My Personal Story of Balancing Work and Family
In This Blog Post
In this post, I focus on:
- What is the Third Option for Working Moms
- My Own Story of Accidentally Implementing the Third Option
- My Advice for Anyone Interested in the Third Option
- A free Planner for Your Own Third Option
This Is Rare
I usually love talking to you each week about all things productivity, mindset, goal-getting, and time-management. These are my jam.
But, today I thought I’d switch gears and get more personal.
I want to share my experience on leaving the fast track in corporate America for the Third Option.
What is the Third Option?
The Third Option is the label Shannon Miles gives to the no man’s land in between working moms who are full-time and being a “stay-at-home mom,” in her book The Third Option: Why a Woman Doesn’t Have to Choose between a Career and Family, but Can Actually Have Both and Succeed.
This idea of a mom having both a career and more time with her kids is an option that’s rarely discussed, and love that she’s named it!
I Always Thought I Would Be a Corporate Hard-Charger without Kids
As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a successful businesswoman.
I grew up on a multi-generational cattle ranch in rural Colorado. While my entire family had embraced ranching, I was dreaming about ways that I could move ASAP and build a life in the “big city.”
I was so excited to go to a huge college and focus on achieving my goals – summa cum laude and president of my sorority.
And, then I landed a big job in Boston after graduation. I put in my time on the grueling consulting circuit, and then moved to a software start-up with the goal of building a legacy.
I was set on the exact track I had planned out.
I had built a skyrocketing career, married a great husband, and went on exotic trips in our 3 weeks off a year.
I always thought kids and successful women were not compatible.
Then Something Changed
About 10 years into it, I hit a pinnacle and a decision point.
I had won a prestigious business award and the company I helped build from ground-up had reached a huge milestone. It should’ve been time to take the next leap in my career, to a bigger role in a bigger company.
But the fire was gone.
I realized I wasn’t fulfilled anymore. The grueling schedule and corporate politics were weighing me down.
No amount of work or amazing vacations was going to fill it up.
We Decided to Do Something We Said We’d Never Do
The thought of having a family started to creep in.
I had so many stereotypes and judgments filling my head. Somehow, I thought being a mom was the least ambitious thing I could do (please don’t send me hate mail, just keeping it real…)
Around that time, my husband and I made some new friends who were living a really awesome blend of work and home. They showed me a different way was possible. It wasn’t so black and white.
We decided to take the plunge and have a baby.
What I Thought It Would Be Like and What It Was
I thought we could hire a nanny and I could keep going as-is at work. I mean really, the baby was mostly sleeping. What was I missing? He couldn’t even talk.
I quickly realized it wasn’t worth it.
- Pumping in airports, in client bathrooms, and in my office while muted on conference calls,
- Spending just an hour with the baby on weeknights before bedtime, and living for the weekend when we could have a full routine, and
- The nanny experiencing all my son’s milestones without me.
My Shift to the Third Option
I would have kept going.
I am not a quitter. (That’s what I told myself).
But, my husband was offered a job opportunity in Hawaii that we couldn’t refuse.
I resigned from the company I helped build. And I thought it was the worst thing ever, being forced into early retirement.
But, something unexpected happened. My company asked me to continue working with them as a part-time consultant, working on several strategic projects.
I never thought to ask for this model. It’s the Third Option, where I could do both – work and be with toddler (by this point, he was almost 2).
That was 5 years ago and I’ve never looked back. That consulting job for my old company lasted a couple of years. Then, I started consulting for former colleagues on various projects for them. This consulting gig has kept me busy, with a few months gaps here and there, for the last 5 years.
I get to work part-time and I also be a mom at home with the kids, picking them up from school, volunteering at their PTA, and trying to strike that perfect balance (that doesn’t exist by the way, but is a great goal).
Let’s Be Honest Here
So this isn’t always roses. Here’s the low-down on the good, the bad, and the ugly of this Third Option.
The good is:
- Flexibility to make my own schedule, for the most part.
- I still make money!
- I don’t have a gap in my resume, in case I want to re-enter corporate America later on.
- I feel intellectually challenged.
The bad is:
- Sometimes my clients dictate the schedule, and Paw Patrol ends up babysitting the kids.
- The compensation is not as predicable.
The ugly is:
- I do juggle a lot and feel like I’m operating at half a mom, half an employee, and one-quarter of a wife.
- A friend described herself this way the other day, and I stole this from her. It describes the situation perfectly!
My Thoughts for Other Corporate Moms Considering the Third Option
If you’re considering the Third Option, here are some considerations:
- Work on what your best Third Option is:
- Is there a function at your current job that you could cover in a more dedicated way? Write your own, new job description.
- Or, maybe there’s a former colleague or client that you could reach out to, to discuss the option for part-time or consulting work. Get creative.
- Map out your finances.
- Don’t underestimate the work you’ll need to do to redefine your self identity. That was a huge miss for me, and took me several years to figure out.
Here’s a Free Planner to Help you Define Your Own Third Option
Check out this free workbook, which walks you through all the brainstorming and planning needed to begin your journey to the Third Option.
Ultimate Mom's Career Planner
Get started. Download the Ultimate Mom's Career Planner
Did You Know?
I’m a success coach for working moms. I work with other moms to create and execute the mindset, strategies and routines that are required get out of survival mode and achieve your goals, both personally and professionally.
Think of it as a re-set for ambitious moms who want to maximize what they do, who they are, and all they impact to make the most out of life.
The first step is to meet for half an hour to talk about your goals, obstacles and mini action plan. If you want to create your own mini action plan, here’s the link to schedule the free session on my calendar.
I’ll coach you through building the plan and identifying your next steps. Then, we’ll talk for a few minutes at the end about what I do and if we might be good working together. I’m not a salesperson so don’t expect a sales call. I only accept clients who are a good fit.
This is time focused on you and your goals, and how to get to the next level.