how do you contribute to the world (with small children)?

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how do you contribute to the world (with small children)? 1

I am a stay-at-home mom.

Wait. Don't let those stereotypes sink in. The image is appearing in your mind: a woman in jeans and a ponytail, singing the ABCs, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and changing diapers. Oh, wait - that IS me. But - that's not ALL of me. Not even close.

The reality is that I love speaking at conferences, traveling to new places, meeting new people, and volunteering in my community.

I like sipping wine, talking politics and good books, and collaborating with businesses. I have a Masters degree, a killer resume, and a million ideas.

I'd like to be a part of Greater Tucson Leadership and the local chamber of commerce. I'd like to sit on the board for the Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona. I'd like to join the National Speakers Association. I'd like to work/consult for a Fortune 500. I'd like to get my Ph.D.

BUT - I also don't like leaving my kids. I genuinely love being with them - every day, all day.

The trouble with leadership organizations and events in our culture is that they tend to block families out.

They want me to come to a "mixer" at 7pm every Tuesday - decked out in heels, with business cards in my pocket - while someone else puts my baby to bed.

They want me to go on trips - flying solo and staying in swanky that have water slides that my girls would L-O-V-E.

They want me to attend charity balls with invitations that say, "No Children, Please."

As such, I opt out. And so does my husband. Because as much as we care about our city/state/nation, we care about our kids MORE.

I wonder what can be done about this dilemma.  Some of the brightest minds, strongest communicators, and most innovative leaders that I know are highly involved parents that are choosing NOT to participate in business/political groups.

I propose a new model, a new paradigm. Perhaps babies could be meetings sometimes. Perhaps universities could leverage technology and offer more post-graduate degrees online. Perhaps business mixers could be family affairs sometimes (or be offered at more convenient times, at the very least). Perhaps companies could offer more flextime, part-time, and at-home opportunities. Perhaps, as a culture, we could begin to view a baby's laugh or a child's presence as something more than a distraction.

The question on my mind is: How can I contribute to the future of my city, state, and nation without compromising my family? I don't have the answer...


Are you a member or officer in any business, community, or political groups? Why or why not?

©2024 Stephanie Sheaffer - All Rights Reserved
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