Monday, February 21, 2011

"Mom Job" Discussion Group… Right Here in Susan Ireland's Job Lounge

Are you a mom with a career? A mom who wants a career but can't find the time to squeeze it into your life? Or a mom who needs to earn a paycheck and stay at home with the kids?

Meet Garla Smith, creator of Smart Moms and Smart Moms Online. Garla is going to lead a discussion group here in Susan Ireland's Job Lounge. She'll answer your questions, and from time to time post a short article. So get ready to post your comments and follow the thread as moms discuss "mom jobs," the art of juggling employment and motherhood.

The Desperate Need for a "Mom Job"

by Garla Smith

There was a time when it was a given that a woman, once married, would stay home and care for her husband, home and children. At some point we women realized we also were bright, intelligent beings with amazing capabilities to contribute to “real” careers, and we began entering the work force in droves. Who said we couldn’t have it all?

The reality, as many women today are discovering, is that while you can have “both” a career and a family, “all” is an overstatement. Working a traditional full-time job means handing the care and raising of your child to someone else (and often being too exhausted and harried to enjoy the times when you are together.)

The alternative – staying at home full-time with the children — is often unrealistic financially. Even for those women lucky enough to have the funds to do so, the subsequent loss of intellectual stimulation, the independence of a paycheck and daily social interaction can be surprisingly devastating.

What then is the happy medium? The Holy Grail of modern motherhood: A “mom job.” What is a mom job? It can be different things to different people, but common denominators include workplace and scheduling flexibility, part-time hours, the option to work from home part or all of the time, and leeway to take time off for sick children or school activities.

This blog will address the pursuit of the mom job, how to search for one, how to secure one, even how to convert your existing job into a mom job.

Post your questions here and let’s see how we can help each other find that infamous mom job.


Ramblings said...
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Ramblings said...

I think it would be incredibly difficult to work at home with kids home. However, many people seek it as a viable way to do two things at once. It seems nice but somewhat unrealistic. Anybody I know who has done it has pulled most of their hair out. However, I had a daycare for a few years which was a great experience. My kids always had playdates and we did a lot of fun stuff. If you don't need a ton of money, an after school daycare is the best of both worlds.

Anonymous said...

I am currently a working mom. At times, I find it hard for me to give my son all the attention he needs when I get home. I am often tired from my day. And there's just no time for play - with all the household chores. Do you have any suggests for finding a more balanced life-style? How do I also take "me time" without feeling bad?

Ramblings said...

Part time work is the way to go if you can swing it. Let some of the housework go if you can.

WillaAnn said...

First, I want to applaud Garla for establishing this post. What a wonderful service you are providing, it would have been so helpful to me when I was going through it.

My sons are grown, now, but I was able to create my own mom job while they were young until they went into high school. Fortunately, I had already made many connections by the time I established my "mom job", and so I was able to secure part-time and contract work for 12 years.

I never made a lot of money, but it did allow us to take family trips, buy a newer car, etc. Most importantly, it allowed me to be an active, supportive parent in the lives of my sons. I will always cherish those years.

It's not without sacrifice, though. You need to continue to add to some kind of retirement account and to your family savings so you have the means to supplement family finances when needed.

Still, it's worth pursuing and I look forward to seeing the wonderful "mom jobs" that come out of everyone's creativity and dedication toward this goal.



Garla Smith said...

Working from home with a younger child who is home full-time can be especially challenging. It's difficult to get work done uninterrupted. Often work-from-home jobs make the most sense after the children are in school or pre-school at least part-time, or when some of the work can be done after the children's bedtime. An in-home daycare as you mention can be a great option for those with younger children (For those considering this, check your state laws regarding childcare businesses to ensure compliance - keeping more than a certain number of children in your home normally requires a license and home inspections).

Garla Smith said...

Dear Working Mom, I understand your challenge. Even for those of us working at home, it's still difficult to give our children what they need. I would encourage you to do some things that recharge you during the day or on your way home from work. Maybe you use your lunch break to exercise or take a walk outside. Or listen to a motivation tape, some great music, or just take some time to enjoy the ride home. Whatever works for you, use it so that you have some energy for your child when you get home. Don't be too hard on yourself if every minute isn't perfect; strive for at least one or two extended periods of quality interaction with your little one every day. Perhaps you can get him involved in cooking with you or reading you a book while you cook dinner, or doing his homework in the kitchen with you. A well-defined bedtime routine that involves down time for both of you is ideal. Taking 5 minutes to talk about the highlights of their day or saying prayers together can mean all the difference to your child (and you!). Keep in mind that this time is just a "season" and your child will be grown and out of the house before you know it. Find a way to enjoy it - it goes all too fast!

Anonymous said...

I am a working mom with a full time job. I have the luck that I could also work at home but decide not to because of the distractions included. I find it hard to stay focused on my work with the excitement available in the next room. I also am lucky to have a full time stay at home dad to look after our baby. However to still keep a balance we have house keeping and the MIL to look after a few tasks. I find that it is still the expectation of daddy that his work day ends when I get home. This means I have a 8-9 hours work day, a 1.5 hour (round-trip) commute and then spend the 2 hours after I get home 100% with my baby and take her to bed. I take a few minutes in the evening to pick up the toys (I have a maximum rule of one basket of toys available at a time) and put in a load of laundry. Hanging up laundry and washing dishes I do in the morning before I drive to work, when I have at least a bit of energy and also no one else to look after. I have also managed to convince my husband that dinner needs to be ready when I get home - or close to it and that NO I dont want to come home and go grocery shopping first...

Garla Smith said...

Dear Working Mom, I took some time to respond to your post because relationship challenges are indeed tough and I want to be clear on my advice. I am not a psychologist but I do understanding the balancing act and communication with your spouse. You are indeed juggling a great deal and at a point in your marriage where communication is critical.

Congratulations on recognizing that working at home would be a distraction. Your husband may on some subconscious level be resentful that he is at home and somehow doing "women's" work. Often men who take on a stay-at-home role assume their only responsibility is child care, and that the woman will continue doing all of the housework she took on before they had children - whereas most women who stay home will assume both responsibilities. Because the resentment can fester and create a rift that will be difficult to repair, it's absolutely vital for the health of your marriage and relationship that the two of you work together to set up a clear contract as to your roles and responsibilities. This will involve first listening to and understanding the other's point of view regarding the current setup. (It's very important here to avoid blaming the other person - use "I feel" phrases rather than "You always/never. . .") Then you can each draft a list of responsibilities you feel is "fair" for each of you, and discuss any discrepancies. Set ground rules that the ultimate goal is the success and happiness of your family life -- it's hard to go wrong there! If you can get a hold of Going Back To Work A Survival Guide for Comeback Moms by Quigley and Kaufman has a great chapter (5) on the Family Challenge. It should be available through your local library.

Best of Luck

Garla Smith said...

Dear WillaAnn,

Thanks for portraying a realistic view of the pros and cons of working your “mom job”. You are correct, in many instances you will have to take a cut in pay in order to have some flexibility for your family agenda. In most instances it is worth the pay cut. Also by having a “mom job” during those years where you may otherwise be just at home, you are resume building. Many moms have started a home day care and parlayed that into a full-time health care position (adults or children) or eventually went to work for the school system as an educator or teacher’s assistant when their children get older and into school. Other moms have started home tutoring businesses and tutored 3-4 students in the afternoons and weekends while their children are home and transferred that experience into a community college tutoring job or biding on a school system contract to provide after school tutoring for multiple schools. The sky is the limit.

Keep sharing your “mom jobs” and your experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Garla Smith said...

Dear Ramblings, WillaAnn and other Moms,

How did you recharged and get ready for your mom job? Do you have a mom's day out or night out once a week or month? How did you negotiate that with your significant other?

Susan Ireland said...

I get a lot of emails with "Work from home..." subject lines. Are there any cautions about opening or responding to these emails?

Thanks for answering all these questions. It's great to have you here in the Job Lounge!

Garla Smith said...

Dear Susan and Mom Job Seekers,

Let me first say, I have the latest virus protections on all of my computers. I run scans regularly and make sure that my virus definitions are up to date.

We have written a Guide to Legitimate Work From Home which speaks in detail about my response.

Here are some rules to consider:

1. 99% of the time, do not read or open an email that has "work from home" in the title. (The other 1% that I actually open, I do because they’re from someone I know). And even then you should make sure the person sent it before opening an odd-looking attachment, as spammers sometimes send viruses to someone’s entire address book).

2. If it is from somebody I know or I think it is a trusted source, I Google information from that email such as person's name, or the company name or the email address + “scam”. For instance I might goggle "Steve Nash forum" or "Steve Nash scam". Normally if there’s something fishy it will come up.

3. Use the FTC site (see our guide for details).

4. If you decide to go to the website in the e-mail, look for contact numbers or contact names on the site. I also look for live links. In other words, if something looks like a link but when I click on it but nothing happens, I deem it a scam and move on.

5. There should also be a contact number to call and ask questions. If there are no numbers and no email addresses to contact the company, move on.

6. Finally, be especially cautious if there’s a fee to get started. A couple of days ago, I was investigating a company that required you buy a crafting kit to get started. You build the crafts and send them back for payment. Beautiful items! There was a phone number and contact information on site. I called and they are even registered with the BBB. In fact, they are a legitimate work-from-home company. The final step was to check and see what the forums and blogs are saying about this company. (While everything checks out, the amount of time to build the crafts can be lengthy, which may not be a good use of your time.) But the point is to investigate before parting with your hard-earned cash.

In summary, err on the side of assuming it’s not legitimate. Do your research and check what others are saying about the opportunity.

What are some ways you can tell if something is a scam email or website?

Susan Ireland said...

Hi Garla,
When I'm suspicious of an email that contains a link, I never click on the link. If I really want to see where the link is pointing, I copy and paste the link into my browser.

But, as you say, better safe than sorry. I often just delete the work-from-home emails, especially since I already work from home. :)

Garla Smith said...

Dear Mom Jobs Seekers,

Did you know that sales reps can make more money in less time than many traditional jobs? This is why it is an ideal mom job. The challenge is that most moms are resistant to working these jobs because they are afraid of the rejection. Amazingly we are always dealing with rejection and being told “no” by our children, our husbands and friends. “No” doesn’t deter us when we are dealing with them..why should it dishearten us when we deal with a stranger. What if we accept rejection as a part of the landscape, recognized that we won’t die from it and in some instances it make us stronger. If we make this leap in thinking, we now are able to have flexibility with our work, make good wages for our time and learn some real negotiating skills that will last a lifetime.

Small businesses make up over 60% of all the job creations in the US. Many of these businesses need Sales Support. As of Thursday, 3/31 there was almost 17, 000 part time sales jobs in the US listed on Career Builder. Probably all of them are not legitimate but you get the idea.

Sales is not for the weak but I believe it is a skill can be learned much like any other such as singing, being organized or even driving. The key is to find a product, service or company that you are passionate about. Many community colleges are now offering Sales Training to those that don’t know how to sell or have never sold before. In many cases these classes are free to the unemployed. You can’t expect to do well at sales without some training and the willingness to feel uncomfortable for a period while you learn the skills. But the reward is great! You can do sales for youself with a home based or direct sales business. You can support a small business with their sales efforts and work at helping build their client base. You can join a large company and be a part of their part-time sales force. Either way you go, you can work commission only or find a job with a salary and bonus potential.

For those that have found mom jobs in sales, please share what kinds of sales jobs you doing, pay ranges and time investments. We also want to hear about the type of sales training you invested in to make yourself successful. I look forward to hearing your inputs and learning from you.

Ramblings said...

I have a general comment about some books I found helpful. They all relate to moms/jobs/family.

"The Price of Motherhood - Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued" by Ann Crittenden (talks a lot about middle aged women who have been home makers all their lives and then the're left high and dry by their husbands - has a lot of good info about working, saving, etc).

"The Mask of Motherhood - How Becoming a Mother Changes our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It" by Susan Maushart. (great, great book. Not a quick read, and puts parenting in a bit of a negative -albeit realistic - light. Talks about roles, parenthood in a sociological context, etc. Very validating.)

"Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Your Groove Back" by Vicki Iovine. (Anything written by this woman is guaranteed to be hilarious).

Anonymous said...

I was excited to see this blog topic as I am desparate to find a mom job. Unfortunately, I don't see any tips or advice on how to do this on any of the blogs or on the smartmom website. For example, what are some family friendely companies in San Diego, how can I discuss a reduced schedule with a demanding boss, how can a change careers to a more family friendly "mom job"... how is it done, any ideas?
BTW- I selected "All" jobs in California on the smartmom webiste and recieved a message that my search was too narrow. That sums it up I guess.

Garla Smith said...

Dear Well-Read Mom,

Thanks so much for sharing those books that are relevant to moms returning to the workforce. I have my favorites as well.

Going Back To Work - A Survival Guide For Comeback Moms

Opting Out? (Why women Really Quit Careers and Head Home) Pamela Stone

This Is How We Do It (A Practical Gude for the Working Mother) Carol Evans.

I will take some time and review some of your suggested reads. Thanks so much for sharing.

Garla Smith said...

Dear California Mom Job Seeker,

Let's see if we can help you get started.

1. You are correct that there are no jobs on the Smart Moms site YET for CA. However, I added it in hopes that Employers will recognize that their are qualified and professional moms in CA and on our list that can meet their needs.

2. Here are some places to start looking:

a) Visit our "More listings" page powered by and scroll down to the bottom of each block (search section). Use the keywords "Telecommuting in California" or "Part-time jobs in California" to help narrow the search in your area. pulls from Career Builder and other job boards. The jobs on its site are no more than 7 days old.

b) 1. Try Working Mothers - Best Company List.

c)See if your state has apprenticeship programs..they may be provided by Employment Security Commission in your area.

d) Craig's List - just be careful what information you provide and where you meet someone.

e) Government Agencies that provide community education programs or services are also great places to check.

f)Your surround community colleges may have job boards that have a variety of part-time and telecommuting positions. They are supporting their students that are seeking part-time or flexible work in order to purse a degree. You can tap into that resource.

g) Look at your non-profits in your area. The pay many times may not be fabulous but the skills you will acquire and the environment of learning and training support is usually present.

When reading actual job ads, look for areas where jobs may take place ..if it does not say where the work takes place - it might be virtual or have a virtual component.

If the job uses the word Telecommuting investigate further.

Many part-time jobs can be mom friendly but you MUST understand the expectations before you decided to accept the job offer.

If you are already in a job, determine what you need to make it more flexible for you. Keep in mind that employers need committed workers so it can't be one-sided on your part. How are you going to give him/her the support they need but on a reduced schedule? Once you figure that out, make a pitch.

Networking is also a great way to find a mom job. Within your circle of friends do you know 5-6 people that will keep their ears and eyes open about what you are looking for and will make introductions? Over 50% of all jobs are acquired through networking.

I hope this helps. Thanks for being transparent that is how progress is made.

Calling all CA Moms who are working and found Mom friendly jobs!! How did you find it? What were your qualifying questions?


Garla Smith said...

Dear Smart Phone Moms Users,

I have been in the market for a smart phone to do faster job research along with managing my mom responsibilities (grocery list, tracking calories, todo lists, etc).

I also review LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter for possible mom jobs as well as browse the internet to access job boards, online newspapers, etc on a daily basis.

I have been trying the Samsung Galaxy but not extremely happy. I am considering the IPhone but want to hear from moms on how is it meeting their needs of and their search for jobs?

Anonymous said...

Garla--thank you so much for the information, i found it very inspiring and helpful. I've found that even an hour or 2 here or there can make a big difference, though it does use up vacation time and sometimes goes unpaid, it is required, for me, to be a good parent and not feel stressed. I am not satisfied with my career, unfortunatley, so this makes another set of challenges for me. I will look into the community college job boards, apprenticeship programs, and other ideas I have to move toward a fulfilling mom friendly job. I have a B.S. in biology that is not being put to use and I am interested in working with children so I may look into teaching science.

Garla Smith said...

Dear Biology Mom,

Kudos to you for recognizing what it takes to help you be a great parent. Even more kudos for acting on that information!

Teaching is a great field and those that are teachers are in great demand. According to, North Carolina is projected to need 10,000 new teachers each year to keep up with the demands in population. Our state seems to be a great relocation spot for families but there are many other states where teachers are in demand.

Like any other job, understanding the requirements to teach is important. A simple google search “teacher requirements North Dakota” or whatever your state should yield good results. Most community colleges will offer a teachers certification or recertification program. Take a moment and reach out to someone in that department to learn more. Also talk to your own network of friends and school contacts where your children attend. You are trying to get an understanding of the career paths to teaching in the school system and the required credentials. Once you get a clear understanding of the path, the action is all up to you.

While teacher don’t get paid a lot, they definitely have the flexibility with their schedules (summers off or tracked out during the times their children are out). In addition, the top work value of many moms, SAHMs and WAHMs seems to be tied to “achievement”. This means that they need to feel like they are accomplishing something meaningful in their work. Teaching definitely gives you this sense of achievement.

Do you know what are your top work values?

Anonymous said...

I look at these telemarketing/sales jobs and admit that they are really unattractive to me. It's not simply a fear of rejection. It's that I absolutely HATE receiving sales calls at home. I will tell anyone who calls my home, off the bat, that they need to take me off their calling list. I do so politely, but I'm sure there are many people out there who aren't as kind about it. So for me it's a matter of not wanting to do something to others I wouldn't want done to me. I think if I were calling with, say, a survey that paid them in some way or offered them a free product to try, it would be far easier. Maybe others feel this way?

Ramblings said...

I agree, although some people might be fine with making calls. I heard a story about an at home mom who had a 900 number. I wouldn't do that either, but hey, it worked for her. I guess she made a lot of money, talking away while tending her children. What a way to multitask!

Garla Smith said...

All good points! Would you consider it if were B2B (Business to Business)calls? As a business owner myself, I expect to get sales calls occassionally. If I have the time, I entertain the caller for a moment because it may be something that helps my business grow or be more efficient. Mompreneurs how do you feel about getting sales calls from other businesses?