Working Mother

What will make me leave my kids?

Even though I had already made the decision that it was time to go back to work, I still was going to miss that time with my children. So, when it came time to start my job search, I didn’t just want a job. I wanted something so “right” that it was worth the time away from my children. In the way of anal people everywhere, I decided to make a list.

My list included 4 columns: What I absolutely had to have, what would be nice, what I would tolerate, what I will not accept.

When I pictured myself back at work (in a sleek pencil skirt with a beautifully pressed white button down – haha, reality check), I knew that I had to have a work environment that supported employees in their personal lives.

It was important that I able to care for sick children or flex my schedule in order to attend another holiday concert.  When it came to absolutes, this was really the only one that would have been make it or break it for me.

The next 2 columns were quite a bit longer as there were plenty of things I really wanted or didn’t want, but could work around.  It included such things as working in certain fields, a workforce at least 50% female, avoiding a “sales” focus, and employee wellness programs.

There was one odd one in this category – I preferred to have a female supervisor. In my mind, this meant that I would have more support as a mom than otherwise. However, my first job back was under a male supervisor and he was very supportive.

This was also where I put my desired salary range in terms of what I wanted and would not accept.  Again, if I’m spending time away from my children, I need to make enough to at least cover the after school care and then some.

Finally, the column of items I would not accept.  Most of these related to basic work ethics such as dishonesty and lack of integrity. It also included a list of places where I would not work. To avoid being sued by somebody for something, I won’t list names, but suffice it to say that it included businesses that I felt were contrary to my personal beliefs.  This category also included a job with lots of travel, a commute of more than 20 minutes, and 2nd or 3rd shift work.

What started out as a grand brain dump for me, actually turned into my first big step in my job search. Based on this big list, I was able to narrow down my job search rather than having to weed through the items I would not accept.

When the time came, it also was a tremendous help in negotiating my salary and benefits.  (Sometimes, our greatest successes come out of random desperate moments – right, moms?) As I’ve continued as a working mother, this list has come in handy every time I have a review with my supervisor or applied for a new job.

I’m happy to report that I have also found some amazing dream jobs as a result of this focused list.  Ok – maybe it’s because I LOVE to make lists, but it still worked for me.

What have you found to help with determining the jobs you want?


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