Figuring Out Your Needs

by Elizabeth Wilcox

Not sure if the arrangement you’re considering is right for you and your children? Don’t base your judgment on what the latest study says on how much a mother should work. Look within. Here are four tips to help you figure out if a job or arrangement is family-friendly to you.

  1. Support your parent-child relationship
    Experts say what’s most important for you and your child is the ability to connect. So ask yourself, how attuned are you to your child’s emotions and how engaged does your child seem when relating to you? Do you trust your child? Does your child trust you? If your work precludes you from connecting to your child, it’s not family-friendly to you. Ask yourself too what engagements you feel you must attend with your child. What time do you want or need to spend with your child? What kind of parent do you want to be? What will it take for you to build or maintain a strong, nurturing relationship with your child?
  2. Know your financial needs
    Family-friendly is a relative term. One mother may need to earn her maximum earning potential and benefits. Another may not. Don’t feel guilty if you need to work full-time with benefits to meet your financial needs; some families estimate that employer benefits can value some 20 %- 25% of salary, crucial assistance to some moms. But don’t overestimate either. Take a hard look at your expenses. Draw up an annual expenditure sheet. Ask yourself how much you need to make. Quality time with your child may go a lot further than the latest toy. Can you cut back on your earnings and still meet your most important financial needs? Answer that before considering whether you can make a move – whether it be reduced hours, a new position, or a new employer – that may result in a drop in pay.
  3. Think about your professional and personal needs
    Being disengaged or detached can adversely impact your ability to connect with your child. Don’t undervalue your desire for personal and/or professional fulfillment. Think hard about what you most need or want out of work, be it a sense of accomplishment, power, recognition, responsibility, self-expression, or security. If you can’t meet those needs professionally, are there other areas of your life that can fulfill those needs? Think too about what certifications, qualifications, or responsibilities you need to attain your professional objectives? Can you extend your timeline while raising your children? Can you temporarily suspend or forego some of those criteria and still be fulfilled?
  4. Be creative
    Once you feel that you know your needs and your family’s needs, think creatively about how you can meet those needs while still meeting the needs of your employer. Don’t limit yourself by saying you have to work a certain schedule or number of hours. Consider the interests of your employer as well. Make certain that the arrangement you propose addresses the employer’s most important needs as well as your own.