Last week at a panel on working while speaking on the panel at Women & Time: What Makes Her Tick discussion hosted by Real Simple and the Families And Work Institute, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother author Amy Chua said she operates in two completely separate modes: total stay-at-home mom mode and glamorous career woman. “One week I’m just in sweats all day with greasy hair and glasses. I don’t even answer the phone. I’m just with my kids,” she said. Then during the other weeks she is completely focused on her career as an author, professor and speaker doing interviews, press conferences, etc., And looking perfectly polished the whole time of course (at the panel, the audience gasped when Chua said she was turning 50 this year.) But is this true for most working moms? Do women have to operate in two modes to have it all? We talked to some women about this.
Kate Denoyer Fitzpatrick, Owner & Founder of KKDF & Co Consulting, told The Grindstone:
“I definitely operate in two (or more) modes on any given day. I work from home as a communications consultant doing PR and social media for small businesses and non-profits; trying to compartmentalize my life and have designated blocks of time for my work, friends, baby and husband keeps me sane. It would be much easier mentally if I could physically leave my home/family life to go work in a separate office, but at the same time I think I have a healthy amount of flexibility in my philosophy as well.”
Tina Pruitt, a healthy living coach, told The Grindstone:
“Interesting, I have the two modes built into my lifestyle automatically each week since I have my son every other week! While I still fuse the two on the “off- weeks” with school pick-up, Tae Kwon Do practice, Networking events, and coaching calls – I definitely am able to turn it on and off in a more pronounced way each week! It has worked out GREAT so far! Plus, I try to travel only on my “career weeks”, but luckily, I have a great relationship with my son’s dad, so if that doesn’t work out perfectly, we make it work it out so our son is always placed first!”
Jade Simmons told The Grindstone.
“I’m a concert pianist and arts entrepreneur and you better believe I operate in two distinct modes! My career is one that requires glamour and a devotion to going full out on stage in the public eye. When I’m on the road, I’m in full makeup, killer outfits off stage, glamorous gowns on stage. I’m ON all the time as a speaker and performer.
At home, I go into what I call Martha Stewart mode or else my house would be in shambles! I devote myself to hubby, my 4 year old and my baseboards! Once my son took my CD to school with a very glamorous picture of me on the cover. The daycare workers couldn’t believe it was the same person they saw in sweats every morning. Because artists live a demanding life, one where your other needy baby is your art, it’s imperative for us to recognize what personal and career “seasons” we’re in in order to be most effective and highly functional…as well as happy!”
According to a national poll of 1,000 working mothers recently conducted by Care.com, eight out of 10 mothers enjoy being a working parent and 64% say work does NOT interfere with their ability to be a good parent. Half feel that work makes them a good role model for their children. According to the latest Office for National Statistics figures, record numbers of mothers are working full-time despite having a child as young as six months old. There are 2.25 million women, whose youngest or only child is under the age of four, who have a full-time job. There were only 1.9 million in 2003. About 23% of wives now out-earn their husbands, according to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center. And this earnings trend is more dramatic among younger people. Women 30 and under make more money, on average, than their male counterparts in all but three of the largest cities in the U.S. Being a good mom is not about giving all of your time to your child said Dr. Robi Ludwig, who explained to the program that moms must take care of themselves first. “A happy mom has a better chance of being a good mom,” she said. But are these working moms feeling happier because they separate their professional life completely from their personal life? Is this the best strategy?
Lori Bizzoco, an Executive Editor, told The Grindstone:
“I do agree with your question about focusing on one aspect of your life at a time. It allows you to devote 100 percent attention to one area, for a sustained period rather than trying to divide your time into hours. However, I don’t know that doing it week by week is realistic or healthy. Not many woman I know have the means or ability to switch gears from week to week. Not to mention that doing this for a long extended period of time could also have consequences, especially considering that most woman need to work and kids need our attention.”