Inspirational Mom Story: How One Mom Pivoted Her Career to Create More Work-Life Balance

I sat down with a mom friend who had a successful career in Corporate America and, like myself, needed to pause to focus on her family when her little one got sick. She warned me that it would not be easy when I joined the same path. That was the first year I’d struggled to find my identity outside of work, and boy, was she right. I leaned on her advice weekly, which gave me hope when she returned to her job after a long hiatus and even pursued a passion side hustle in the interim that was successful. 

But career pivots are sometimes needed and necessary for moms especially. According to a LinkedIn study of 23K workers, over half (56%) of employees say they acquired or improved skills — such as problem-solving, communication, and budgeting — during a career break. And over half (54%) of women say they are better at their job than before.

Here is our Q&A about how taking a career pause felt during that time and her advice on getting through it.

Q: At what age were your kids when you decided to take a career break?

I was at my company for 17 years doing business consulting with external clients and also held internal roles as Chief of Staff and Finance Manager. My last role was an alliance role, managing a global alliance with one of our largest clients. I traveled to India, London, the Netherlands, the US, and globally to help build a joint go-to-market strategy between our organizations. 

During the time in the alliance role, my daughter was born. Around 2018, she started getting these cyclical fevers every month. The fevers spiked to 105 and 106, and there was no reason why these fevers kept happening. The pediatrician kept telling me she was fighting a virus, but no one else in the house was getting sick, and she was not in daycare. I was missing so much work to care for her, and not being home was getting stressful. So I quit to care for her and be home with my kids. 

Q: How long after leaving work did you decide to start your own company?

My work was my life. It was a big part of my identity, and I didn’t realize HOW big it was until I quit. And so when I left, it was almost like I lost myself. It took me a while to get used to my new ‘normal’, and the first six months were hard. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and needed clarity. I love my kids but wasn’t used to always being home with them. So, I worked with a life coach, Sandra Posing. She’s phenomenal. She helped me to take a step back and prioritize what was most important to me. And that’s the one step I should have done while at work full-time. 

Stopping to ask myself: 

  • What are your priorities, both in business and in life? 
  • What do I want, and what do I love to do? 
  • What is my passion? 
  • If I could do anything in the world, what would I do? 

I started to dig deep, and I’ve always loved making floral arrangements. It’s been a passion of mine, but I would do them for my house, and everyone would come over and say, you should start a business. And I was like, oh – that’s it! While working through my coach, I realized I could turn my passion into a business while still caring for my family. 

Q: Once you decided to start a floral business, how did you manage your priorities when creating your own company?

My number one priority was my kids. I wanted to be a present mother. I wanted to go to their baseball games. I want to take them to ballet practice. I want to see them grow. I want to be there to help them with their homework. And so, identifying those priorities and then understanding my passion was starting this new business for me. Once I was in the driver’s seat and my kids’ calendars took priority, I could easily understand which orders I could fulfill and which would be too much. I managed the workload that worked for me, and I couldn’t have that freedom at the time with my role in Corporate America.

Q: How did you develop the right approach to starting your business?

I read the book Ten Year Plan by the founder of Tender Greens. He wrote about how it is tough to please everyone. You have your investors, you have your customers, you have your partners. But if you constantly stay centered on a human-centric customer relationship, and yes, profit means something, but it doesn’t mean everything if you want to grow your brand. For instance, giving a 10% discount just so that I ensured customers loved it and would return helped me grow my brand. I’ve been very fortunate enough to have many clients return, and I have a few subscription clients I do weekly. It fell into place. And it falls into place if you have your priorities and goals defined and set up front and don’t flex them. 

Q: What came next in building a tremendous floral business?

Once my customer was defined, I created my website. I hired a website developer. I got professional brand photography, where they took pictures of my work and then of me, and we put them all on our website. And so, really, the most significant lift for me was my website and then understanding the e-commerce side. How was I going to get paid without a brick-and-mortar shop? You have to rely on technology. So, I researched Square, Stripe, PayPal, etc. I went with Square because it was so easy and user-friendly. Everything, for me, had to be client-centric. It should be one touch simple and easy to order. And so, a good portion of my business start-up capital was used to build my website, and the rest was working capital. I made everything I put into my business back in one year!

Q: Back to your daughter — how is she doing now?

Fast forward two years, and we found out my daughter has a periodic fever syndrome. They’re very rare; unfortunately, little research has been done to find the cause. Interestingly, there has been an uptick in the diagnosis of periodic fever syndromes after the pandemic, as many kids have been getting fevers for no reason. Given we were under lockdown and kids were not mingling at school, viruses were no longer a reason for the fevers. Hopefully, this will spark a case for more research on the causes and treatment for periodic fever syndromes, as it was such a challenge navigating our healthcare system to find answers for why my baby was so sick every month! We finally got to a great rheumatologist, where we met with many experts and received a diagnosis. After that, we created a plan to remove her tonsils and adenoids once she was old enough. So we had the surgery right after they started lifting the COVID restrictions, and she’s been fever-free ever since.

Q: What’s next, and what advice do you have for moms going through similar situations?

In an odd turn, my employer returned to me after a 5-year hiatus and offered me a similar role with less travel. I took it, and it felt so good to come back. With the skills I had gained in growing my own business, I could now apply them within my role. For any career mom going through this, I’d offer that finding your community and sounding boards to help you create something for yourself will be challenging and different. Don’t lose yourself; find skills and flexible work that can work for you during that time. It all works out in the end, and you might gain other skills you couldn’t have by just doing the same thing. Think outside the box and keep your priorities clear.

My Thoughts on Creating a New Career Path

This is one of the many stories that inspired me to take the plunge and create something for myself when my son got sick. I thought about all my skills—friends who could help me and what I wanted to make for myself to fuel my passion each day. Part of that first step was ironing out the feasible amount of hours I could dedicate to it each week with limited help. 

I also considered gaps in my experience and where to invest in myself. I needed to be laser-clear on clients who would work for me after saying yes to many who did not. By ironing out my priorities and not jumping the gun, I finally created a work-life balance that worked better for my family and filled my cup. Community is also important! The workout crews I formed saved me from bouncing ideas and having an outlet for my thoughts each week as I reinvented my identity outside of full-time work. 

One place I immediately started as I set up to be the chief officer of our home was Parent School. There is a portable version for anyone to take it now. I wanted to be clear and consistent once I was at the helm each week. Check out that first episode about my favorite mantra and how it led me to create more calm at home and to start MomShine.