Planning Your Career for Babies

Planning Your Career for BabiesWe’ve talked about how to financially plan for babies recently-ish, but we haven’t discussed other broad aspects of planning for babies since 2010, when I was pregnant with my first but hadn’t yet announced it here. (Ah, although we did have a nice discussion about when to get pregnant, which I’d forgotten about.) So what does planning your career for babies look like? I just got this related question from Reader K:

I am a 33 yo associate attorney at a small firm. I was pregnant with my first and then had a miscarriage in October. It was going to be perfect timing work-wise — due at the end of April. So here I am, possibly ready to try again. I have a big trial in a case that’s solely my case in February 2017. I doubt it will settle. Is it irresponsible of me to just try for a baby again regardless of timing? Work is very important but I also feel timing babies around work may be a fool’s errand.

I’m curious to hear what other readers have to say, but of course I have some thoughts. As a mother of two kids under 5, my advice to those of you trying to plan your career around eventually having a baby: Don’t. Some notes:

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Tales from the Wallet: Financially Preparing for Baby

financially-preparing-for-babyWe’ve talked about some of the major financial milestones that can affect your life, like wedding and grad school — but we haven’t yet talked about how to financially prepare for baby. (We have talked in general terms about family planning, as well as when the “best” time to get pregnant is.) So here are the questions: how can you prepare financially for a baby?  What considerations should factor into the decision to start trying?  Mamas, what are your best tips for the women still just pondering it? 

First, a story.  I remember being pregnant with my first child and reading a story somewhere about how babies were so expensive.  Yeah yeah yeah, I thought.  Sure, there are big purchases like a stroller and a crib.  But a baby shirt is like $5! Diapers are like, what, $20 a box?  NBD.

Stopped laughing yet?  I didn’t get it — in a big way.  CHILDCARE is the huge expense for children.  It really escaped my notice that if I wanted to work for 40 hours a week, then someone would need to watch the baby for 40 hours a week.  In most states, public school doesn’t kick in until kindergarten — aka, age FIVE.  So that’s five years of childcare — per kid — that you need to figure out.  We’ve talked about the pros and cons of different childcare arrangements over at CorporetteMoms, and last week we talked generally about parental budgeting — but I thought we’d bring the conversation over to Corporette.

For my $.02, for those of you just considering a baby, I would say:

  • Lock down health insurance.  I would strongly, strongly, strongly advise you to get health insurance (a good policy!) before you consider having a baby.  Doctors’ visits add up, as do ultrasounds, visits to specialists, and the ultimate labor and delivery bill.  (I believe my copay was $1000 for each pregnancy, but for my relatively uncomplicated births I recall seeing that the hospital bill for Jack was $16K, and for Harry it was $14K…. I definitely would not have wanted to be facing either of those numbers without insurance.)
  • Know your maternity leave policy. Note that you are only eligible for FMLA leave if “you have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, and have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.” We’ve also talked on here about negotiating for maternity leave at the interview stage, as well as (on CorporetteMoms) what an ideal maternity leave would look like.
  • Consider getting short-term disability.  Pregnancy may or may not be covered — and it may not be covered as a preexisting condition — so it’s best to think about this before you get pregnant.
  • Know if any vesting periods apply to you.  Stock options, pension plans, 401K matches, etc — if any of those employee perks may apply to you, take a look so you know what the situation is. If you’re only ten months away from being fully vested in a big perk, you may want to wait to start trying for another month or two.
  • Get a budgetary cushion.  You will need some cash for doctors’ copays and baby essentials, and you’ll eventually be able to roll that cushion over for childcare expenses.  In a perfect world I would suggest you have at least $1K-$5K cash, but obviously a lot of people have gotten pregnant with a lot less and been fine.
  • Talk to your doctors.  Finally, if you haven’t yet started trying to conceive, a minor note — talk to your doctor (and have your partner talk to his doctor) before you start.  My doctor suggested I get some more shots (the MMR vacine, if memory serves) that I could not have gotten while pregnant or nursing, and I also had genetic testing done. Unexpected health complications can be expensive, so being proactive here can really help.

Meanwhile, once you’re pregnant, I would suggest:

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Introducing… CorporetteMoms, a Request for Guest Bloggers, and Some Kat News

SO. I’ve kept a few creative endeavors on the down-low, and now is the time to share! (Gulp!)

CorporetteMoms

The CorporetteMoms Newsletter

Longtime Corporette readers may remember that when I announced my pregnancy with Jack (now 2.5 years old) I ALSO announced that I’d be starting a new newsletter, devoted entirely to pregnancy, navigating maternity leave, and the return to work. Ahem. I never actually got around to starting it, but it’s always been in the back of my mind as one of my major goals for expanding this site. So, first up: I am FINALLY starting the CorporetteMoms newsletterThere will be two subscription options:  one for if you’re pregnant (along with a free eBook with my very best tips for dressing professionally while pregnant), and a second if you’re a working mom interested in news, deal alerts, and other updates.

CorporetteMoms.com

In the process of developing the newsletter, though, one of the things that frustrated me was the huge variation in how the emails looked in different programs — so it was important to me that each post have a home on the web.  So: I am also announcing the launch of the CorporetteMoms SITE, now live at http://corporettemoms.comThe newsletter and site will have a lighter publishing schedule than we have here at Corporette, but there will be at least an Open Thread and news roundup every week, as well as deal alerts for women’s and kids’ clothes and gear. (Because CorporetteMoms has its own database and lives on a separate server for now, it’s likely that we’ll be testing forum software (!) there first… so stay tuned for that announcement, hopefully soon.)

A Call for Guest Bloggers!

But wait, there’s more — I’d LOVE to get some of you guys to be guest bloggers for the CorporetteMoms site. Yes, you! My hesitation in launching a site for working mothers has always been that a) there’s a TON of parenting and mom-deal sites out there (to say nothing of mommy blogs), many of which are doing amazing work (and are addictive reads for me), and b) my own work/life balance is an unusual one. But after a lot of thought, I realized that as an editor I could contribute to and facilitate two kinds of conversations:  professional maternity-style posts, and posts about work/life balance from REAL working women. So: [Read more…]

What To Do When You’re Overqualified

What to Do When You're Overqualified For Your Job | CorporetteHave you ever taken a job for which you’re overqualified?  Reader C recently took a step back from her career in order to spend more time with her family, and while she likes the money and hours, she isn’t thrilled with the level of daily challenge:

I’m a midcareer professional taking a step back into a new company. I made this choice to spend more time with my family and because the pay is great. However, I miscalculated how much of a step back it was and I want to position myself for rapid advancement within the co. to a level more consistent with my capabilities by trying to highlight my strengths and experience. I find myself handling many clerical level tasks due lack of staff to delegate to and I’m often complimented on very mundane activities (“nice job organizing that meeting!”) which happen to be much more visible than my strategic responsibilities and I don’t know how to respond. I want to acknowledge the compliment but also make clear that work of that nature doesn’t reflect my full role or potential. Jokes like “you should see what I’m really capable of” are vague, not always appropriate and wear thin quickly. Any recommendations for responding to these specific comments and for positioning for future advancement?

Hmmmn.  I’m curious to hear what readers say here.  You say the pay is great, and it sounds like the work/life juggle is in alignment — so what you want is more challenging work for the hours you’re there.  A few things to ask yourself:

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Career Plans: If, Why, How

Career Plans: If, Why, How | CorporetteShould you have a career plan at all? Why? How should you go about creating a career plan? We’ve talked about how to change careers, and even tried to collect people’s 5-year career goals, but we haven’t really talked about HOW to plan your career, and I’m curious to hear what readers say.

For my $.02: I’ve read a lot AGAINST career plans over the years (see, e.g., HBR and Forbes) — everyone suggests you favor serendipity, having an open mind, letting opportunities present themselves to you. But I was thinking the other day about “Lean In,” and how difficult it can really be to “lean in” when you’re in tumultuous life years, such as the pregnancy years — hoping/planning on getting pregnant, dealing with pregnancy exhaustion, figuring out life with a newborn, and then possibly doing it all again if you want multiple kids… and I realized how helpful a career plan might be, just to drive yourself forward over those few years (at least). [Read more…]

Scroll Forward In Your Palm Pilots…

Where Do You Think You'll Be in Five Years? | CorporetteWhere do you think you’ll be in five years? TEN years? How do you think gender issues will affect your journey?

The NYT recently looked up some of the women profiled in a 2001 article, “Great Expectations” — in the original article, it interviewed new female associates at BigLaw firm Debevoise & Plimpton and asked,

Do the new female associates expect to see themselves making partner in greater numbers than their predecessors? Here, 17 of them scroll forward on their Palm Pilots and try to predict, while 4 veterans look back on what it took and speculate about the former colleagues who followed a different path.

The more recent article/documentary, “Great Expectations for Female Lawyers,” looked up several of the women profiled and found that many had not accomplished their original goals, many pondering whether the gender gap had an impact on them.

So I’m going to do something fairly ambitious today: I’m going to ask you guys to scroll forward in YOUR Palm Pilots (tee hee) and tell me: where do you want/think you’ll be in five years — and in ten years? What do you think the major challenges are that you’ll encounter? How much do you think gender issues will play into your success or failure? I’d love to ask that everyone comment with an email address in the address field — I’ll keep your emails private but I’d love to be able to come back to this post in five years (or ten years, God willing) and email a few of you to see where you are, how it shook out. (This is the ambitious part!) (Of course all email addresses will be held in confidence, in keeping with The Corporette® Privacy Policy.)

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