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!