to start and end work when I needed to, and the ability to work from home when I wanted to. I was offered a very generous salary that full-time working peers had spent years working towards. Never once did I doubt that my decade-long lack of nine-to-five experience would hinder my ability to tackle that job. I was actually amazed at how much easier full-time work was over being at-home with the kids all day!! A lunch break?! Adult conversation!? No negotiating with someone on their back in tears?! It was great. But it didn't last - a major corporate restructuring affected dozens of my colleagues and I. Almost as soon as it began it was over and I wasn't overly distraught about it. My home-life had suffered.
So once again, I entered the freelance economy and to this day, 13 years after giving birth to my eldest, it has proven to be the best choice for me and my family. I work part-time, on my terms, earning what many consider to be a full-time salary. Opportunities abound as "Moms" are still in high demand. As a spokesperson, media trainer and writer, I am always busy earning a living doing what I love, and I truly believe that the opportunities that I have are because I am a Mom, not despite being a Mom. If you're an at-home Mom, never sell yourself short, keep a foot in the door on a part-time or freelance basis and never let the negative stigma of "at-home Mom" limit your ability to earn an income. You are marketable, you are in-demand and you have a lot more power than you think you do! Almost all consumer goods companies want a piece of you and opportunities abound in the world of marketing, media and sales and more. All you need to do is put yourself out there and go after it...if you want it!
If you would like guidance or assistance in building your own personal brand, marketing yourself, or selling yourself in the workforce, let me know! Happy to help.