The New Mommy Track
More mothers win flextime at work, and hubbies' help (really!) at home
Leigh, the former theater manager, exemplifies that dilemma. She eventually decided to quit her job to sell advertisements from home on a commission-only basis. She works in the mornings, before her husband leaves for his afternoon shift at a pharmaceutical company. While she'd like to continue to stay home, she isn't sure that will be possible. "Living in New Jersey is really difficult on one income," she says.
Through interviews with women who chose to leave the workplace, Pamela Stone, author of Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home, found that sometimes just small differences, such as the ability to work from home one or two days a month, would have made it possible for women to stay in the workforce. Often, she says, women's flexible arrangements were based on handshake agreements with supervisors; new bosses meant no more flexibility.
Partly as a result of those continuing difficulties, a growing number of mothers are deciding that starting their own business is the answer. On a cool evening in May, dozens of women gathered in lower Manhattan to celebrate the launch of a new magazine, Hybrid Mom. It caters to women who are balancing work and motherhood with a special focus on mompreneurs, or mothers who launch their own businesses. Linda Shapiro, cofounder of Moms-for-Profit, the company that publishes the magazine, says that two thirds of stay-at-home moms start their own businesses, and they want a place to talk about it.
Low-tech solution. Lori Johnson, 34, is one of those moms. After working more than 80 hours a week as a sales account executive in the semiconductor industry, she quit after having her daughter, Avery, just over two years ago. Not willing to return to such a hectic lifestyle, she decided starting her own business out of her home in Concord, Mass., was a "happy medium." She now designs and sells car seat covers. The idea for Hot Toddies Baby Gear came to her after she became frustrated when people mistook her daughter for a boy because she could find only blue seat covers.
Rachel Thebault, 31, started a bakery, Tribeca Treats, in lower Manhattan after realizing that her investment banking job wasn't conducive to being a mother. "I felt like in the long term that was not going to be a job where I felt like I could commit to being successful at my job and also happily raise a family," she says.
Even though she spends up to 80 hours a week working, she does it according to her own schedule. If her nanny calls in sick, then she brings her daughter, Marin, 2
"In some cases," says author Goodman, "[self-employment] is the only way they could fit work life with their personal life." One woman she interviewed for her book was divorced with five school-age children. The cost of day care would have been overwhelming, so she worked from home as a marketer and copywriter instead.