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Child AND career – self-sacrifice or enrichment?

As a young woman, I was told over and over again that having a child AND a career was not possible – “You’ll have to choose!”

During an internship, I once heard from a Head of HR: “I also gave up children for my career. You can’t have both.”

Hm …

Many years later, I look back reflectively and think to myself, “YOU CAN DO IT!” It has not always been an easy path, but it is definitely possible. Today my three children are 11, 14 and 16 years old and I am happy about their independence.

I am convinced that I have learned a lot and developed personally with my children. Along the way, I was “allowed” to look at some internal and external barriers, reflect on them, and decide how to deal with them.

One sticking point along the way was certainly the question: How am I a role model for my children?

Child and career

Why is balancing child AND career so difficult for many women?

“I work 30 hours and am responsible for most of the childcare and household chores. Taking time for myself, meeting girlfriends or networking for career advancement – when exactly should I do that?”

In Germany, Austria and parts of Switzerland, we still live very traditional roles. “Woman = part-time + children” and “Men = full-time + career” are the socially expected and traditional roles.

Even without children, women do more care work (childcare, caring for relatives, housework, voluntary work) than men.

In 2019, women spent 52.4% more time on unpaid work than men.

For 34-year-olds with children, the gender care gap was even higher, at 110.6 %. At this age, the time burden of a career and (young) childrento care for is often particularly high. On average, a 34-year-old women with children spends 5.18 hours a day on unpaid care work. For fathers of the same age, on the other hand, it is only 2.31 hours a day. (Source: statista – “Gender care gap still far too high”)

What are the implications of the “child OR career” concept?

There are many facts and figures on the negative effects for women as well as psychological factors for women re-entering the workforce.

In terms of facts and figures, about two-thirds of women in Germany, Austria and Switzerland with minor children work part-time. Thus, these three countries, along with the Netherlands, have the highest part-time rate. (Source: statista) The consequence of this high part-time rate is that 10 years after the birth of a child, women earn 50 to 60% less than before.

For men, there is no loss of wages due to the birth of a child.

The consequence of the choice “child or career” is both the financial dependence on the partner and the lack of retirement money. The so-called gender pension gap(GPensionGap) is about 36 %. (Source: statista)

What are the internal and external barriers to women returning to work due to the prejudice “child or career?

When returning to work after maternity leave, a woman is confronted with many prejudices, such as:

  • “She has to focus on the kids and not on her career”.
  • “After all, she ONLY works part-time”
  • “She’s working again – the poor kid!”

Women already need a lot of self-confidence and inner clarity to deal with these prejudices. Also inner clarity and a easy-going mindset are often helpful …

In addition, there are our own internal barriers to child and career that exist in the minds of many women. For example, one study shows that 75% of women surveyed (and 55% of men) believe there is a “glass ceiling.” 84% of women believe that women have to work harder than men to achieve the same level of success. And two-thirds of women underestimate their own performance and thus make themselves look small. (Source: Karmasin Research & Identity)

How did you manage to balance child AND career?

 

Child and career
Now my private situation is that I have three children, a husband who works a lot and no parents or in-laws here in Vienna.

From the outside, therefore, a rather “modest” situation. I could have sat down and say to myself, “Too bad, life dealt me some bad cards.” I could have complained, felt victimized and pitied myself. Then I have to do everything alone – no one else does it!“But that’s not the way I am!

My path has been to look at my own obstacles, as well as external ones, and to find and walk my path. And you probably know this, too.

What are the obstacles in my mind that prevent me from having a child AND a career?

How can I balance children, family and career with a good conscience so that it suits me and the othes?

Like so many other mothers, it felt liek I received an injection with the birth of the children, which is: “As a mother, you always have a guilty conscience!“I have worked on this specifically and thought about how a balanced life might look like, which is fitting myself, my personality and my family. I have often asked myself the question, “How does a good conscience look like?”

And then I also decided for myself that the division for children and household is 50:50. And I keep telling myself the phrase, ” I have a good conscience if I do 50% of the childcare and household chores. ”

This sentence and the continuous repetition have changed a lot for me. In addition, I have dealt with the fact that I would like to be a role model for my children and the world around me. Are you a role model for your children, customers, colleagues and your team?

On the subject of my own standards (??perfectionism??), for example, the standard of cleanliness of the apartment and being a “good mother”, I have learned a lot. I keep saying to myself, “I used to live in a clean apartment – now I have three kids.” 🙂 At a startup talk I once heard, “Better done than perfect.” I like that.

On this topic, I have definitely made many steps, learned and developed myself further. I have learned ease and lightedness and want to take better care of myself. I have also documented some of my learning steps in my Videos, and on LinkedIn I am always sharing my know-how, own learnings and much more.

And howdid the environment react?

The others asked me questions like:

+ Do you think it is a good idea for a nanny to take care of you 6-month old baby in order to work on a big interim project?

+ your children are in after-school care in the afternoon – how come?

For my extended family – my family comes from the countryside – this was rather unthinkable, although of course my parents saw that I was often stressed and tired and sometimes it just happened to be a lot.

My parents’ questioned: why do you have to work and juggle child AND a career?

My answer: “I’m not stupid! Why should I replace something I like to do – my work – with something I don’t like to do – housekeeping, cleaning, laundry – all day long? NEVER!”

This was and is my path to child AND career

My goal was clear: I don’t want to live without one or the other. Only in this way I am able lead a happy, fulfilled life and bring the best of myself in both roles of my life.

 

Child and career
For methree topics were important and made a difference:

    • I have always focused on my own circle of influence, did not complain or tried not to make someone else responsible for my own happiness. My focus was on the loopholes, the spaces in between – and not on real or perceived bars, not on internal and external obstacles that lie in the way. The focus was and is on the goal and how I can best get there in an “easy” way.
    • To do that, I leave my comfort zone – again and again, consistently. I questioned many things, but never gave up. And believe me: development and growth- whether on a personal or organizational level – is only possible if you step out of your comfort zone.
    • I walked MY path , which I have worked out and designed myself, which suits me and my family best.

So I’m authentic, energetic and just love doing what I do. And as you know, when you like doing something, you do it well!

 

Many tips from women, mothers and leaders

I once asked on LinkedIn for the best tips for child AND career and there are great advice, comments and hints.
Here is the LINK.
 

And you? How does your path look like? What do you choose?

I invite you to develop a strategy for your next steps in a personal get-to-know conversation with me!