I have a lot to say about the LEAN IN trend: I’ve Leaned In so much that I nearly fell over. And one way I can support fellow working women is by giving you some honest advice that you didn’t read in the book Lean In.
I’ve been Leaning In for over 15 years as a Marketing Professional raising two Gen Zs. For most of my career, I’ve Leaned In to go Part Time or have a Flexible schedule, juggling work and home with no help or husband present before 8pm. See Coveting Not the Corner Office but Time at Home .
Ironically, most of my peers think that as a working mother, I am “so lucky” to have such Flexibility (but truly I earned it). But I found that having Flexibility meant I was available to Lean In and be so flexible that I could lean in, bend over & fall over for everyone at anytime.
Having worked in every scenario – PT, FT, Flex, Home – and trying different types of childcare, I believe I’ve gained some wisdom that was not in LEAN IN, or discussed at school pick up because as we know, not all women support each other (Perfect Madness by Judith Warner)
Thus, here are my five recommendations for all working mothers in Generations X or Y on how to LEAN IN, Without Falling Down, especially if you are not a millionaire.
- LEAN IN but Don’t be a Martyr if You Get What You Want
Don’t go overboard with appreciation if for example, you got approval to work PT. Many peers say they end up work the same FT hours for PT pay.
(One CMO said he likes to hire PT employees for this reason)
- Create a Work Schedule & Be Really Rigid About it
Working PT/Flex requires serious self-discipline. Gen Zs need to know when you are free to drive them to the mall, and when you are not. Don’t bend unless it’s an emergency. Same goes for your Boss! This totally works for me.
- Create Boundaries between Work and Family
Inform your Family when and where you are working, because if you don’t, you’ll get no respect from anyone. Set up an area at home that is your Home Office and keep the Gen Zs off your computer.
- Find a Way to Hire Help – for Your Gen Zs or with Housework
Even a few hours a week during or after school, will help sustain your sanity. If you work while your Gen Zs are in school, something always comes up like snow days or staff development and there goes your schedule. Hire a High School student who can help with homework; your kids will appreciate some extra attention since you may have none left by 7pm.
- Get your Gen Zs & Husband/Partner to Help with the Housework
For most of us, the housework and childcare falls on us, working or not. But that’s not right and don’t let your family get away with that expectation. My kids are willing to do chores, which helps me and teaches them how to take care of themselves. I didn’t get an MBA to be a Maid.
My goal is for women of Generations X and Y to think hard about the work scenario they choose and take the above issues into consideration before Leaning In, and later maybe Falling Down from exhaustion. Once you opt out of the workforce, it’s very hard to get back in. And our Gen Zs will be in college before we know it!