Did you find that your colleagues/clients treated you differently after you had kids?
As an engineer, definitely. As a writer, I don't have a basis for comparison (I already had kids when I started). But one of the things I like about working from home and dealing with most clients via phone and email is that if I get the job done, that's all they see. They know me as someone reliable. I may be juggling a million things behind the scenes, but as a solopreneur it's a lot easier to hide than when you have to show up at a cube every day.
Who/what has been most helpful to you as you've navigated through your career as a mom? Where do you go for support/advice to help you?
There is simply no substitute for a network of mom friends. Those who are going through the same things commiserate, and those who have been there and done that help you keep your head. I think as you go through different life stages you find yourself naturally drawn to folks on a similar path. Nowadays I find I have a whole passel of girlfriends who are freelance writers and moms. We've got each other's backs.
Please share with us the top three things/strategies that help you successfully get through your days at work and at home.
1) I drink a ton of water. (Sounds silly, but in addition to being generally good for you, it forces you to get up to refill and go to the bathroom; as someone who sits at a desk all day it's great to have that built-in reminder to get up and stretch every so often.)
2) Even when I'm busy, I try to talk with at least one non-work-related person during the work day, at least briefly. (It helps stave off the isolation of working at home.)
3) We eat dinner together as a family. I find that a very grounding practice. We've recently gotten away from a standard, rote grace recitation and take turns saying a brief prayer, which has been wonderful for helping me key in on what's going on with the kids and my husband (and what's really important).
As professional moms we are constantly after finding that elusive work/life balance. Can you talk about what that balance means for you and ways – however small or big – you've managed to find it?
As I said, I'm really still working on it. But even when I'm swamped, I try to do things like stop and give the kids my full attention, even if I have to say "Okay, I have thirty minutes and then I have to come work some more."
Balance to me means my responsibilities met and my family happy and me feeling relaxed. I fall short constantly, but I'm getting there. Recently, for example, I cut way back on how many hours I work on the weekends. That's helped a lot.