My bigger revelation is that working moms need to leverage networking more and better. The mom-based groups highlighted in the article consist of new and relatively new moms who have collaborated via social media to create very powerful, collective voices, weighing in on new mom and toddler issues. I was in that seat not that long ago and I love the efficiency of the parenting listservs, discussion groups, and Facebook Pages that pull interested parties together (none of which I was lucky enough to utilize – dating myself!)
Coming off of a recent experience of helping my employer find a replacement for me as I move on to a new opportunity, I read about these social media parenting groups and realized a need exists for moms in a different chapter of life: Moms working full time or part time, trying our hardest to find the right balance between work and family.
In my replacement search, I sent emails to about 40 women I know who might be interested in my position or who might pass my message to someone who is interested. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a local discussion group for moms in the workforce or on the verge of entering? It would have been the perfect place for me to share my job posting. It could also be a great resource, as the membership grows, to share joys, frustrations, opportunities, and tricks of the trade. It would be perfect for women who are contemplating returning to the workforce after time off to raise children – a place to get motivated, to feel the momentum of a group of women who are succeeding in roles that seem daunting to anyone peeking through the doors. It would be a great place to go when the balance is tipping precariously to one side and we need the virtual support of women in the same boat to get our determination back on track; or to laugh about the insanity!
I had the great fortune to have a role model in my life who raised her family and then returned to the workforce as college tuition loomed. My mom didn’t go back to work as a hobby or just to exercise her brain. She went back for financial reasons, to enable us to attend private colleges. She didn’t want to leave my youngest sisters at home to fend for themselves in high school. But she did it. And what started out of financial necessity grew into a career that earned the organization she steered an honored spot on President George H. W. Bush’s “Thousand Points of Light.” Taking that huge step back into the workforce is at least twice as hard without a good role model to help keep your backbone steady and strong. As I found myself eerily, but not uncommonly, in her shoes, I am grateful to have first-hand knowledge of her successes.
Women re-enter the workforce for a variety of reasons, some not always exactly as planned; spouse job loss, relocation, death, divorce, or financial hardship. The happier stories are re-entry because we miss the work or it is simply "time." And there are plenty of those stories, thankfully. All of these scenarios could use a good network to help jump-start the process. I know they are out there, but I'm taking a pro-active approach.
In my own little corner of the world, I’ve set up a LinkedIn Discussion Group called "Got Balance? – Needham, MA." If you are in Needham, on LinkedIn, in or nearly in the workforce, and still raising a family (seems like a lot of criteria, but that is just the tip of the iceberg of our personal definition!), I hope you will consider joining the discussion. If you are outside of Needham, consider starting a local network of your own. If you are male and know a woman who might benefit from this idea, send her this post! I am optimistic that these local discussion groups will grow into useful networking tools for many people for many years.
If you are a small business that markets to young mothers, the Globe Magazine article is required reading. If you are a small business that doesn’t market to mothers, you might want to start! In addition to the stunning fact that at least 85% of family spending is controlled by moms, here are some of the statistics from the article:
How and How Often Moms Connect (Edison Research):
- 93% have internet access from any location,
- 61% have a smartphone,
- Moms spend an average of 2 hours 43 minutes per day on the Internet – that’s up from 53 minutes per day in 2002,
- Moms check their Facebook page an average of 4.7 times per day (compared to 2.1 times per day for dads),
- 46% use social networking websites several times per day,
- 35% have 5 or more devices in their home connected to the Internet,
- 74% have a wi-fi network in their household.