Job and Career Changes After Baby: Did You Make Changes? How?

Career Changes After Baby | CorporetteMomsLadies, have you made career changes after having your baby? If so, how did your career, job, and general standard operating procedures change because of family? Did you effectively plan for the change before meeting your son or daughter, or did you change plans midstream? We talked once about planning your career for babies (back when I was pregnant with Jack!) but not really since, and I’m curious for your take.

Kate recently sent me a snapshot of a local article, quoting a pregnant television producer/host:

DeTar hopes to film Fringe Benefits past the second season and expressed interest in moving into other countries and writing a companion book for the show. With a child on the way, she doesn’t expect her aspirations or goals to change.

“I feel so thankful for the timing of all of it… maybe I’m being really naive, but I don’t see anything changing,” she says. “I… have the most supportive husband in the universe, and I don’t think he would let me not continue with the show.”

This is well-timed with other stuff I’ve been seeing recently — there was a recent article in Forbes about how a lot of women become freelancers, contractors, or entrepreneurs when they become mothers. And there was a great discussion (on this site and Corporette) on how to have a baby when both parents are working in BigLaw. SO, ladies, let’s hear it — how, if at all, has your Plan changed since having kids? Were there particular deciding factors (money, time, etc.), or was it a more general sense of “everything is different now“? For those of you who HAVE adhered to your Plan (since I’m assuming, cynically perhaps, that most of us have switched gears a bit) — how much focus did it take? Were there factors that were must-haves (double nannies, SAHD, etc)?

Pictured at top: Whychus Creek, originally uploaded to Flickr by Ian Sane


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  1. Babyweight says:

    I now practice at 80% and moved to a counsel position. I “mommy-tracked” myself and so far it’s been a great move for me. After I struggled for 2 years as a senior associate working full time while my hubs was doing the same at his small firm, this was our solution. I’m super happy. (Full-time nanny route not a choice we wanted to make for our family. See also hubs being at a small firm. Even with my pay cut, I take home more than him.)

  2. Kept the work ( and career focus ) the same, and changed the life bit around. Husband stepped up to be a true “co-parent”; grandparents were wonderful to come and spend long periods of time helping us out (they both live overseas); and we have a full time nanny. I love being with my baby (8 mos) but also love my job and my salary is a major share of our household income. This works best for me–just when i am getting fed up of work by around 6pm each day, I get to go home and cuddle with baby; just when i am itchy for intellectual company by sunday evening i get to go into work. As a result am up for promotion, despite being on maternity leave this year and the extra income will help out.

    I think each person is wired differently in terms of what makes them happy–just because you are a mom does not necessarily mean that you want to spend every minute with your baby and just because you work does not mean that you want to only be at office. The trick is “knowing your unique self” and trying to create an environment around you that helps maximize your happiness production function– guilt free (the last two words the most important!). This is what I am striving to acheive.

    • I might steal that phrase “knowing your unique self.” I’ve used “you have to do what works for you” in the career context and when talking to prospective college applicants who I interview for my alma mater. It’s so true!

  3. I returned to work at my law firm four days a week after three months of maternity leave. (I highly recommend being out of the office for a full day if you decide to go down to 80%…If I were just supposed to leave early every day it would never happen.) It’s been almost a year and has worked out well. I travel less, teleconference more, and set and enforce boundaries without a problem. But business at my firm has been on the down slide for a while and I have finally decided to leave. I’m moving to a hybrid legal/HR position in higher ed. It will be five days a week, but I am hoping it will be less stressful and demanding than my current client-facing role. For me, it was all about having more stability and less constant stress and demands for my attention. I hope it works!!

  4. NewMomAnon says:

    Still struggling with this. I stayed at my law firm with a significantly reduced hours goal that I am struggling to meet. As a single mom of a (very intense) young child, I don’t have the flexibility that most law firms require; I can’t work weekends, I can’t stay late at work, I can’t take early morning phone calls unless I can get my kiddo to daycare before the call. I am trying to retool into an area that would be my own book of business so I can set my work schedule, but I suspect that I will need to consider a career change in a year if that doesn’t work out.

    I think the key for many working moms succeeding in professional, demanding careers is the supportive co-parent; my STBX just didn’t get it and kept insisting that he was pulling more of the weight than I was, and actively resisted helping any more. That meant no evening work functions, I needed to keep maximum flexibility for daycare sick days, and I was (and often am) just exhausted from being the only parent up at night, the only parent prepping bottles for daycare, the only parent doing laundry or planning meals or monitoring ear infections.

    Also, find a daycare with extended hours!!! I think a lot of people assume a nanny is the only way to get flexiblity, but nannies are capped at 40 hours a week unless you pay overtime. My daycare is open 12.5 hours a day; I can drop off at 6 am and pick up at 6:30. I don’t use those extended hours often, but when I need them…it’s helpful.

  5. CPA Lady says:

    Made no changes to my career. Almost quit my job after this spring tax season, but instead realized that I just needed more help outside of work during busy season– a list of reliable babysitters, starting to outsource more household chores, completely gave up on the idea of cooking, etc. I don’t work biglaw hours though, and would not want that lifestyle at all. I’m only required to bill 1700 hours, but a ton of that is in the spring and the fall. 7 months out of the year I don’t work more than 40 hours a week. It works for me. I do sometimes think of “going seasonal” sometime down the road once my daughter is older and has summers off school.

    Something I have done is be more thoughtful and purposeful both at work and at home. I choose hobbies/”extracurricular” (for lack of better word) things that do “double duty”– for example I’m supposed to be involved in the community and network for my job. I’m in the Jr League and it lets me hang out with my friends while doing volunteer work and meeting other people, etc. I find things that I want to do, so doing them is a joy instead of a hassle.

  6. I totally mommy-tracked. After my second child, I struggled at an AMLaw 200 firm for about 2 years before stepping away from practice completely. I work full-time, but it’s a state job with many wonderful benefits and predictable hours. I am so much less stressed out and feel like I can fully enjoy my family and non-work life. Some days I do feel like a quitter and that I wasn’t skilled or smart enough to be a lawyer, but the benefits far outweigh the self doubt.

  7. Meg Murry says:

    I’m not sure how much my career shift is due to the fact that I had kids, or whether I would have taken the same types of paths after 10-15 years in the industry without kids.

    However, when I was in college (and before) I was sure I was going to be super-career-woman. I was passionate! I was full of energy! I was going to climb ladders and bust through glass ceilings and *BE SOMEONE IMPORTANT* (Ellen caps necessary). I knew I wanted kids, but I wasn’t sure how much, and that was much more in the hazy future. I have always been terrible at household management (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc) and my husband has always been the primary one taking care of that kind of thing, and we agreed when we were married that I was probably going to be the primary breadwinner and he was going to have a job but be the one primarily taking care of things at home – both before and when we had kids.

    I stayed on this path for a long time. When my first son was born, I only took 6 weeks off, and then went back part time for a couple of weeks, and I stayed in touch via email for the whole time. The economy took a downturn then, so my husband was at home with my son more, and I was just focused on keeping my job (my company wasn’t doing so well and there were a lot of layoffs).

    But I lost my passion for my job and my field, and started to feel jealous of my husband and all the time he spent with my son. And it only got worse after my second son was born. I realize now that a huge part of it was that I felt trapped – and I wonder if that is how the stereotypical 1950s man felt? It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to be home with the kids – I just wanted to feel like I was choosing to work, not that I absolutely had to in order to keep paying the mortgage and keep having health insurance.

    In the end though, my fears came true, and we decided I could no longer keep killing myself at a job I hated just for health insurance. At the end of 2013 I took the leap, and we gambled on Cobra if necessary until we could get insurance on the Health Exchanges in 2014. It wasn’t cheap, and we were digging into our reserves like crazy (and we didn’t have tons to start with – my pay was never anything like BigLaw, it was pretty much exactly the US household median income at best). But I wasn’t miserable anymore, and I was able to find part time work, while keeping my kids in daycare.

    Now I’m at a small company, and I’m so much happier being a medium fish in a tiny pond. My pay is so-so, but the benefits are great – both for me as a parent, and for the young single people that work here and are able to have lives outside of work. Maybe I’m not where I thought I would be one day (as all my college classmates are writing in to our alumni magazine about how they are making law partner and starting their own medical practices, getting tenure at big name universities, etc), but I’m learning that careers are long, and its ok to take it as a walking marathon, not a sprint and collapse.

  8. AuntE says:

    I made a job change while I was pregnant — that was a bit of a surprise to my former employer, because I was only 12 weeks when I interviewed, and 5.5 months along when they offered me the job. I hesitated to make the move because of my pregnancy, but I am so glad I went for it. I moved from billing 1900 hours in a medium firm without a maternity leave policy to a state government job specifically for the 40 hour weeks and government holidays (thinking ahead to stay at home with the kids on their days when school is closed). My husband, a freelancer, shifted his working hours to more consistent, traditional business hours in order to stay home with the baby 3 days a week. I am so happy I moved when I did. I love my new job; the office is very supportive and family-friendly; and my husband and I are both happy with day care three days a week and dad-care two days a week.

  9. anne-on says:

    I intentionally joined, and stayed at, (despite a few years of under-market rate promotions) a firm with a really good culture for promoting women, supporting families, and telework. I’ve worked remotely (aside from travel) since before I was pregnant and honestly its the biggest game changer for me. I’m able to do drop off/pick-ups, run out for drs. appts., grabbed a sick kid, etc. without anyone saying boo (or even noticing sometimes). I turned down a job at a 50% increase in my then salary a year ago since it would require a 1.5hr commute, which would necessitate a live-in nanny to replace me (my husband has big-finance hours). Hands down the best decision I could have made for my family.
    That said, we’re also stopping at 1. Having two children with some of the health issues my first born has and a second child added into the mix would be too much for me to deal with considering we have no family in town/no regular sitters we rely on.

  10. rakma says:

    I didn’t change much. I work from home one day a week, but otherwise, I kept the same work load, travel schedule, etc. My husband and I have similar salaries, and we would not be able to live on only one income, so me working is a financial necessity, as well as something I’ve always wanted.

    We have in-home child care from my MIL, which is a huge help (like a nanny you’re related to! It works for us) I don’t cook much, and what I do is usually done on the weekend and eaten all week, cleaning happens not much, and DH is as involved in childcare and housework as I am.

    I’m not in law, don’t work those kinds of hours, never wanted to. I’m using the degrees I worked for, (and I’m still paying for) and though I love my DD, I’m a better mom because I leave her most days.

  11. I wasn’t happy as an overworked assistant professor at a small liberal arts college and this really became clear to me while on (totally unpaid) maternity leave with my first child. I applied for other positions while on leave and interviewed at a school in another state (with my small infant and husband in tow) shortly after I returned to work. I got the job, which is more of a step-up in career for me at a bigger and more respected school. The move has worked well. My husband didn’t work for the first 10 months after we moved, which really helped us get established, allowed me to focus on my new position, and helped our toddler with the transition. My new school honored my teaching years at the pervious school so I didn’t lose any tenure-clock time. I have been writing and publishing and am up for tenure this year. I’m also expecting our second child in early 2016 a couple of months after my tenure deadlines are met. This time I will have 12 weeks of paid leave and my dean and colleagues have been very supportive. Since we have good child-care connections with our daughter already, I anticipate returning to my regular teaching load after my leave and I’ve applied for a sabbatical to begin a new book project.

  12. I work in BigLaw and so does my husband. When my daughter was born last year and after I took
    My maternity leave, I decided to return to Big Law but on a super reduced schedule. Off partner track and about 50% billable hours. It’s awesome. I have the morning hours and most of the evenings with my child, but she goes to daycare for a good chunk of the day while I head uptown and lawyer it up. I took a major (Major!) pay cut for this sort of arrangement. That being said, I felt that the pay cut was necessary to justify how “detached” I desire to be from my job now. There is no guilt of “oh they pay me $200,000 so I should say yes to being staffed on this deal or answer this email at 10:00 pm”. None of that. So, in a sense the pay cut was liberating. I am lucky that we could afford to do that. A few other women I work with have stayed full time after having kids and it seems really miserable. They try to leave at 5 and log back in at 8 or whenever and it doesn’t seem like the all-male partnership we work for is really on board with that.

    I will also say that even though I work, but because I’m part time, I am 100% in charge of parenting and household duties during the week. My husband just works and leaves the rest of the stuff to me. Not ideal but I understand that’s the most logical division of labor.

  13. Mrs. Jones says:

    I returned to work in Mid-law after 10.5 weeks maternity leave. When son was 3, I left firm life to work for a judge. Obviously the big negative is the reduced paycheck, but everything else is great. Son is in school 8-5:30.

  14. RosslynLawyer says:

    I was working in-house but in a position that required long hours, so I was only seeing my daughter for ~30 minutes a day when I went back to work after 2.5 months of maternity leave. I was miserable, my husband was miserable and I think my daughter was miserable, too. So I spent almost a year job hunting before I found my dream job – part-time, close to home, flexible hours and telecommuting whenever necessary. Like other commenters, I took a huge pay cut, but it has been so worth it. The plan is to go back to full time in a few years when my daughter is a little older and we get tired of not being able to afford vacations.

  15. Lovethisblog says:

    For those who reduced hours or switched from FT to PT work, or stopped working entirely for a bit, was there any impact to your retirement savings, eligibility, or other work benefits? My husband discourages me from reducing hours or switching jobs (currently a prosecutor) for a lot of reasons, one of which is the long term impact to my retirement. Does anyone else have this argument with their spouse/partner? I’ve been at the job 9 years, am ready for a change, and notice that my two boys are still young enough to want me around more and that won’t be the case for much longer.

    • If you are employed by the County, have you looked at other County positions (i.e. Public Defender/County Counsel)? I know that in my area the PD’s office is much more flexible than the Prosecutor’s office and the County Counsel work a modified schedule that gives them Friday afternoons off. The big perk would be that County to County, your retirement/benefits wouldn’t be impacted!

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