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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Which is harder to manage -- career or family?

A Mother's Day survey by Adecco asks, "Which is harder to manage career or family?"

Most working moms said managing career is a piece of cake next to managing family: 71% of working mothers find it more difficult to manage their family vs. career (29%).

If I was asked that question, I would have said managing family was more difficult, too. Here's why: Managing our careers takes focused energy. Managing our households takes focused energy. But when managing both at the same time, it's the family part of the equation that's more unpredictable -- a child gets sick, the teacher wants a conference, a science project requires some materials you don't have on hand.

This week, my daughter became very sick. I thought about how much easier it would have been to just focus on her. But I tried to keep up with work and nurse her back to health. The result is I'm exhausted.

Beyond the exhaustion, some working mothers feel frustrated trying to manage their family life. Apparently, their frustration has launched a whole new profession -- parent coaches. A Miami Herald article today on parent coaches said working mothers are turning to these experts when they can't handle the power struggles, arguments and or sibling rivalry. Jodi Mailander Farrell writes: "A 40-something first-time mother may be able to run a company, but when it comes to putting her baby to sleep at night, she may not have a clue."

But I think there's another question to ask working moms, "Which is more rewarding to manage career or family?" My guess you would find the same skew in the results. For most of us, recognition at work could never be as fulfilling as the handmade cards we will get today.

Which do you think is harder to manage career or family? Or is it trying to do both that makes our lives difficult?

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