Disclosure: This is not a paid post. I received a copy of the book in order to review it. All opinions are my own.
Earlier this year, Liz O’ Donnell, creator of the award winning blog, Hello Ladies, released her first book, entitled “Mogul, Mom, and Maid.” I had the opportunity to speak to Liz about what she learned while writing her book.
Originally, Liz wanted to write a book about sexism and women who wanted to get to the corner office. However, when she looked at the results of the100 interviews she conducted with a diverse group of women, the reality was different: She found that most women agreed, “I don’t need to get to the corner office. I just want to work and get paid and contribute and be a mom.”
Her book talks about the realities that working moms face today. It is no longer about moms who are home waiting for their husbands to bring home the bacon, they are bringing it home too! However, they are not only bringing home the bacon, they are also planning birthday parties, coordinating after-school activities and trying to keep a clean house.
Moms are now working outside the home and while men are pitching in more than they were years ago, women are still doing more housework, and more of those tasks which Liz calls “invisible tasks” such as making doctor appointments and coordinating babysitting.
How can we get men to help more? According to Liz’s research, couples where the father took paternity leave after the mother (not at the same time as the mother) had a more successful and equitable division of labor at home. Another great way to get spouses more involved in home activities is a weekly meeting, where both spouses discuss the upcoming week, what is happening and who is taking care of what and when. This allows dad to also know what is happening in the kids’ lives, for example. It brings to light those “invisible tasks” that moms often take care of, and that go unnoticed.
Liz says if we are going to ask men to be involved, we have to be more accepting of the way they do things. “If we are going to pull them into these tasks, then we have to accept they do things differently.” Being the mom who flipped out when her husband gave her son cereal for dinner one day, I know exactly what she means! (and, now, I really wouldn’t care if Enzo had cereal for dinner.) Maybe we should just relax and let them do it their own way!
Saying “Yes” to Non-Negotiables
Liz explains that as women, we are raised to never say no… and we feel bad about doing so, so we end up saying yes to too much! (Can you relate to that? I sure can!) “Can you volunteer at a school play? “Of course!” “Can you help with car pool?” “Sure.” “Can you bring snacks for soccer?” “You betcha.”
She believes that finding out what your “non-negotiables” are, those things that mean so much to you that you are unwilling to compromise on, is paramount. Once you define those, saying no to everything else will become easier. For Liz, those non-negotiables are work, writing and time with her kids. Everything else, she says no to. In order to achieve this, Liz doesn’t spend a lot of time with friends and accepts living in a messy house, and doesn’t sleep much.
Gender in the Workplace
Liz believes that being a woman (and mother) at work has gotten better. She says she spent years pretending she wasn’t a mom, and blogging anonymously. She believes Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, made it safe to talk about gender at work.
Liz doesn’t believe in the “mommy wars” and says it is important that women talk to each other. There is a huge desire for women to make connections and talk to other women who are going through the same thing. It’s important for working moms to get together and know “Hey, I’m not the only one missing the class play.” Or, “I’m not the only one who is happy to be in the office.” I can say that for me, talking about my experiences (in person or through social media), blogging and reading other moms’ experiences online have been so helpful in dealing with the emotional roller-coaster ride that is “motherhood.”
The interviews Liz conducted revealed that women are making it happen on their own terms. However, there is much room for improvement. There is still a lot that needs to happen for working moms to achieve their professional goals. Working moms interviewed felt that there were no jobs in the middle for women who were college educated, smart and driven. It is often all or nothing. Where are the part time jobs? Where is the flexibility? Where are the jobs that support women raising families? Companies have to find a way to tap into talent in a non-traditional way, in a way that captures the talents of well-educated women who happen to be moms.
How are you making it all work? Do you have family meetings? Does your spouse help with the “individual tasks” Liz mentions? Do you work for an amazing company that supports working moms? What are your non-negotiables? Share your thoughts below for a chance to win a signed copy of Mogul, Mom and Maid!
Giveaway guidelines: Giveaway ends 02/27/2014. Winner announced 02/28/2014 – USA only.