How to build confidence as a working mom

Last weekend my family went to San Antonio. My husband had to go for work, so we all decided to pile in the car and tag along.

The trip itself could be several blog posts, covering everything from how to survive in a theme park by yourself with 3 kids {what was I thinking?} to what to pack for a road trip.

But one thing that stood out to me during this whirlwind vacation was how much I’ve changed over the last few years.

When I first became a mom, I was terrified to nurse in public. I was one of the lucky ones who never struggled with breastfeeding. Yet, whenever I left the house I would typically excuse myself to go somewhere private to nurse. Because of my insecurity, I fed my baby anywhere from a parked car to a public restroom and many places in between.

By the time number two came along, my confidence improved. While I still preferred privacy, if I absolutely had to I would get out a cover and work through it with a wiggling baby.

Fast forward to baby number three, and I’m nursing on the park bench at Sea World San Antonio without thinking twice.

So what’s changed? Well for one thing, I’ve learned how to build confidence as a working mom.

I have also decided not to let what other people think affect my choices.

We were on the go all weekend, and while I still prefer to be modest, and use a cover {when she’ll let me} I feed her wherever and whenever it’s time. I no longer let the potential discomfort of onlookers get in the way of me feeding my child.

The truth is, most of them could probably care less what I’m doing or how I’m doing it anyway. I have no doubt that much of my insecurity was just that – mine!

Sure, there’s always going to be a critic, but I’ve grown to realize they are the exception and not the rule. And I’m definitely not going to let these guys get in the way of me feeding my baby… or anything else for that matter.

As a blogger, many of the same insecurities pop up. Will anyone care what I have to say? What will people think? Will they disapprove? Or will I be accepted?

These are the mental roadblocks we will all encounter at some point in our lives. It’s up to us to decide if we will drive through them, or turn back.

Would you make the same choices if no one else was around to judge you?

In other words, how much are you allowing what other people think about you impact your life as a working mom?

Now, I’m not saying that our choices don’t affect other people. In fact, I actually think it is important to consider other people in our decision making. But when it comes down to it, no one knows what’s best for you than YOU!

Maybe you’re considering heading back to work after staying home with your kiddos, and you’re worried you’ll get criticized for putting them in childcare.

Perhaps you have a fabulous new job opportunity, but you feel nervous to tell your current boss whom you love.

Whatever the situation, here’s how you to get what you want and build confidence as a working mom.

Stop trying to please others.

You really want to start working from home to ditch the long commute, but you can’t stop thinking about what your co-workers will think about the arrangement. It’s human nature to care what others think about us, but it also holds us back, which isn’t great for our happiness. {Or in my case, the happiness of my hungry baby!} It’s likely that you’re overestimating how much they’ll actually care in the first place. But if they really are upset, you can address their concerns by clarifying the details around your new flex position or encouraging them to request the same. In the end, however, we have to let go of the expectation that we can make everyone happy.

Take control of your life.

It’s time to get into the driver seat, mama. Just as much as you cannot control what other people think, you cannot expect great things to happen in your life if you aren’t willing to go after them. Do you think you deserve a raise, but aren’t sure if your company will go for it? You need to do your research, build your argument and get your tush into your boss’s office ASAP. Start by identifying what it is you want and the first step towards making it a reality. You’ll improve your confidence by being assertive and following through. Plus, that confidence and prepared argument may be just the thing that gets your boss to say yes!

Celebrate your accomplishments with others.

Women in particular tend to have a difficult time celebrating our wins. No one wants to be labeled a bragger… Well, toot toot! While not everyone will be happy for you, you cannot reach big goals without celebrating small wins. By celebrating your accomplishments with a support system that wants you to succeed, you gain momentum and positive energy to tackle whatever’s next for you. Be sure to return the favor to your friends who are killin’ it, and watch your confidence soar!

“We’re on a mission to redefine what success, career and achievement mean for women”

A few months ago I was casually perusing Facebook and came across a link to a new startup company for women called Werk. The first thing I read on their website nearly knocked my socks off:

Work is not working for women. Exhaustion is not a status symbol. We can’t do it all or have it all in an environment that isn’t designed for our success. We founded this company because women want ambitious careers without compromising their outside obligations. We founded this company because businesses want access to the best, most motivated talent without spending a fortune. We can turn work into Werk. Join the movement.

I immediate hopped over to gmail and emailed the co-founders, Anna Auerbach and Annie Dean. I was their new No. 1 fan and I wanted them to know it. I’ve felt passionate about being a working mom ever since my daughter was born, but have always known something about the daily hustle we endure just isn’t right. It isn’t working.

Today’s Working Mom Wednesday is possibly my favorite to date, because I so admire Anna and Annie for recognizing the need for change in the workplace and doing something about it to empower working women. I am thrilled our paths crossed and encourage you to learn more about what these amazing working moms are doing!


Self-promo time. What is Werk?

Anna: We believe there’s more to work than the number of hours you spend hunched over a computer at the office, and we’re on a mission to redefine what success, career and achievement mean for women. Werk is a marketplace of flexible job opportunities. We feature flexible, senior level positions created in partnership with the best companies in the country and offer them exclusively to our community of 2000+ exceptionally talented women. We help companies better engage and retain a massively underutilized talent sector, and ultimately, we help more women rise to leadership.

You both had careers that ultimately led you to creating this business. What’s your background?

Annie: I spent six years in big law where I did billions of dollars in deal volume representing institutional lenders in transactions secured by real estate. Law was never the perfect fit for me because I wasn’t able to be creative or imaginative or solve big-picture problems that inspire me. But my legal background gave me the skill set to dive deeply into a problem. I find it so satisfying to understand all the sides of an argument and piece it together into the best possible solution.

Anna: My career has been driven by solving problems and making a difference. I worked at McKinsey & Co after undergrad – I loved the problem solving, but wanted a greater focus on social impact. After attending Harvard Business School, I solidified my love of business thinking in the context of social impact. I worked at The Bridgespan Group leading projects for major nonprofits and philanthropists, and then was the COO of a boutique philanthropy firm before launching this company with Annie.

What’s the biggest challenge working moms face?

Annie: Mindset. We need companies to rethink value, and how to create value. The workplace we know today was designed in the 1950’s when one parent was at home with the children. That isn’t the case any more. Not only do many women want full-time careers, but the economy necessitates dual-income households. There are so many other ways to create and demonstrate value than the number of hours that we sit at a desk. As working moms, we know that. But we need our companies and our leaders to learn that.

Tell me about an obstacle you had to overcome to launch Werk?

Annie: Founding and launching a startup is a huge leap of faith. We both left big jobs to start Werk, in favor of an uncertain future. That’s unsettling at any stage, but particularly when you’re mothering small children. It’s scary sometimes, but I think about advice from my husband who’s a competitive long-distance runner. He taught me to keep my eyes on the road. “Don’t look up, because the distance to the finish line is discouraging. Just look a few feet in front of you and keep moving forward.” You have to believe you’re on the right road, in the right race, and you have to have the discipline and the drive to keep running.

What is a typical day like for you?

Anna: There is no typical day! The only thing we can be sure of is that it will be messy, and involve coffee, diapers, and e-mail.

Annie: You know, we started this company 100% virtually. Anna was out West and I was in New York. We believe so deeply in the concept of redefining the rules work, we used it to build the foundation of our company. In fact, this summer is the first time we’re in the same place together. Six months ago, we barely knew each other and rarely connected in person. Today, we’re living with all our kids under one roof in a rented beach house that’s one part bad-ass business accelerator, one part insane summer daycare. Nothing is typical. No day is without a surprise or sidetrack, but we love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Werk empower working women

How have your professional goals changed since starting families of your own?

Anna: We have always been ambitious and driven. Having families didn’t change the size of our goals, but becoming mothers taught us how to be our most mature, most effective selves. Motherhood puts your professional goals in closer reach and will inspire you like nothing else, if you let it.

What’s your best advice for working moms?

Annie: Be gentle on yourself. Be ruthless about what matters. And have faith. This generation of women has so much to give. It is brimming with energy and talent. We will leave this world better than we started.

Finish this sentence. We definitely couldn’t survive each day without…

Each other.

They say it takes a village. Who helps you with your kiddos?

Annie: Loving nannies, babysitters, grandmothers, godparents, teachers and friends. It’s a lot to be thankful for…and to coordinate!

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

Annie: For us, having it all means possessing the freedom to follow our dreams without abandoning our deep desire to be core members of our communities. We won’t have it all until we can live our lives as our whole selves, with enough space to work hard and love with commitment. We’re not there yet, but Werk gets us closer.


Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

Turning Thirty

turning 30

I spent the first summer after my freshman year at the University of San Diego in my college town instead of heading home for the break. My best friend from high school was supposed to come too, but got mono and had to head home earlier than expected. I spent several weeks alone before my college friends came back for the fall semester.

Most of the time I was fine. I hit my apartment’s gym and pool up whenever I wasn’t working. But one day I decided I needed to live off of more than cereal and mac & cheese, so I headed to a restaurant inside a big outdoor mall nearby.

“Just you?” the hostess asked.

I was mortified.

Everyone in the restaurant was surely staring as she walked me to a table on the patio where I would pathetically sit by myself. I lasted about 45 seconds before I got out my cell phone and called my mom and begged her to talk to me while waited for my food.

After I ate and paid, I rushed out without making eye contact with anyone and vowed that I was never going to eat at a restaurant by myself again.

Flash forward a decade.

Last week a photographer came over to shoot pictures of our house for its listing. She prefers that the client not be home so that she can do her thing, so I gathered my work and scooted out the door. I really only had one errand to run and it was after 11 a.m. so I decided to head to a nearby sushi restaurant.

When I got there the place was pretty empty, so the hostess offered me a table near the window in the front. Pretty soon a couple came in, followed by a father and son, and what appeared to be several business meetings.

I kept to myself while I ate. {Confession: I did have my laptop with me since it was one of my no-kids work days.}

Do you know what I was thinking about in between bites of my Philly roll? Wow, it feels amazing to be eating out by myself!

Was it the fact that I eat most of my meals either standing up or with our 2 year old trying to crawl into my lap from across the table that had changed my outlook on dining solo?

It’s possible, but I think it has more to do with the way the experiences I’ve had in my twenties have helped me grow into the person I am today.

I traveled. In my early twenties, I spent a semester in Europe. I went out weeks before my study abroad program began to travel around with a friend and even by myself for a week. I experienced unforgettable places and was pushed outside of my comfort zone countless times, yet the thing I remember most from the trip is the lesson that came from the airline loosing all of my belongings on the way overseas: things are just that – things. Stuff is replaceable.

I graduated. I also got my first “adult” job with Teach for America. After moving across the country, I entered their training program where I quickly learned that I wasn’t going to be a good fit. I quit my first job before it had even started. I felt like a complete failure and incredibly selfish for putting my own needs over those of my potential students. It took several months {okay, years} for me to really get over it, but now I look back without any regret and am proud of myself for following my instincts.

I partied. I drank for fun {sometimes to the point of it not being fun anymore} and stayed up late with friends. I attended social events in Las Vegas, went to costume parties on the beach, and sipped cocktails on Manhattan rooftops. Most impressively, I would even wake up the next morning and function like a fairly normal human being.

I moved. San Diego, New York {where I met my husband}, Phoenix and Kansas City {where we got married}. We tested the strength of our relationship with each move {something I highly recommend doing with a loved one before you put a ring on it}. It was stressful, but so is real life. Once landing in KC we bought our first house. I learned that owning a home is demanding and expensive, but all of that maintenance and afternoons mowing the lawn sure make you take pride in the place.

I became a mom. In my mid-twenties, my husband and I had our first child. Two years later we welcomed one more and then lost another. Morning sickness isn’t something I would wish upon my worst enemy, but it’s amazing to see what a body can go through in order to create another life. Fortunately, after many months of vomiting, I was one of the lucky ones who was able to lose weight fairly easily and nurse without any many complications {we all have our tradeoffs, right?}. I remember being moved to tears when I would look down at each of my babies because I was so full of love and gratitude…and hormones. Motherhood is a journey that every mom will experience in her own way, and our decisions are personal and guided by love.

I met new people. A handful have become dear friends. Some of them moved away and now I will be moving away from many myself. I attended countless weddings and was honored to be in a few {I give one heck of a toast}. I walked away from friendships that weren’t good for me. I’ve lost friends who were taken way too soon, and realized that while funerals certainly aren’t something I look forward to they can bring people together in strange, incredible ways.

I became an adult. I dropped many of the Mr. and Mrs.’s from my childhood {with permission, of course}. I began seeing former teachers as peers and even friends. I decided that I really like my parents as more than just my mom and dad, but as people. I stopped being intimidated in the workplace by those who were older and seemingly more experienced and realized my own potential and worth.

I adjusted my priorities. By my late twenties, I realized that my new version of “going out” was walking over to my neighbors house with a glass of wine while our kids played in the driveway. I still go to parties {at my daughter’s school}, but I’m always in bed by nine. I can no longer wake up the next morning and function if I consume alcohol, which is a bummer since our two children won’t sleep past 7 a.m.

I became older than all of the contestants on The Bachelor {not sure when that happened}.

I got involved. I networked more often, launched a women’s organization and joined various boards. I voted in elections and gave back to my community. I learned that it’s okay to say “no” sometimes, too.

I worked hard. I changed jobs, got a promotion and a few raises. I watched my husband leave his comfy 9-5 to work for himself, and eventually took the risk to leave the workplace to start my own business, too. I also got up the courage to write about it all here.

And somewhere between twenty and thirty, without me even realizing it, I grew comfortable in my own skin. So much so that I am able to eat by myself in a restaurant.

5 ways to actually achieve your goals this year

tips for accomplishing your goals

Monday is February 1st, which marks one month since you blissfully resolved to make this the best year yet. How are you doing on your resolutions or goals thus far?

I recently read that by Super Bowl weekend only 20% of goal-setters are still on track. And by Christmas? Only 5% will waive a victory flag.

But I’m here to tell you that I believe you’re a five percenter. The thing about goals is, if you do them right they can be an amazingly powerful tool to inspire and guide you! Plus, you’re in control of your own success {or failure}. We’ve already 1/12th of the way there, so let’s not waste anymore time.

1. Set smarter goals

We’ve all heard of SMART goals, but thanks to a fashion blog I follow I’m not making my goals SMARTER. If you know me personally, you know I’m probably not following it for the style tips {I live in yoga pants} but for their incredible business savvy. They put the “er” in “smarter” and I think it adds an extra dose of motivation. Who doesn’t want to be excited by their goals and rewarded for reaching them?!

Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely, Exciting, Rewarded

Example: By December 31, 2016 (T), we will have 100 (M, R) new business members (S) join Femfessionals Kansas City (A). This goal excites me, because I’m passionate about growing a community of working women (E). When I achieve this goal, I’m going to throw a free event for all of our members (R)!

2. Look at it

A goal you can see is massively more powerful than a goal you keep hidden like a secret. Are you the creative type? Try making a vision board using magazine clippings. Now that you can literally see your goals, it’s time to tell someone else about them. Making yourself accountable to your friends and family is one of the best ways to stay on track.

3. Break it up

Many people abandon goals because they’re just too dang big. If you’ve done this to yourself, stop now. Change your game plan.
Select mini-milestones that all work toward your main goal. Let’s say your goal is to gain 100 new clients this year. That sounds a bit intimidating, doesn’t it? But if you break it into a monthly goal of 8-10 clients per month or about 2 a week, it becomes a more manageable goal. Split your big goals into bite size chunks and conquer it one sweet victory at a time.

4. Commit to yourself

There’s only one person in this goal-setting process that matters. You. Commit to yourself now and be prepared to recommit over and over again. The thing about achieving goals is that it’s a bit like riding a horse. You’re bound to get thrown off a few times. Commit to yourself so that you’ll climb right back on that saddle.

5. Start now

You know the saying, “Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.” They weren’t talking about folding your laundry {but don’t procrastinate there either or your clothes will be all wrinkled}. When it comes to going after what you want, you have to start now. So if you haven’t figured out what you want to accomplish this year, this month or this week, it’s time to go for it.

Big growth is just around the corner. What is your number one goal for this year?