As a mom of a rambunctious 3½-year-old girl and super-active 6-year-old boy and working full-time as a partner in family law, I’m often told that I “do it all.” The seemingly praiseworthy concept, while flattering, in no way rids me of mother’s guilt that plagues many of us who work outside the home. At all hours of the day, thoughts of "What experience did I miss out on today?" will creep across my desk, like when my son tells me about a class celebration that I had to miss due to a client meeting or court. That being said, my children know that “mom works” to help finance a lifestyle where more things are possible than not, and I know they love me for that. So, how to strike a balance? Here are some things I have done to ensure that I’m as involved as I can be without risking my day job.
Take charge of the classroom. While this seems counterintuitive, being a room parent is not as labor intensive as one may think. I send class emails from my work email (many of which are just forwarded requests from other parents or school organizations) so I can be on top of events and needs at any point of the day. We created a classroom website on Shutterfly which makes it easy to communicate with the other parents. Not only has this kept me involved and aware, it’s allowed for me to get to know the other parents, which is key to staying connected.
Look for special one-time opportunities to come to class and commit the time to your calendar. My son’s kindergarten class had “mystery readers” every Friday. Knowing the one day I could come and surprise my son by reading to his classmates way in advance allowed for me to schedule court and meetings around that one hour.
Don’t overcommit. While I want to be a part of every parent organization and fundraising effort for my son’s school (a sign of my Type A personality), that’s entirely unrealistic. Just as you can’t donate to every philanthropic organization that comes your way, pick one volunteer organization with your kid’s school to get involved with, maybe during a time of year when you know your job may be slower. That way, you can feel connected but not worried that you aren’t getting your work completed.
Katy Mickelson, her husband, Kory, and their two children live in Roscoe Village, a community they love and are proud to be a part of. Katy is a partner in the divorce and family law group at Beermann Pritikin Mirabelli Swerdlove LLP, where she has been practicing law since 2005.