How Does Being A Working Mom Benefit Your Children?

Every now and then you might read a story about the effects on children from moms moving from the home to the workforce.  Usually the news (or perception) is not positive.  However, I think that entrepreneurial moms have a different story to tell.
From an expert perspective, I strongly believe that being expert problem solvers (notice I didn’t say expert multi-taskers!) gets passed on to our kids.  This isn’t just hearsay, it appears to be neurological and something we can influence through upbringing.  I reference Richard Nisbett in his book, Intelligence and How to Get It, in this excerpt from my book, The Pregnant Entrepreneur:

“It turns out that being read to and exposure to books are socio-economic indicators that are found with higher-IQ children according to Nisbett.[i] Earlier and more consistent access to schools and learning programs are also highly correlated with higher intelligence.[ii] Being exposed to the problem solving, like that required to run a successful business, must qualify as educational, rich, and diverse experiences. Entrepreneurial mothers were not highlighted as a group in Intelligence and How to Get It. Although not scientifically studied, it makes sense that if you are steeped in the entrepreneurial environment and, even better, expose your child to aspects of it, your child is likely to benefit cognitively from that experience.”

From the perspective of a services professional, I can tell you that one of target client sets is young adults who have not learned the skills or organizing because their parents never taught them.  I believe that the entrepreneurial family is more likely to pass on skills that allow a person to be self-sustaining and more able to achieve their own goals.
From the perspective of a mom, I can tell you that my 4-year old helps me take care of the house because I expect that, and she’s learned to be part of the family team from an early age.  She’s also learned that there are times when you work, and times when you play.  She gets it now, and I expect that she’ll continue to grow into a person who can structure her own time to meet her goals.  Prioritizing is a critical life skill, so you can enjoy life more.
I’ve talked to at least three people just this week who said to me that their inability to prioritize is their biggest problem.  Successful business owners must prioritize, or they aren’t successful.  If we pass this trait or skill alone onto our kids, we’ve done our jobs as entrepreneurs and moms at the same time.  Ka-ching!

Are They Holding Your Pregnancy Against You?

The same week my book was published, posted an article entitled, “The Pregnant Entrepreneur and the Venture Capitalist  Who Wouldn’t Fund Her.”  Jessica Jackley, cofounder of two significant small businesses, shares her reactions to a blog post where one of her investors questions her ability to be a mom and a leader since she is expecting twins in the fall.

Helloooooo.  Moms are born leaders.  Or did this male VC never have a mother?

Jessica points out an attitude that any pregnant business owner deals with at some point, whether it is from an investor, a client, a family member, or (sadly) herself.  No one ever asks a man if he’ll be able to continue to do his job after he expands his family, and yet someone will ask that of a pregnant entrepreneur.

Like many other places in life, a woman may have to over-plan, proactively explain, and just plain out-perform her male counterparts to sail through these waters. It’s gonna happen, ladies, so be ready for at least one neanderthal to bring this up, or to make an unfavorable decision during your pregnancy. It’s not the end of the world.  In a few months, your motherhood will be more of a title than a fashion accessory.

If you get burned by discriminatory attitudes, remember that the good guys do outnumber the bad guys.  I have two favorite stories about client reactions during my pregnancies.  One client contacted me for a work session during my ninth month of pregnancy.  We chatted on the phone and arranged to meet for the appointment.  I prepared him for a very pregnant person arriving on his doorstep, but I also made it clear that if I didn’t arrive as planned, it was only due to an early arrival.  We did joke that, as a professional organizer, I intended to deliver on my due date, and that’s what happened.   He was great to work with.

The second story was a design client who put off a project we were planning, and at the last possible minute begged me to do a project before my maternity leave because his kids were visiting.  He appreciated the redesign job we completed (genius was the word he used), and then asked if I had moved the baby grand piano.  This guy had no concept that a pregnant woman would have any limitations and could be suspect of moving a baby grand. I had worked for him before, and so he knew to expect good things from my company.

I can’t imagine any circumstance as an entrepreneur where running into discriminatory attitudes would be cause for more than a little grousing and whining.  If you think otherwise, or have been in a situation that required action, I’d love to hear about it.  Mostly, I was able to chalk up subtle doubts and concerns from clients to experience and move on.  Remember, pregnancy is temporary.  Just about 50% of the workforce is female, and once you get through this stage, you won’t be special or a target to anyone, except your little ones.