Elevate Difference

Happy at Work, Happy at Home: The Girl’s Guide to Being a Working Mom

Happy at Work, Happy at Home is a starter lifestyle guide for the professional who is new to motherhood. It’s a great book to begin the parenting-career balance, although many moms may seek more specific guides about topics contained within, such as how to work effectively from a home office, or how to choose a day care center or nursery school. The book has a broad base, touching on topics ranging from fertility treatments, to legal procedure regarding maternity leave and career-pregnancy conflict or how to manage a support system of babysitters and nannies. The ultimate goal of the collected advice, as indicated by the title, is to allow the woman to achieve professional success while not only running a home smoothly, but also enjoying time with her children and husband and having time for herself.

The book is made up of three types of sections, intertwined: numbered and bulleted lists of concrete advice, interviews with experts on various subjects, and a reassuring and supportive narrative written by the co-authors, themselves entrepreneurs and working mothers. Of these, the first type of section, the tip lists, are probably the most relevant for the time-pressed audience of the book. Lists include: Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts for the office (fyi: don’t shop online for strollers while you’re on the job, do take on extra projects that can be completed during office hours), Do’s and Don’ts of taking your child to work, and tip sheets on how to build rapport with your boss, how to determine if your company is baby-friendly, how to make a stay-at-home-dad situation work. If you’re forced to breeze through this book due to a busy schedule, my advice would be to focus on these lists.

The authors interview various experts and role models who offer their take on maximizing your time with your family, advancing your career while working more efficiently, and ensuring your comfort with your childcare system. The director of a Manhattan pre-school advises what to look for in a classroom, how to drop off your child off without a scene, and how to stay involved in the classroom even when your time is limited. A stay-at-home dad offers his take on trading professional advancement for more time raising his kids. A high-ranking corporate officer at Yahoo! reveals how she and her husband collaborate with weekly meetings to schedule time for their daughters and time for each other.

The backbone of the book is a supportive broaching of each topic by the co-authors, who display intelligence and empathy in their address to all women, whether they choose to continue their careers at full-speed, reduce their hours, or stay at home to raise children. The authors reassure working moms that their children will be safe and cared for, and that while the people they hire to care for their homes and children may not do everything exactly as mom would, everything will get done. The authors explore the common problem of moms feeling guilty for leaving their children, and the less common problem of moms using the office as a place to escape. This encouraging and uplifting narrative brings out the many positives of working motherhood, especially the ability to raise children who believe a woman can be a breadwinner and a man can be a caretaker, and children who are proud of their parents’ professional achievements.

Written by: Elizabeth F.A. Meaney, December 30th 2009

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