Mothers are not appreciated for being professional, intelligent, and talented women. Their economic value is dismissed; their lives are viewed as a "luxury;" their needs are considered secondary to those of their families and volunteer groups; and they are pushed to exhaustion from unreasonable expectations and constant, mundane tasks. Mothers work without pay, are on-call around the clock, and never get vacation time; the love of their family is expected to be adequate compensation. "Mothers' Nights Out" are viewed as treats, as are buying needed clothes, taking time to exercise, and maintaining their appearance. Stay-at-home-mothers give up job security, retirement benefits, and professional standing.

Why?

I've written before about how I am simply at a loss as to why women have permitted these conditions to persevere, and how I find encouragement that things are beginning to change, thanks to the internet and the prevalence of "mom bloggers," so I'm not going to go into that here.

Instead, I'm focusing on what we can do about changing this...because I believe we can.

How?

By adopting what I propose to be the Seven Rules of a Professional Family Manager.

Yes, just seven rules.

Okay, so they are not earth-shattering, and they may not even be the best and only solutions, but we women/wives/mothers have to begin someplace. So here is where I'm starting.

The Seven Rules of a Professional Family Manager

  1. Remember that you are first and foremost a human being; always be who you are. You are not your family.You are not just a housewife.You are a woman with needs, wants, and desires. Do not feel guilty for pursuing your own interests. Make no apologies for being who you are; do not allow anyone to sidetrack you from your goals. Celebrate who you are--all of who you are. If anyone questions you about that, then confidently and politely--always politely--challenge them on it.
  2. Respect yourself, your life, and your work. Do not belittle what you do or make excuses to anyone about your choices...and do not allow others to put you down! Do not react defensively if you are a stay-at-home-mother or make apologies for being a work-outside-the-home mother. Treat time with your spouse and children with the same respect as an appointment with a colleague or a doctor; don't allow anyone to infringe upon your time. Don't expect yourself to be perfect; do not apologize for not being perfect. And, most importantly, Just Say NO when you need to without guilt, apology, or explanation.
  3. Take time off. Getting away from work allows you to approach your career from fresh perspectives and greater energy. You will be more effective and a better woman, wife, and mother. Schedule time off and stick to it; do not make apologies for it or compromise your time. Act as though taking time off is the most natural, obvious thing in the world...because it is. Take the lead on this...hopefully more mothers will follow and more people will learn/understand its necessity.
  4. Invest in tools of your trade. All professionals have tools they use for their jobs. Don't skimp on tools that will help you get your work done more effectively, whether its a good pair of sneakers or a quality organizer or a cleaning brush or software programs. Get business cards! Set up a home office or a "command central" from which you manage your household. Take time to research your field, whether it be via books, blogs, or organizations; use the internet to find resources to make your job easier.
  5. Dress and act professionally. You deserve nice clothes; you don't have to spend a fortune to look great. You deserve nice hair and to have your nails done; if you can't afford to have it done, do it yourself. (If you are a stay-at-home-mom, think about this: you'd have to find the time to get yourself made-up if you worked outside the home, so just decide to find the time to get made-up for your at-home work.) Get business cards! When you look your best people treat you better (whether it's fair or not, it's true), plus you feel better about yourself.
  6. Educate yourself, educate others. Know what you are worth financially in addition to the value of the work you do for your family. Plan for your financial future, especially if you are a stay-at-home-mother. In conversations where you are being questioned or challenged, illustrate the financial cost of replacing you as a family worker or point out the ridiculous expectations placed on mothers. Speak with confidence and authority--you are an authority in your field! Remember the work you do is not "nothing."
  7. Expect respect. If you do not expect it, you certainly will not get it. There is a difference between self-absorption and self-respect; do not feel selfish or narcissistic for having confidence and expecting to be treated professionally.
These are the rules I have drawn up for myself as I encourage the world to respect motherhood as a challenging and rewarding career. What do you think? What would you add or change? Let's get the conversation going!
The Professional Family Manager

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Comment by Shay on January 29, 2010 at 3:11pm
This is a wonderful post - kudos! I've always thought that as mothers/housewives we are SO much more than "just" that. And I can't recommend enough how good it is to have a central command post where you keep everything you need to keep track of everything and everyone else! :)

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