Moms and the Sidelines: If you leave the Workforce, Don’t Abandon Your Career

by gurumommy on October 18, 2011

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This great article written by fellow mom, Samantha Ettus, a branding expert, author & contributor to Forbes.com really makes you sit back and think about work, being a mom and how to balance it all.  Samantha writes about her experience on the soccer field with her young daughter:

Last week I sat on the sidelines as my daughter played soccer and found myself surrounded by a number of vibrant moms. Ironically, the conversation turned to being on the sidelines – in the workforce.The moms included a former attorney, a former magazine editor and a marketing executive. They had each taken between five and seven years off to raise kids. All of them expressed a desire to get back into the workforce. Each of them felt powerless to do so.

Their reasons were plentiful and sadly, valid. The marketing executive talked of having let her contacts run cold. The magazine editor lamented that when she last worked, the Internet was not part of her job. She likened herself to a dinosaur. The attorney explained that she hadn’t kept up and her specific field had changed considerably since she left.

I am usually optimistic and I love helping women – especially with their careers. Yet this conversation left me oddly despondent and I found myself grappling to find the solutions they needed. It also got me thinking and obsessing about how important it is for women who take time off to keep a foot in the door.

In Leslie Bennetts’ book, The Feminine Mistake, she makes a compelling economic argument for why all women should work – explaining that more than half of all mothers will experience a divorce or a husband’s untimely illness, death or unemployment in their lifetimes. And that just as we focus on our children’s physical and emotional safety, we should work to protect them financially. A few years ago I interviewed Bennetts extensively for ModernMom and her important take is here.

After reading Bennetts’ book, experiencing the balancing act myself and having countless friends on both sides of the equation, I believe that no matter what path a professional woman chooses, she must keep working in some way. The alternative could be financially and emotionally devastating and the upside is endless. Whether it is four hours a week or full time, keep that foot in the door because you never know when you’ll need it to open.

Samantha Ettus is an entrepreneur, bestselling author and speaker on the topics of personal branding, social media and networking.  Join her on Twitter @samanthaettus or email her at Samantha@expertsmedia.com

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