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For many mothers the question of the decade is, “How do I have a successful career while keeping my children a top priority? Is it really possible to do both?” That answer is YES! Below are just a few examples of successful women in sought-after careers who have managed to stand up for what is most important to them (their kids) and juggle the demands of a successful career:
Karen Hughes made international headlines in 2002 when she quit her job working for George W. Bush, jet-setting on Air Force One, power meetings with world leaders, and an office in the West Wing of the White House. Why? To spend more time with her teenage son and husband. Serving the President was “a tug-of-war between career and family” she wrote in her 2004 book Ten Minutes From Normal. In an interview with Austin Woman Magazine, Hughes says “The decision for me to leave the White House and come home to Texas in 2002 was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life.” Hughes worked hard to help elect Bush as President but later realized “that it was really his goal, and that it was conflicting with my goal of being the best wife and mother I could be.”
Phoebe Philo had one of the most glamorous, sought-after jobs in the world as creative fashion director Chloe, of the trendiest fashion houses in the world. She walked away from her job in 2005 in order to spend more time with her children. In 2008, she was offered the position of fashion director of Celine, based in Paris, France. She accepted the position on the basis that she could keep her family in her hometown of London and work from home. After a recent fashion show, she never spoke with the media or a buyer without her 5-year old in her arms.
Knowing that doctors work insane hours and are at everyone’s beck-and-call, Pediatrician Jennifer Helmcamp knew that spending quality time with her two young daughters at the prime of her medical career would be challenging. “When I interviewed for the position at Scott and White Health Clinic, I simply asked if I could work a 30-hour per week schedule – just enough to earn full benefits for my family. The health clinic was supportive of my modified schedule.” All she had to do was ask! And today she is part of a job share with a fellow mom/pediatrician. They share each other’s clients and neither of them works more than 30 hours a week in order to spend more time with their children.
The majority of big-name movie stars hire full-time nannies to stay home with the kids while mom is on location filming 18-20-hour days. Not Julia Roberts. While globetrotting to exotic locations for her film Eat, Pray, Love, her children were on set with her every moment. At every break, she ran to find her children and whisked them into her arms. “If I ever had to decide between family and my career, it is a no-brainer. There is no question which would come first. There is nothing more important to me than my children.”
Where are your priorities?
What would you do if….
Your boss asks you to work late but your child’s baseball game or ballet recital is that night?
You are scheduled to work out of town on your child’s birthday?
You have an important sale to make which could pay a large commission, but it is your wedding anniversary and you and your spouse have plans that night?
You receive a high number of phone calls on your cell phone. Your family has decided to take a day off and go to Sea World. Do you keep your phone turned on or turned off while with your family?
It is important to go through these scenarios in your head because they will happen at some point in time (you may be like me and experienced all of these scenarios already). You want to be mentally prepared how to handle it when it arises.
Just keep in mind when making these critical decisions: In 10 or 20 years when you look back at the decisions you made, did you make decisions to please your boss, the company you work for or your bank account – or did you made decisions for the well-being of your family? If you always (yes, always) keep your family first, you will never regret any decisions you make and your family will have much more love and respect for you.
“It would be nice if it took something short of a heart attack to get us to work out, eat better and spend more time with our kids” – Nancy Gibbs for TIME Magazine