Archives for posts with tag: career

June has been proclaimed “Next Gen Month” in Edmonton. As I look at the various organizations under that umbrella, I often find myself asking “where are the women?” or more specifically “where are the women like me?”

From my (probably biased) perspective, those who are most involved fall into three categories:

  • single men
  • single women
  • married men with supportive wives (with or without children)

It got me thinking – where are all the women with young families? If the ultimate goal of those organizations is to make Edmonton a more vibrant, livable city for my generation and the next, where are the voices of the women working to make the city better while trying to balance challenging careers and kids.  Certainly I’m not the only one who’s TOTALLY FINE with drive-through banks as part of a denser city?

As a marketer, I understand the power of mothers – we make most of the consumer decisions in the household and therefore hold a lot of power. Many many many organizations want to hear what moms have to say. But does anyone care what those same women have to say outside of their roles as moms and household managers?

Am I splitting hairs here? Perhaps.

But I know there are women like me out there. I work with them, I work for them, and they’re in my book club and my twitter feed. A while ago, one of them whom I greatly admire told me (in her kind and supportive, yet no nonsense way) that if I wanted that voice heard, perhaps I should stop bitching and start talking (I paraphrase).

It took me a while, but I finally took her advice, and I’ve decided to run for a position on the Board of Directors of a local industry organization.

I’m hoping to find plenty of women with young families (and super supportive husbands) who are already out there, being part of the conversation. I know that since I’ve been thinking about this issue, I’ve found more and more of them and it makes me happy. I hope I’m joining a chorus.

Everyone is busy.

I’m no different that millions of other working mums who are trying to balance a number of different roles and trying to be good at all of them.

What makes me incredibly lucky is the support that I have. When people ask me how I balance everything, I say, “I married well.” By that I mean that I married someone who is a true partner – a husband who actually does his share (if not more) of the house and child duties. It’s an arrangement that I’ve found to be incredibly rare (which is another post for another time).

But this post isn’t about my great husband, it’s about my parents who have been really great about helping my family in small, but incredibly helpful and meaningful ways.

A sample of their recent efforts:

  • Taking both kids to their swimming lessons on the weekend
  • Taking my elder son to skiing lessons once a week
  • Shopping for and delivering pre-made meals, ready for the freezer
  • Pre-chopping fresh veggies and cubed, raw meat for easy meal prep
  • For our upcoming family vacation, they did the research and made ALL the arrangements, including taking my kids for passport photos and standing in line at Canada Place to submit the applications

We reimburse them for their purchases, so the only thing these efforts cost them is time and a bit of gas.

None of these are earth-shattering efforts, especially for two healthy, active, semi-retired people. But what they are is insightful. My parents, without me asking, have identified what would be most helpful and they do it.

It has made a world of difference for us. No more hastily thrown together junky meals served with a glass of V8 juice and a hope that it’s close to nutritious. It means my kids can participate in activities they enjoy without my time-crunch stress. It means on Saturdays we have 90 minutes of kid-free time to organize paperwork, fold laundry, tidy up, or just sit in blissful silence.

And as a bonus, my kids are building great memories with their grandparents who bring them to fun activities and feed them Doritos afterwards.

I think a lot of modern career women with families feel this pressure to do it all and be exceptional at it all. But it’s impossible – no person can live up to that kind of pressure for a sustained period of time. You need help. And when that help comes in a pitch-perfect package, accept it with the realization that getting help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you (and yours) so much stronger.

Mum and Dad, thank you.

There are many things in this world that I am not good at. I’m a terrible bowler. I have no idea about mechanics, I can’t cook without a recipe, I avoid confrontation, I take terrible notes and I couldn’t whistle my way out of a wet paper bag.

Most of those things, I don’t really care about.

But I wish I could design – graphic, fashion, interior, industrial, whatever. But alas, while I have the appreciation and the desire, I’m woefully lacking in the talent department. Can’t draw a circle to save my life.

What I do have is “a good eye” which means I can’t actually DO anything, but I’m pretty good at discerning what’s good and what’s crap. And I’ve spent most of my career surrounding myself with people who ARE talented and CAN design. If I can’t do it myself, at least I can be nearby when it happens.

But I haven’t let go of my dream of finding that creative outlet and that’s what has spurred my recent flirtations with photography. My hope is that my “good eye” will translate into a good eye for composition and perhaps my photos will end up matching what I see in my head.

Tonight I had my first of four photography classes at Vivid Print. We spent tonight learning the basics of shutter speed, aperture, white balance and ISO settings. Then we had a go at playing with the settings and seeing how they affected the images we got.

I must say, that it has left me quite discouraged. Once again, what I envision in my head is miles away from what I’m actually able to create.  However, thanks to my “good eye,” I can tell you, that my photos are indeed, crap:

Sigh.

It’s all a bit humbling. I suppose that’s why I’m taking these lessons, right? Learn how to draw that circle. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a tiny seed of talent inside me that just needs some time, practice and encouragement so I can get closer to creating something cool.

I hate the word “momtrepreneur.”

Besides being a rather clunky portmanteau, I hate the visions it conjugates. An overachieving stay at home mum cajoling friends into buying her gourmet dip mixes or selling her crafted creations on Etsy. Or, a professional on her maternity leave, doing consulting work on the side while blending organic, locally grown vegetables into ice cube tray portions.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike that stay-at-home mums do these things (I may have done some of them myself), I just hate the actual term. I’m all for women finding their passions and sharing their talents with the world (and making some dollars while they’re at it). I completely understand the often conflicting desire to spend lots of time with your kids AND find something mentally challenging so you don’t go nuts watching “In the Night Garden.” Doing work on the side satisfies both of those needs for a lot of women.

But what’s with the cutesy label?

If you’re starting your own business, however small, you’re an entrepreneur. “Momifying” the word only makes your efforts seem less serious, less challenging, less worthy of respect or consideration. It infantilizes the great efforts that these entrepreneurs (who also happen to be moms) undertake. It makes the work seem not quite as important as a REAL entrepreneur.

So, I say keep doing what you’re doing, but shuck the pink frilly label and grab your rightful place as an entrepreneur. Yes, you still wear multiple hats, but you don’t need to weave them all into your business title.

And really, would any guy call himself a “dadtrepeneur?” And if he did, would you want to sleep with him?

I didn’t think so.