Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Don’t eat lunch in your office!

I know it’s tempting cause you have a lot to do, but lunch can be an important connection time. And don’t just wait for someone to ask you. Take the initiative and ask one of your peers. It will show you’re interested in them and open to do more than just come to work. You’re leaning in, building relationships and showcasing all that you bring to the table.

That’s how single mom’s lean in!

Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Be sure to get miles for all your travel!

Most companies tend to favor or use only one airline and often times frequent certain hotels. Be sure you have frequent flier or rewards program memberships so that you can gain miles for all the business travel you do. Then, turn around and use those miles to help you take a trip for pleasure, with or without the kids!

Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

If you’re suffering from insomnia, try working out at night.

I know this goes against what you typically hear. However, I know that single moms who are leaning in often times have so much on our plate that we cannot shut our brains off at night to get some much needed rest. I find if I get the girls in bed, do a couple of things, and then get on the treadmill or do a dvd, that after I cool off, I can barely keep my eyes open. It’s usually the best sleep I get all week.

Stop complaining!

Alexander Kjerulf, aka The Chief Happiness Officer and best-selling author of 3 books, published a list of the Top 10 reasons why constant complaining is so toxic in the work place. The #1 reason: It makes thing look worse than they are. 

I know things can be hard as a working, single mom trying to lean in, but let’s face it – focusing on it all the time, mentioning it in every conversation definitely makes it seem worse. It can also have a direct negative impact on what you’re trying to accomplish.

In general, most women like to share and in many cases, this sharing takes on the form of complaining, especially at work. We complain about spouses, ex-spouses, kids, teachers, coaches, coworkers. Women bond over mutual misery. So sharing is a way of connecting for us. However, complaining also tells people an awful lot about ourselves. For everything we say, there is interpretation and conclusions drawn.

Complaints can: Impact others perception of how much you can handle

As you describe situations that have overwhelmed you with your children or your ex or your household, you are painting a picture of yourself for the listener. You are showing them that you cannot handle your current situation. Some people, particularly men, will believe what you say. If you say you are too busy or never have time for yourself, then they are unlikely to invite you to after work or weekend activities. It is very likely that they will exclude you in the spirit of helping or supporting you.  They may also jump to conclusions. If you stress about getting the kids or not having anyone to keep them during certain times, a manager may assume you cannot make an early or late meeting. They may even decide that it is too difficult for you to travel. These assumptions (again in their mind, they’re being considerate) will limit your access, exposure and opportunity.

It’s important that you stop the complaining about how little time you have and start showing how great your time management skills are because they have to be. Or show how you have creatively surrounded yourself with resources, friends and family who can help alleviate some of your time conflicts and pressures.

Complaints can: Make you look weak

How do we handle people we feel sorry for? We pat them on the head. We coddle them. We don’t tell them to get up and make something happen. We don’t give them more to do or more responsibility. If people feel sorry for you, they see you as weak, or at least weaker than themselves. Successful people seem strong. It is hard enough as a woman to ‘look’ the part when it comes to high powered jobs, as Sandberg talked about in Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. She even talked about it being okay to show emotion at work, but only when that emotion was based on passion, which is a strong emotion. It was not from weakness.

Weak will never be a word used to describe a leader in any situation. So it cannot describe you – personally or professionally.

Complaints can: Reflect on your ability or inability to handle your own consequences

There are two sides to every story. If you are divorced, understand that no matter what happened, your divorce is a consequence of your choices. You decided to marry the person you did or you decided to divorce the person you married. Either way, your current situation is a consequence of your decisions, not your coworkers or your boss. When you complain, it can send the message that you do not believe or understand that certain consequences should have been expected or even planned for.  Many women will say that they didn’t want the divorce. Although this may be true, it does not matter in the end. Your personal situation is your own burden to carry, not the burden of those around you at work.

When you handle the consequences of single motherhood and working with grace and poise, it will do one of two things, make you, being a single mom, a non-issue in regards to professional growth and development or make you a rock star. Either one is the result you want. 

Nobody likes a whiner, even if your complaints are valid

The truth is you are handling a lot and that is an asset. A single mom has to wear many hats as all mom’s do, but for a single mom, there’s no choice. If a child is up all night, you have to be the one to stay up with them and still go to work in the morning. You can handle one more thing because you don’t have a choice. This is the positive perception that can be created as a single mom. Stories from your everyday life, told from a place of strength and pride – not complaining, will likely make you seem like a superhero. Those stories may even put others who have a hard enough time just getting themselves out of bed and dressed in the morning to shame. Most importantly, it shows that you really can handle a lot – at home and work.

That’s how single mom’s lean in!

 

Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Offer to attend evening events on the days you don’t have kids.

For some single moms, like me, you have kids all the time, so this may not apply directly to you. But for those of you that have a schedule with your ex that includes every Thursday or another weekday, this is a great opportunity for you because it’s pretty much guaranteed in advance, you’ll be free. So take advantage and step up and attend a dinner or happy hour or networking event on behalf of the company. It’s great exposure for you and you look like a team player who’s willing to lean in.

Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Search high and low to find all-day camps!

Summer is what divides working moms from stay-at-home moms. When the school year ends, they’re celebrating while we’re cringing. Most camps cater to the stay at home mom’s schedule with a 9am-2pm curriculum. However there are still some all-day options out there.  They are the only thing that will make your summer tolerable. So start your search early and seek them out. When in doubt, find your local Y!

Single mom households bring in 70% less than breadwinning mom’s households

There’s an awful lot of talk these days about single mom’s. It’s probably because in 2010, an estimated 41% of babies were born to unwed mothers! I like to keep up with the latest discussion around single moms, especially as it relates to our well being and ability to provide for our families. Below you will find this week’s round-up of articles that talk about the state of single mom’s, many who are trying hard to lean in.

There’s one in particular I found very interesting. It comes to us from Syracuse University. The story focused on a report by Pew Research that found that 40 percent of households in the U.S. with children under the age of 18 rely on mom for either the only paycheck or the family’s top paycheck. In 1960, only 11 percent of families had a mom who was the primary or sole wage earner, according to the report. It goes on to say that these moms are basically split into 2 distinct groups: those who bring home a solid, middle-class wage and then there are single, working mothers who make little more than minimum wage. Now this is where it gets interesting and where we as a community need to focus.

“There are 5.1 million married mothers like Fierke who are bringing home their family’s largest paycheck. Most have at least a college degree. The median income in their households is $80,000 – well above the median for all families with children, which is $57,000, according to the Pew study.

The median income for the single moms is $23,000. They usually do not have an advanced degree, the study found. And, at 8.6 million, they far outnumber the married breadwinning moms.”

– from Mom’s the breadwinner, Dad’s making sandwiches, syracuse.com/news by Marnie Eisenstadt

Ok…single mom’s lean in! If you are a single mom, this is a very important article for us. If you are a single mom running a household for your family, you need to start thinking today about how you can personally help raise this median income. Our kids deserve better!

First, if you don’t have a degree – get some kind of degree or technical certification. A medical assistant program is 2 years, taking the extra step of getting certified can earn you an average of $41,000, according to indeed.com.

If you already have a degree, decide if it’s time to consider an advanced degree. Below are a few comparisons of bachelor’s vs. master’s degree earnings from careerbuilder.com:

Bachelor’s degree: $33,242
Master’s degree: $43,997
Degree type: Philosophy
Bachelor’s degree: $34,163
Master’s degree: $43,112
Bachelor’s degree: $37,874
Master’s degree: $56,094
You’ll notice that in each of these cases the advanced degree
significantly increases the average salary, which means more to
invest in the well being of your family.

Finally, if you’ve been working in the same place for a while, it might be time to consider a job change. It’s important to understand that the same job may bring in a different level of income in different industries. Also, if you are highly valued at your company for a skill set that is advanced and unique, a company that hasn’t gotten used to your high level of commitment and contribution will likely be even more impressed with your accomplishments. Looking for a new job also gives you the opportunity to negotiate your salary. Negotiating a raise is much harder than negotiating a new salary. You are much more likely to be successful and it never hurts to see what might be out there and what you might be worth!

That’s how single mom’s lean in!

Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Postpone competitive sports as long as you can!

I believe kids should be involved in extra-curricular activities, but try to keep them recreational until they get a little older. There’s plenty of time to spend your entire weekend sweating at a ballpark. While they’re young, save Saturdays for sleeping in, cartoons and the occasional birthday party.

 

Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Make your commute a “me” moment!

If you’re a commuter, I know many of us use this time to check voicemails, take conference calls and more. I think you can use this time to clear your mind. Try driving to work with the radio off, taking no calls. This may be your only quiet moment of the day. Enjoy it!

How do you do it?

A question I’ve heard many times and I know all of you have too. On the face of it, I think it can be taken as a compliment, but as a single mom who’s really trying to lean in, I think we need to think about what this question really means and how we answer it.

In many cases I believe the questioner is really saying, “Wow! I’m amazed at how you are able to do everything you do so well.” I believe another possible sentiment behind this question is just that – a question. “Tell me how you do it, cause I need help effectively managing everything that’s on my plate.” However I also believe some of those asking this question are actually saying, “I pity you.”

This last one is the one we never want. See, that sense of pity will not help when you want to be considered for a new challenge or the next promotion. So, I think we need to be very careful and thoughtful when we get ready to answer this question.

I believe our response should focus on the following:

  • Being Honest and Humble

Acknowledge that it can be difficult at times but you have a village who helps you from

your sitter to your mom to the wonderful team you work with.

  • Be Proud and Promotional

Give an example of something you’ve done recently to balance your life and show how

it helps the company having someone like you who can handle so much with such

grace and effectiveness.

I recently gave the response below to my organization’s incoming board chair at an after work event when he asked me that exact question – How do you do it?

“It can be hard at times but I love what I do and I have great kids who deserve my very best. The most important thing for me has been having amazing people that help me be successful. My kids are with my sitter right now. She has been with us since my oldest was a baby. She’s a part of the family and that makes a huge difference. But there are times it’s a balancing act. This morning I had to drop off at two places, bring cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday and attend a parent teacher conference. All that before I even got to the office! It takes a lot of planning. But it’s worth it. I know in the end, my job is giving my children a great life, full of opportunity and frankly, I think it makes me a better leader.”

Remember – everything is an opportunity to show your commitment to your career and promote yourself. If you can help those around you understand being a single mom is not a hindrance but a help, you’ll pave a better path for you and all the other single moms in the office and those to come.

Now that’s how a single mom leans in!