A Week in the Life of a Working Mom: Part-Time, Work-at-Home Attorney

work-at-home attorney momFor this week’s installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader Mindy B., who lives in a suburb of Detroit and is a work-at-home attorney mom with a teenage daughter. Our usual caveat applies: Please remember that this is is a real person who has feelings and isn’t gaining anything from this, unlike your usual friendly (soul-deadened, thick-skinned, cold-hearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! – Kat

If you’d like to be featured (anonymously or otherwise), please fill out this form! You can see all posts in this series here.

First, Some Basics about this Working Mom…

Name: Mindy B.
Lives: A Detroit suburb
Job: Work at home (part time) for a boutique law firm
Age: 49
Home Situation: I live in a Tudor home in a community-oriented small town with my husband who travels frequently for work, our 14-year-old daughter who’s in all honors classes (plus band) in 8th grade and swims competitively 20+ hours per week, and two 2-year-old CRAZY pups.
Childcare Situation: Because I work from home, I only need babysitters when we will be out past the time our daughter goes to sleep (i.e., theater, etc.) but I do need “chauffeurs” to drive our daughter to/from activities when I have afternoon or evening commitments and my husband is traveling/working late.

Mindy pointed out how her schedule may be different from other Week in the Life moms we feature:  

(1) we only have one child (I have NO idea how parents juggle more than one child!), (2) she’s more responsible than most adults I know, and (3) my husband’s office is an hour away from home and he also travels out of town 1–2 nights a week, 2–3 weeks per month.

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A Week in the Life of a Working Mom: A Midwestern Lawyer Mom with Four Kids

lawyer mom to four kids in the midwestFor the sixth installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce CorporetteMoms reader Elizabeth. She’s a 42-year-old consultant/ lawyer mom to four kids; she lives in the Midwest. Our usual caveat applies: Please remember that this is is a real person who has feelings and isn’t gaining anything from this, unlike your usual friendly (soul-deadened, thick-skinned, cold-hearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! – Kat

If you’d like to be featured (anonymously or otherwise), please fill out this form! You can see all posts in this series here. You can also sort by tag, such as “daycare,” “au pair,” and “lawyer mom.” (We’re working on devising a system that makes sense.)

First, Some Basics about this Working Mom…

Name: Elizabeth
Lives: Midwest
Job: consultant/attorney — I lead annual strategic planning efforts for hospital clients, as well as hospital mergers.
Age: 42
Home Situation: 

My husband is family medicine physician who covers inpatients at the hospital every third weekend. We have four school-age children: A, 13-year-old son; E, 10-year-old daughter; B & D, 7-year-old twin sons. We live in a 4000-square-foot house in the suburbs.

Childcare Situation: $18,000/year.

We have had Au Pairs for the past four years. The last two have been males. Prior to that we covered childcare with a number of options: a preschool teacher/nanny, a college student that lived in during the summer, hubby took Mondays off and I took Fridays off. We love the Au Pair help. My spouse and I have schedules that change from week to week, depending on his inpatient load and my travel. Having an Au Pair has eliminated the hours of stress and scrambling with multiple care providers to try to cover different hours we needed. For instance, the preschool teacher was a wonderful caregiver but had a family of her own so was unavailable to help in the evenings or weekends. Fortunately, we have a supportive family network nearby that was able to assist in some of those previous pinches. But it is nice now to have that family come to support the kids’ extracurricular activities or have special one-on-one time with the children, rather than serve in the role of an emergency babysitter.

Our Au Pairs transition about every year or so. We have appreciated the ease of picking a new care provider to sync up with the evolving needs of our children. For instance, our first Au Pair was a nurturing female who was excellent with our toddler twins. Or more recent Au Pairs have been active males who play sports and make up fun games to play. I expect in a few years we will be interested in a caregiver that can provide more homework support.

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A Week in the Life of a Working Mom: Government Attorney in the Midwest

For the fifth installment of our Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce a CorporetteMoms reader who asked us to call her HSAL. She’s a 35-year-old government attorney in a large Midwestern city and has one child. Our usual caveat applies: Please remember that this is is a real person who has feelings and isn’t gaining anything from this, unlike your usual friendly (soul-deadened, thick-skinned, cold-hearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! – Kat

If you’d like to be featured (anonymously or otherwise), please fill out this form! You can see all posts in this series here.

First, Some Basics about this Working Mom…

Name: HSAL
Lives: Large Midwestern city
Job: Government attorney
Age: 35
Home Situation: 1400-square-foot townhome with husband (researcher) and 18-month-old girl, and a cat. Getting ready to move in the next year.
Childcare Situation: Daycare ($287/week)

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A Week in the Life of a Working Mom: A BigLaw Mom in Chicago

biglaw mom chicagoFor our second Week in the Life of a Working Mom series, I’m happy to introduce Reader L., who is a 29-year-old BigLaw mom in Chicago with a toddler and a work-at-home dad. Our usual caveat applies: please remember that this is is a real person who has feelings and isn’t gaining anything from this, unlike your usual friendly (soul-deadened, thick-skinned, cold-hearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! – Kat

If you’d like to be featured (anonymously or otherwise) for a “week in the life of a working mom” feature, please fill out this form here! You can see all posts in this series here.

Psst: if you’re interested in the BigLaw lifestyle, you may find our interviews with a lawyer mom working reduced hours.

First, Some Basics about this Working Mom…

Name: L.
Lives: Chicago
Job: BigLaw corporate junior associate
Age: 29
Home Situation: 

I live on the first floor of a standard Chicago two-flat (3-bed, 1-bath apartment) with my husband (30-year-old computer programmer and work-at-home dad) and our 20-month-old daughter.

Childcare Situation: 

We have a nanny who comes three mornings a week (15 hours total). Otherwise my husband stays home and takes care of our daughter. Whenever we have my parents or my husband’s parents in from out of town, they watch the baby for an afternoon/evening, too. We pay the nanny $20/hour for 15 hours a week, paid on the books (so with taxes/fees, etc., works out to $23/hour).

 

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How to Be a Great Part-Time Associate

how to be a great part-time associateAs I mentioned a few weeks ago, my friend Y has had a very successful run as a part-time associate, working reduced hours (about an 80% schedule) for years now.  I asked her for some of the top tips she’s learned along the way, and she was kind enough to share her tips for both negotiating a reduced work schedule as well as the tips below, how to have a successful run as a part-time associate.  Ladies who’ve negotiated similar flexible work arrangements — do you agree with Y’s tips? What are your best tips for how to be a great part-time associate? 

As an associate working reduced hours, here is what I learned along the way that I would offer as advice to anyone in the same position, or contemplating making the switch:

1) Remember you are making a professional sacrifice. Remember how I said in my first post that you can’t have it all? The reduced work hours approach, in many cases, forecloses certain professional opportunities. In the BigLaw world, when you’re not available 24/7, you’re simply not as desirable for certain assignments or projects. As a junior associate, I didn’t really realize this, but as I got up there in years, it became clear to me that my professional experience was not — and could not b‎e — as well-rounded as that of my peers, and could not progress at the same rate. Most days, this was just fine, since I continued to remind myself that I was making the sacrifice to be able to raise my children as I wanted (by then, there were more of them). Some days I did feel frustrated at my perceived lack of professional development. All in all, I would say: Be prepared to make the sacrifice, and remember what you’re gaining in return.

2) ‎Stick to your agreed-upon schedule (mostly). We corporate types didn’t get to where we are for lack of hard work, and I would venture to guess that many of us have a hard time not going above and beyond. But when you’re on a reduced hours or part-time schedule, you have to be disciplined about leaving the office at the agreed-upon time and/or not working beyond the hours you’ve committed to. Avoiding “schedule creep” can be a huge challenge, particularly when everyone else is working many more hours than you are. I made a concerted effort to remind myself that a deal is a deal and that I wasn’t doing anything wrong by leaving the office at 6:00 every day; in fact, I wasn’t being paid to stay beyond then.

3) But be flexible. No part-time job in the corporate world is truly limited to 9-5 hours. While it’s important not to be a pushover or feel bad about not working to the extent your colleagues are, it’s key to demonstrate that you’re still committed to your job and are willing, when necessary, to stay late at work, get online after the kids are in bed, or travel overnight. It’s a delicate balance, and you have to have the professional experience to determine when the extra hours are necessary and/or would be appreciated by your colleagues.

4) Anticipate some level of jealousy or animosity. While others are burning the midnight oil and you head out to your second job as a mom, some may resent you for leaving earlier. I always just ignored this, since I had an official arrangement with the firm and was getting paid less than them, in accordance with how much I worked.

5) Reassess the flexible work arrangement as time goes on. Just because a reduced hours schedule suits you at one point doesn’t mean that it will always be right for you. There may come a time that you throw yourself back in the game on a full-time basis because the kids have grown, your spouse or partner becomes more available, or your life otherwise changes. Fortunately, it should be easier to transition back to a full-time workload since you’ve had your head in the game as a part-time employee rather than being out of the workforce entirely.

Ladies — have you ever tried reducing your working hours to 80% or less? What were your thoughts on it, and what are your best tips for other women considering such a flexible work arrangement? 

Pictured: Pixabay.