Opting Out for the Kids

chairbetterI wrote about the thesis Emily was working on this past Mothers Day.  I honestly can not count how many conversations I have had with women on this topic.  It is one that I have grappled with the last 23 years.  My hope is that the future is a place where there is equality when it comes to opting out for the kids.  Men and women both choose to opt out for a time.  Of course the most difficult thing is returning.

An interesting statistic I heard the other day was that in 5 years 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers.  People stay at jobs for a few years at most not for their full career as they did decades ago.  This says to me that flexibility in regards to our careers is the optimal word here.  Our personal lives have become integrated into our career lives.  Through technology our lives have become one.

Obviously Emily saw first hand that my desire to use my brain,  education and competitive drive was a push/pull when it came to my number one priority which was raising our kids, being present in their lives, having family dinners every night and being a support system at every turn which includes coaching soccer, being home when the kids were sick, being at all the sporting events or plays, etc.  After all there are only 24 hours in the day.  I loved those days when the kids were young.  Picking strawberries, baking cookies, going to Stu Leonard’s to grocery shop, rainy afternoon projects, driving to play dates or cabbing.  I could go on and on.

My career trajectory is one I have written about often.  It was the Internet that truly allowed me to use my working brain and marry it to my Mom brain.  Regardless I am so glad that I opted out for the years that I opted out.

Emily has built an online site for women who write about their experiences from opting out to trying to get back in.  There are a few posts written on the site already.  Really worth reading.  I love the comment about defying labels when it comes to Mom-dom.  To be able to have a variety of careers, wear a variety of hats and shift at each time of your life is an amazing thing.  Those dots always connect.  Sharing those stories help other women learn from their peers about many of the same issues that are bouncing around in their own heads.  It confirms for all of us Moms how it is never easy and those decisions are so hard but how it can work and how you can return.

Please post your stories, send this to your friends, the more people who post the better.  It is the stories that are meaningful to everyone.  It is the data that around these stories that will help us change the ratio when it comes to opting out in the future.

Here is the landing page which begins the conversation:

Before this day is done, a highly educated, full-time professional woman will shut the lights and close the door to her office, turn in her ID and walks away from a promising career.  It is a bitter-sweet departure but an exciting new opportunity awaits—the chance to be managing partner of the ultimate start-up venture, motherhood.

All the exit signs are clearly marked on the path from office to nursery.  Less obvious is the way back.

There are very little options to re-enter the work force once you have left it. Some women try to achieve a kind of work-life balance (part-time work, shared childcare responsibilities), but what does it mean when you are trying to have it all, but not all at once? This in part about women who’ve invested massively in their careers but who walk away from that in order to raise their children. Why make this choice? What will be your future? How are you thinking about your future, career-wise? We’ve created this space for moms and moms-to-be who are opting out of the workforce to care for their children in order to discuss their thought processes regarding this decision and the future of their careers.

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