As you may know, I had my second child in early 2021. After that experience, I felt the need to share my thoughts on what it means to be a woman, a pregnant woman, and a mother in our profession. Because we all know this field has been historically guided by older white males… so what is it like being the opposite of that?
If you’re a woman reading this and you’ve ever wondered about what it’s like to get pregnant, become a mom, and work in this profession, I want to share some thoughts on how you can start a family while still maintaining your career.
And if you’re a guy, a partner to a woman, or someone who never plans to get pregnant, I think it might help you to read this, in case you ever come across a pregnant professional or working mom in your career. (You will.)
Tips for Being a Successful Working Parent
Since I’ve started working as a CFP®, I’ve learned a lot. Since I’ve become a mother while owning my own firm, I’ve learned even more.
I’ve learned about how to structure my days around my family. I’ve learned how to build a business that reflects my priorities (there is even a nursery in my practice). And I have also learned without a shadow of a doubt that women and mothers offer all-new insights and approaches to clients’ financial planning needs.
Here are the lessons I’ve learned from my first maternity leave, and from the last couple of years as a working mom:
1. Be creative with your time, energy, and other resources
This is why I brought a nursery into my practice — because, with my husband working with me, I knew it would be the most convenient place for all of us. Your plan may look different, but the key is to figure out what will work best for you and your family.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. With the recent shift toward remote work, you may have the flexibility to work from home a few days a week or even full time.
2. Embrace maternity leave and have a flexible return date
I originally planned to take time off, and I had set up my practice to run without me in the interim. I had multiple plans in the event that something changed with my ability to return to work, and I made sure that my clients were taken care of. But I didn’t have a solid return date. I let myself organically shift back into that space, and I didn’t put pressure on myself because I did have those multiple contingencies.
I know that this can be complicated for some, especially if you have to find daycare, recover from a complicated birth, etc. The biggest advice I have is to be realistic with your timelines, and to give yourself time to ease back into it if possible.
3. Give your clients the benefit of the doubt
The first time I got pregnant, I dreaded telling clients. I thought some would be frustrated, and maybe even leave. None of that happened, and they were very supportive. If you’re worried about your firm or clients reacting poorly, the best advice I can give is… Assume the best. People may surprise you.
4. Don’t forget the big picture
You can plan all you want, but that baby will have plans of its own. You can also plan for contingencies that may never happen, or worry about things that are no longer a concern as soon as you see the baby. The second I saw my daughter Alice, my worries started melting away. I knew we’d figure it out. (Even though I had spent literally months trying to plan for every detail and worrying about it.)
Of course, these tips are based on my experience. None of this is a hard-and-fast rule about how to start your family. I simply want to share my experience, in the hopes that it helps you find out how to creatively approach your own needs.
I should also note that it took me 10+ years to get to this point; it’s not like I knew how to do this when I first started, and I didn’t really know what to do until I had a baby in my arms!
How Do You Balance Your Family and Your Career?
I know that my story is my story, but sometimes it helps to just know that someone has successfully navigated this profession with a baby in tow. If you’re thinking about starting a family, or already have and feel like nobody really “gets it,” I’d love to hear from you. Share your story, questions, or advice in the comments below.
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