I Don’t Know How She Does It – Part 5

Over the last few weeks, try I’ve been delighted to host this five part series written by Christine Brown-Quinn, inspired by the movie ‘I Don’t Know How She Does it’.
In Part 1, we heard that letting go can be good – we’re not all expected to be super women and it’s mainly ourselves who put this pressure on us. Part two enlightened us with some top tips for managing childcare. The topic of the third part of the series was guilt, and how working mothers can switch their mindset on the guilt trip and last week’s penultimate post explored work life balance and whether it’s a myth or a reality.
This final part looks at the importance of making time for your partner, something I’ve blogged about previously. It’s good guidance and common sense, yet I appreciate how difficult it can be to do.

 

 

  • This is your last chance to win!

 


As part of this series, Christine is kindly giving away four signed copies of her book ‘Step Aside Superwoman, Career and Family is for Any Woman’ and all you need to do to be in with a chance of bagging one is
Either sign-up to receive email notifications of all my new blog posts straight to your inbox and / or follow me @workingsupermum on Twitter and Tweet ‘I want to win with @workingsupermum’ / or ‘Like’ the Super Mummy Facebook page via the links on the right or leave a comment with your thoughts below this article. Phew! Lots of ways to win!
Competition closes at 5pm on 15th May 2012 and four winners will be selected at random. Good Luck!

 

 
Make time for your partner – Your kids will thank you in the long run – by Christine Brown-Quinn
We often think that when the focus isn’t directly on our kids that somehow they are losing out. And if they’re old enough to talk, they’ll certainly tell you that that’s the case… When we’re at work and they’re at home, they lose out. When we’re out in the evening at seminar/night class and they’re at home, they’re missing out. It even extends to our relationship with their dad. When we’re spending time with our “other halves”, the kids are missing out. Is this really the case? If you’ve read any of the previous blogs in this five-part series, you’ll know that it’s not. Investing in yourself IS investing in your family. And here’s why investing in your relationship with your partner is also investing in the family.
The kids are happy when the family unit is happy so your relationship with your partner is as important as your direct relationship with your kids. And let’s face it, any partnership or marriage isn’t easy – there are a lot of things to work through. Also, too much focus directly on the kids can actually be detrimental. (The real world doesn’t work that way – they’re not the centre of the universe and the sooner they learn that the better off they’ll be). Keeping the flame alive has other advantages as well – the kids will eventually grow up and leave home (trust me, it does happen!) so it will be just the two of you again so it’s good practice for the future.


During most of the film I don’t know how she does it, Kate Redding played by Sarah Jessica Parker treats her husband Richard like a second class citizen or worse yet, a totally incompetent carer. He doesn’t seem to have any rights when it comes to taking care of the kids or running the household. I cringed when I heard Kate say “how could you let that women look after MY kids when I was away?” as if to say Richard is not competent enough to make his own decisions.
Kate was referring to Richard’s choice of a back-up carer when the regular babysitter cancelled while Kate was away. The husband evidently gets no say in the matter! Think about your own circumstance. Do you ever treat your other half like he doesn’t have a clue when it comes to anything associated with the kids or house? Is that fair? Have you given him a chance? Have you showed him the “ropes”? Remember, people are people and just like micro-managing people at work, your other half will feel humiliated if you adopt the ‘Ms Dictator’ approach. I’ve tried it – it doesn’t work. In the long run nobody likes Ms Dictator!
Over the years I’ve learned that I’ve got to trust my colleagues and my other half to “run the ship” when I’m not around. They need to feel empowered to make decisions and I need their buy-in on how things are run. Otherwise, when it doesn’t work, it’s all my fault. On the other hand, when I do trust them and listen, better decisions can be made. The road to Super Woman is a dead end – you’ll end up burning yourself out which Kate nearly did too.
Gaining respect for your partner’s parental skills is something you have to work on together. It requires constant communication and discussion on approaches to food preparation, discipline, schooling, and childcare. One of my favorite parts of the film I don’t know how she does it was when Richard shows he can take care of things at home – like sorting out his daughter’s ballerina tights while Kate was on a business trip. He had a wonderful look of pride and satisfaction when he told Kate he had sorted things out. Kate glanced at him lovingly as if to say “yes, you’ve done it and I love you for it”.


But running a really efficient Grand Central Station where each parent is pitching in and all the home logistics are running smoothly isn’t enough. Do you have time for just each other? I really felt sorry for Richard when he announces to Kate that she doesn’t seem to have any time for just him. Couples that play together stay together. What was that common interest that brought you together? What interests have you developed together as a couple? I know it’s a struggle to find the time but it is possible – be creative. Plan it out and get it in the calendar.
My other half and I played basketball together when we first met. Later, when the kids started playing tennis, we decided to take lessons and joined a club. Playing tennis for us was really about going back to basics. Both of us have always liked sports and it was part of our relationship from the very beginning. Be prepared for the kids to be jealous of your time together. They will try to make you feel guilty like somehow you’re short-changing them. Funny isn’t it, some of the best things you can do for your kids are the ones where it’s not about them.

 

I Don’t Know How She Does It – Part 4

In Part four of this series, medical brought to you by Christine Brown-Quinn, author of “Step Aside Superwoman Careeer and Family is for any Woman”, the topic of work life balance and whether it can be a reality is explored.

If you’re  still enjoying the series, and haven’t yet entered our competition, why not do so today to be in with a chance of  WINNING one of four SIGNED copies of Christine’s book. Simply sign-up to receive email notifications of all my new blog posts straight to your inbox and / or follow me @workingsupermum on Twitter  and  Tweet ‘I want to win with @workingsupermum’ and link to any of the I don’t know How she does it’ posts on my blog / or ‘Like’ the Super Mummy Facebook page via the links on the right or leave a comment with your thoughts below this article.

Plenty of ways to win!

Competition closes at 5pm on 15th May 2012 and four winners will be selected at random.  Good Luck!

 

Is Work-Life Balance a Pipe Dream for Professional Women – by Christine Brown-Quinn

If you looked up to working mom Kate Redding as a role model, (Kate is played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the film I don’t know how she does it), I suspect you’d come to the conclusion that work-life balance is a pipe dream.  Kate does a fantastic job taking on responsibility for everything and everyone, leaving little time to do anything for herself. Just watching the film tired me out!  But does it have to be that way? Are there no alternatives if you decide on a career AND a family?

At a recent women’s networking event I was horrified when I heard that one of top tips for getting ahead was to “work harder than your male colleagues, partner, husband, or brother.” Really? Is this what we are teaching the up and coming women in business today? Aren’t we creating this burden for ourselves by promulgating such superwoman behaviour? It’s not about working harder. It’s about working smarter and focusing on a few critical things that matter in building a career. Since we’re not superwomen, we’re only humans, promoting such behaviour as goal surely results in a lack of work-life balance.

Work-life balance is NOT a pipe dream, but there are 3 key ingredients which are often overlooked in making this aspiration a reality:

1. Keep yourself motivated and challenged

WorkingMothers.com 2010 survey Career vs Paycheck revealed that a working mother was happy in all aspects of her life when she had a high level of job satisfaction.  It’s worth noting that job satisfaction was highly correlated to a meaningful career or job – it wasn’t just about the money. Once we lose the buzz we get from our careers, the whole work-life dynamic falls apart.

How many women do you know who come back from maternity leave, feel side-lined, and   subsequently give up. “What’s the point?” they begin to wonder. If they’re going to leave precious little ones in someone else’s care, the job has got to turn them on.  I remember one day when my elderly neighbour saw me coming home from work and how amazed she seemed that I was chirpy and energetic after such a long day in the city. The secret? I felt challenged in my corporate career – the things I was learning made life very interesting.

2. Map out a routine for maximizing your individual level of performance

Organize your easy and tough tasks and challenges around those peak performance times.  Tackle the tough challenges when you feel at your best. For me it’s the first thing in the morning.  My confidence and patience levels are up and my head is clear.

I learned this by trial and error and being aware of how productive I was (or not as the case may be) at which times. There’s a key piece missing here. In order to be at your peak at work, you also need to figure out how much exercise and other activity you need to do (and how to make it happen) to keep your enthusiasm up at work.  What do you really like to do in your personal time that re-energises you. There’s so much focus on time management. It’s misplaced. We need to be focusing on managing our energy rather than our time.

3. Think Like a Business Owner

Point 2 leads really nicely into this point.  At the end of the day, what does a good manager really care about? That’s right, performance. I recently gave a talk about how important it is to invest and enrich in both the personal and professional dimensions of our lives, highlighting that it’s having both parts that can help you achieve optimal performance in each. Huh? Simply put, by having a varied life you avoid getting burned out, whether it’s caring for an elderly parent, hyper kids or a demanding career.

Dipping in out of both lives makes you appreciate each life and the benefits it brings. At the end of my talk an eager member of the audience asked, “But Christine, if I tell my boss how important my personal life is, he or she won’t get it, they won’t care.” I replied, “Well your boss may or may not care, but that’s not the point. As your manager, your boss expects you to organize your life so you can be at your best. That’s YOUR responsibility. Your boss wants to know where you are on your projects.”

The best rule of thumb to use when thinking about how to blend our increasingly complex professional and personal lives is to think like a business owner.  A business owner wants you to be as productive as you can and to manage your life to achieve this. Working 24 x 7, losing your enthusiasm, creativity and motivation isn’t good for you and it’s not good for the business.

Work-life balance is not a pipe dream. Like anything though, you’ve got to be strategic and focus on the most important parts or you’ll get lost in the detail.

This blog is part 4 of a 5-part series: I don’t know how she does it. For other blogs connected to this series, click here.

I Don’t Know How She Does It – Part 3

It’s part three of the five part series we’re running on the blog, sovaldi and this week Christine talks about the guilt we experience as working parents and how our professional life can enhance every other aspect of our lives.

If you’re enjoying the series, troche you might want to  WIN one of four SIGNED copies of Christine’s book. To do so simply sign-up to receive email notifications of all my new blog posts straight to your inbox and / or follow me @workingsupermum on Twitter  and  Tweet ‘I want to win with @workingsupermum’ and link to any of the I don’t know How she does it’ posts on my blog / or ‘Like’ the Super Mummy Facebook page via the links on the right or leave a comment with your thoughts below this article.

Plenty of ways to win!

Competition closes at 5pm on 15th May 2012 and four winners will be selected at random.  Good Luck!

Women in Business: Getting to Grips with the Guilt Trip by Christine Brown-Quinn

How can you possibly have a career and a personal life and not feel guilty that someone is getting short changed?  Is it a no win situation which just can’t be resolved?  Sorry for the cliche, but it’s actually a win-win situation.

First, let’s take a look at your personal life. You have a lot of commitments, right? But isn’t this what makes you feel connected to this earth?  Commitments are a good thing – you may have a commitment to a sports team, a local school, a charity or a family matter. These commitments take you away from work, both mentally and physically. (Again, this is also a good thing which I’ll come back to later). Your instinct is that your priorities are in the right place, but you still feel guilty leaving clients or colleagues with unfinished business.

Now let’s take a look at your professional life.  You are no doubt enjoying the challenge and collaboration of working with other adults.  Knowing you, I bet you’re really throwing yourself into the new job, the new role, or project.  But I hear you. You’re telling me that despite this job satisfaction you still do experience that tinge (or on a bad day, that pang) of guilt that you should be home having a glass of wine with your partner or reading that bedtime story with your kids.

Well, if it’s any consolation we’ve all been there. The point is you’re not alone and it’s not personal – it’s part of the human predicament.  It’s  part of what defines us and you’ve got to stop beating yourself up about it. It’s not your fault, so there’s absolutely no reason why you should feel guilty!

Kate Redding, the working mom played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the film I don’t know how she does it, demonstrates beautifully that so much of the guilt we experience is self-imposed. We set unrealistic expectations of what we can achieve – whether that be at home or at work.  Kate seems to feel guilty about everything and as a result she seems almost scatter-brained and unfocused in almost every situation. Her guilt seems to be driving her to be uber human.  (She really stoops low when she dresses up a store-bought cake as homemade for the school bake sale. She doesn’t want her kids to feel like she’s contributing less than the other mothers. Oh, please!).  In a way we set ourselves up for feeling a sense of failure, a sense of guilt, because we can’t meet a pie in the sky expectation.

Ok, so although you buy into my logic, you’re still not over it.

Here’s the real key to getting to grips with the guilt trip. What you have to realize is that it’s because of your personal life (rather than in spite of!) that you’re a better professional, a better business person. People like to deal with other people. The unique approach, values and integrity you bring to the work environment are your greatest contributions. Your uniqueness comes from your personal life, your upbringing and your personal experiences.  Also having a personal life pulls you away from work – it saves you from burn-out (I saw plenty of this in my corporate life!).  It allows you to break away and recharge your battery, which of course makes you more productive in the long run. Ever notice how much easier something feels once you’ve had that mental break?

Fine, I get all that, but I still feel guilty about not spending enough time with my partner.  I feel guilty about leaving the kids. Did you ever think about how your professional life makes you an interesting person – how it broadens your perspective? Have you ever thought about how your professional life enables you to support your partner’s career (you realize just how tough it is out there in the real world!)  So many skills and qualities that you apply in your personal life have actually been developed in your work life.  You’ve got it – your professional life makes you a better person – you as a partner, daughter, friend or mother. You can help your relatives and close friends get out of those tricky situations because you solve problems at work all day long!

Bottom line?  Although you want perfection, just focusing on that one thing doesn’t get you there either.  Once you accept that you can’t possibly be everywhere and do everything, and also accept that it’s the varied dimensions in your life that might it worth living, you’re well on the road to recovery.  No more guilt.  Time to enjoy life’s variety!

This blog is part 3 of a 5-part series: I don’t know how she does it. For other blogs connected to this series, click here.

I Don’t Know How She Does It – Part 2

In Part 1 of this I don’t know how she does it series, sales  brought to you by Christine Brown-Quinn, she talked about how you need to stop trying to be Superwoman – learn to let go (stop micromanaging!) and give others a chance to grow and develop both at home and at work.  This second part takes a closer look at how this applies when it comes to looking after your kids.

To WIN one of four SIGNED copies of Christine’s book simply sign-up to receive email notifications of all my new blog posts straight to your inbox and / or follow me @workingsupermum on Twitter  and  Tweet ‘I want to win with @workingsupermum’ / or ‘Like’ the Super Mummy Facebook page via the links on the right or leave a comment with your thoughts below this article. Phew! Lots of ways to win!

Competition closes at 5pm on 15th May 2012 and four winners will be selected at random.  Good Luck!

 

Super Manage Your Childcare – My Top 3 Tips by Christine Brown-Quinn

Anyone who juggles work and family knows that the childcare arrangement is one of the most critical things to get right if you want your life to run smoothly – it’s the linchpin. “Well, if you can afford it, just hire an expensive nanny,” you say and “its’ all sorted.” Sorry, money certainly helps, but it’s not what makes or breaks the situation. YOUR people skills and management skills are what counts. Just like at work, simply paying someone doesn’t mean they’ll perform. As humans, we’re a lot more complicated than that.

Whatever your arrangement – nursery school, childcare in the provider’s home, or some sort of help in your home, whether it be a nanny, grandmother, or perhaps student – think about how you would like to be treated if you were the one being hired to look after somebody else’s kids. Also is there anything you’ve learned in your professional environment about working with people – how to motivate, work effectively in teams, resolve conflict, resolve problems – that might also be useful when it comes to interacting with the person looking after your most precious asset?

You’ve got it. IT’S EXACTLY THESE PEOPLE SKILLS THAT YOU USE IN YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT THAT YOU NEED TO USE WHEN MANAGING YOUR CHILD CARE ARRANGEMENT.

Here are my top three strategies:

1. Manage the relationship day by day – Don’t let problems boil over. Deal with them as they arise. There’s a scene in the film I don’t know how she does, where Mom Kate comes back from a business trip and her husband Richard says they need to talk to the nanny about her being late all the time. Kate screams, “No! I don’t want her to leave.” Tiptoeing around these kind of sensitive issues may avoid some pain in the short term, but in the longer term it only makes the pain that much worse. By not dealing with issues as they arise, you are also setting a dangerous precedent. In this case Kate & Richard are saying it’s ok to be late and are opening up the door to other potentially unwelcome behaviour.

2. Empower the carer – In another scene Kate’s on a business trip and she’s about to go into a very big meeting. She gets a call on her cell phone from her nanny who’s after a telephone number to arrange a play date. Understandably so, Kate is frazzled and searches her handbag looking for some sort scribbled note. Kate clearly is trying to manage the play date and her big deadlines at work. Is this really necessary? Isn’t Kate causing her own stress? Empower the childcare provider to take responsibility for this kind of detail. After all, you’ve got other things on your mind and that’s why she is likely to do a better job than you. Just like at work, when you empower people, they feel appreciated and trusted and are able to handle the situation brilliantly. They figure out how to do things on their own.

The payback is huge when you follow this principle. Currently we have a university student (Callum) who picks our 11 year old son Zach up from school and helps him with his homework. I make it clear that it’s Zach’s responsibility to get his work done and Callum’s responsibility is to support him. When we get feedback from the school that a certain piece of work is done well or not so well – we share that with Callum too and by doing so make it clear that he shares in Zach’s successes and’ not so good’ results.

I always ask Callum for his views – eg how can we motivate Zach to do his work more quickly (he has a tendency to let his mind wander like any healthy 11 year old boy.) What’s his response? He suggests great ideas like promising to play football if there’s enough time after Zach completes his homework. Does Callum feel empowered and personally responsible? You bet he does! The irony is when you give people personal responsibility, their job satisfaction goes up – they feel like they make a difference. The upside for you is your time is freed up and it’s a real joy to see others develop. (I’m even teaching Callum how to cook!)

3. Support the carer’s authority – Empowering also means that you need to be careful not to undermine the childcare provider’s authority. I’m sure you don’t like it at work when you’re given a job to do, but then somebody comes along and completely undermines the direction and actions you’ve taken. Always support the carer’s actions, especially in front of the kids. If you have a disagreement, you need to deal with that offline.

Mom Kate in the film loves to avoid conflict. When the nanny takes her son to get his first haircut, she never discusses with the nanny that she’d prefer to be part of these “first” moments. With some discussion and planning lots of things are possible. I remember many times with our two older kids that I had to have a quiet word with the carer about restrictions on television or snack food, usually because the carer was new. Children are natural arbitrageurs!

The biggest gift your childcare provider gives you is the opportunity for you to be you. Without this trusted partner, you can’t go out in the world and show your full talents. Like any relationship it’s a two-way street and this one certainly deserves day-to-day managing and investing. You won’t regret the long-term rewards!

This blog is part 2 of a 5-part series.

My Week in Snaps

  • Little Monster Blue had a Birthday ….. Yay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Everything required for week two of potty training with an indecisive and on occassion unwilling participant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Scaling Ironing Mountain


 

 

  • Mental week at work meant lots of working from home 

fitted in around grabbed moments between

proper office time, viagra usa school run, generic viagra birthdays,

potty training (did I mention potty training?) 

ironing, cleaning, cooking and a little bit of sleeping.

 

 

 

 

 

  • That’s Saturday Night right there folks

Fancy a nosey at what everyone else got up to this week?

I wonder how many will feature wine?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: Mummies United = Fabulous!

Lovely readers – I’m delighted to welcome my first guest poster to Super Mummy. Whilst most guest posters on other mummy blogs already have their own blog, look this lovely lady simply has a story to tell which resonates with me and I expect many others, and where better a forum for her to share it with like-minded folks, than here.

I hope you enjoy.

I hope you are inspired.

Over to K….

Well what can I say, I am still bowled over by the fact that a good friend asked me to write a blog article for Super Mummy, this is for a number of reasons

1) I’m completely flattered she thinks I have something of note

2) I’m a terrible writer i.e. 20 words when 2 would do and erm what is a ‘blog’ anyway?

3) What would I write about?

Perhaps I should explain………..I met this super mummy two years ago through a mutual friend who thought we would have ‘something in common’.  After our initial meeting over a cuppa and pleasantries exchanged we’ve never stopped talking!  It is amazing the similarities between us but the bond that keeps us together is that we are career driven ladies who became mummies and suddenly “BAM!” there was an almighty shift in our priorities.

We both returned to work for the same corporate organisation (having never met before) after the birth of our second child and, let’s face it, anyone who goes as far as having ‘number two’ knows it is a whole different ball game.  Forget the every weekend coupley long lies, it’s now the ‘darling you lie in on Saturday and I’ll do Sunday.’ Forget being able to talk to each other without two little voices going ‘mummy / daddy’ until eventually one of us gives in and says ‘what is it?’.  In fact, forget ever finishing a cup of tea / conversation or having a lie in ever again for the next 10 years (or at least until teenager age.)

Twice as much trouble, twice the lack of sleep but definitely twice the fun. Gradually, the sleepless nights subside and they become fabulous little friends and you wonder how on earth you ever survived before they came along.

So, back to my fabulous friend and our common bond – we tend to find ourselves in the same place at the same time.  Both of us strive to juggle home / kids / shopping / hubby / house / work.  But the truth of the matter is whether it ‘can all be done?’ and more importantly ‘do I really want to do it all?’  My pregnancy journey was fraught with mishaps and to this day I am convinced stress played its part. I took the decision of reducing responsibilities at work and very shortly after became pregnant with my first child.  This was the start of me making subtle changes, not because I wasn’t good at my job or didn’t want to do my job but because it was what was best for my family.  That was 5 years ago and I have been adjusting ever since.

I have long since got over the guilt of trying to be all things to all people and fit with what was expected of me.  I find myself looking to carve a new path for my family and live a life by design on my terms.  So, I am pursuing alternative income opportunities outside the corporate world and meeting some fabulous people along the way –  all like minded mummies who juggle BUT this time it’s on our terms and fit around the family.  What a fabulous sisterhood, I like to think of us as Mummies United.

So, where am I on this path?  Well I am plodding along nicely thank you very much, some days I have a little spring in my step and other days I struggle to get off the starting block but that’s life and where my fabulous friend comes in since we tread the same path daily.  We help, support, encourage each other since we know that anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Recently, I’ve introduced my kids to Dr Seuss and ‘The Cat in the Hat’, a book I loved as a child and came across this fabulous quote which I’ve pinned to my wall.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…………”

The old ones are still the best – oh the places we’ll go!

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