Posted on November 14, 2014 · Posted in Your Relationship with Food

spring tulips_MetabolicResetThe Single Mother’s Challenge for Balancing Family and Career
By Joyce Lillis

In 1985 I was offered a sales position by Compaq Computer as a sales representative covering the state of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. I was a single parent raising two children on my own. I thought long and hard if this was the right career move, not only for me but for my family, and ultimately decided to accept the position based on two reasons:

  • Home Office
  • Flexibility

I knew I would be driving 800 to 1000 miles per week but I often scheduled meetings leaving after the kids left for school. On the days I had to leave early I made arrangements to drop my daughter off at a friend’s house so she would be taken to school and my son walked to the school bus. Some days I was home by 3:00 PM when the kids arrived home to hear about their day, talk about dinner plans, or take them to a piano or guitar lesson returning to finish work later in the evening.

School conferences and dental appointments were scheduled on my office days. Discipline and time management were critical to my success. I found I accomplished more by working from home because I was totally focused on the action list I would write each evening without many interruptions if working in an office.

I scheduled my daughter’s basketball games so I would not miss one. Once I flew to Dallas, conducted a meeting and flew back the same day so I would get to the gym before the playoff game started.

The three areas of focus were my kids that included their health and progress in school as well as scheduling fun times with them on weekends, my career which meant making sure I exceeded quota and was considered for promotions, maintaining a single family house hiring help when needed to take care of maintenance.

Was there guilt; always As mothers it is easy to feel guilt, especially if you are a single parent. Guilt about not making the marriage work, guilt that the kids come from a broken home, guilt if you have to travel for work and miss an important homework assignment or a school concert.

One of my daughter’s school concerts I missed was when I had to be in Houston for a business meeting. My mother and son filled in; however, I never forgot that I missed her performance. I asked my son to buy her a rose and present it to her to help relieve my guilt. How did I learn to relieve some of the guilt.

  • Planned special events on weekends
  • Broadway Shows, bowling, movies
  • Shared my feelings of love and affection
  • Vacations with lots of laughter and fun

However, where did that leave me. What was I doing for me? Not much. I would be asked how I was handling it all. My answer: “I’m fine, just in constant motion.” I wasn’t paying attention to my health and felt stressed often. I was gaining weight only to diet and then regain the weight. I wasn’t enjoying time with friends, going to a movie, just having fun. Once I realized I had to include myself onto the priority list, I developed a program that was solely focused on me.

  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating plan
  • One night out per week

At first I felt selfish. But over time, I began to understand the more I took care of myself the better I was as a mother and employee. As I released stress through my personal program, I noticed the children were less stressed. I was able to be present with them not concerned about what I needed to do next. I promoted to manager, then Director and eventually Vice President.
As I promoted to a Regional Vice President managing over 400 people in the East Region with a quota in excess of $2.7 billion, it became apparent that being in an office was mandatory. By that time, the kids were in college. But during the challenging years of raising two children as a single parent, I learned many lessons but the one dearest to me is to give them love regardless of the circumstances.
They are both grown now with families of their own and I see my daughter struggling with the demands of her job while raising a daughter. In today’s world technology pressure has increased even more; you can work anytime, anywhere, any place.
For all the single mom’s that are in the workforce, remember to prioritize some time just for yourself. You will be more effective in every aspect of your life.