We both consider ourselves to be ambitious, as do most of our mama friends. We want to climb the career ladder, earn promotions, advance our game. We want the C Suite. We want the General Counsel title.
That being said, we don’t always want those things all the time and we don’t necessarily want them right this minute.
Recently we’ve had a series of conversations with each other, and with other friends, about the idea of treading water career-wise, and we firmly believe there’s a time and place for that, too.
Here’s the thing: some seasons of parenting are more intense than others. Different circumstances trigger those periods of intensity for different families. The obvious example is parenting an infant who doesn’t sleep through the night (is there anything physically harder than chronic sleep deprivation?!) but there are also situations like discovering your child needs an IAP, or allowing your kid to participate in a time-intense club sports team, or times when your child is struggling socially with his or her group of friends.
These intense seasons of parenting are times to lean into the family part of your life, and let the work part of your life slide a little bit. These are times to tread water – and to do it guilt-free.
Stated another way, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking an easy job, or declining a promotion, or just kind of parking yourself in an easily-manageable role for a while. If you are lucky enough to work a job that provides you with a short commute, or a flexible schedule, or the ability to not answer emails after 6:00 pm, take it if you need and want to!
Yes, you might be foregoing some opportunities for professional advancement. But we’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: when it comes to your career, play a long game. While you might miss out on some cool job prospects, you’re preserving your ability to put your foot back on the gas pedal when you’re ready. And new and different opportunities for advancement will be waiting for you when your intense parenting season winds down.
As a huge plus, treading water for a while might help you prevent burning out altogether – and that’s a thing you really truly want to avoid if you can. Ramping down your career is a far better option than letting yourself become so exhausted and stretched thin that you opt out completely! (Don’t just take our word for it. Have you seen this calculator showing the financial penalty taken by women who off ramp? Ahhhhh!)
So go easy on yourselves, mamas. Take care of yourself, take care of your kids. Put the career on simmer when you have to, and then turn up that flame when you’re ready. We’re rooting for you. We’re always rooting for you.