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WORKING MOM Epiphanies and Breakdowns

By Jackie Burrell
Friday, October 3rd, 2008 at 2:21 pm in Other.

Working moms (Illus. by Val Mina/MCT)There’s something immensely reassuring about being in a room with 500 other people who totally get it – the insane hours, sleep deprivation and endless work-family juggling. So last night, I swung by San Francisco’s Hotel InterContinental, where hundreds of women – toting chic cupcakes, box suppers and cool gift bags – had converged on the latest Mommy Track’d event, “Working Motherhood: New Formulas for Success.” We watched an hour of the Joe Biden-Sarah Palin debate, then listened as New York Times columnist Lisa Belkin and a panel of high powered Bay Area working moms talked about the reality of blending work and personal lives. Leading an effortlessly balanced life may not be possible, the panel said, but there are some things you can do to retain your sanity. Here’s a round up of their tips:

1. “Have the courage to realize when enough is enough,” says GAP VP and deputy general counsel Wilma Wallace, who left a private law firm when she saw what the hours did to family life.

2. Take the school calendar and plot out the year. You don’t have to be there for everything, but be there for the important stuff. “Field trips? Take the day off. That’s how I engage,” says Wallace. “Sometimes making the cookies is important to me.”

3. “Cookies? Buy them at Safeway,” says NBC-11 weekend anchor Diane Dwyer. “Really. It’s OK.”

4. Don’t underestimate your equity at work. Ask for what you need. Flextime and working from home are “all about what you deliver,” not about hours, says Hewlett Packard VP Valerie Taglio.

5. Blackberries and e-mail can be incredibly liberating. They allow you to work from home, go to school events or on vacation, and still get work done. But you have to be disciplined about it, says Baby Center CEO Tina Sharkey. When it’s time for family, put the Blackberry down.

6. Replace that critical voice in your head, says Belkin, the one that provides a steady fault-finding patter with, “Look what I did today. What I accomplished is damn amazing.”

How are you coping with your complicated life? Click “comments” and share.

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