How to Lighten Your Load

how to lighten your loadIf you’re carrying a million bags, how do you look professional?  How can you lighten your load and reduce the number of bags you’re carrying? Reader R wonders…

I work in a large corporate environment and recently had a daughter. I’m back at work, but I feel like a bag lady. I’m only 5’3″ and have to carry in my laptop, purse, pump, lunch, and coffee. (Not brave enough to add my gym bag to the mix, although I’d like to.) I feel like the bags overwhelm my frame and generally make me look smaller, younger, and unprofessional. How do others juggle all this STUFF?

Congratulations on your daughter, R!  Great question — I can see how this is a problem for new mothers, but also for other people carrying too much stuff.  We’ve talked about what your tote bag says about you, as well as how to save your back while commuting, but we haven’t really talked about a) how to lighten your load, and b) how to balance your load (particularly if you’re petite) so it looks more managed.

From my perspective, most of reader R needs to do is to reduce the amount of stuff she carries.  Some tips: [Read more…]

How to Be Supportive To a Stay-At-Home Spouse

2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to be supportive to a stay-at-home dad — but you may also want to check out this Week in the Life of a Working Mom for her thoughts on supporting her partner, whose main job is staying home with their child. 

How can you be supportive of a stay-at-home dad or mom? We’ve talked about how to prepare to be a SAHM, but not about how to support your stay at home spouse, so let’s discuss.  Here’s Reader L’s question:

I want to find ways to encourage and be supportive of my husband, who is a stay at home dad to our six-month-old son for two months now. I’m a second year associate at a mid-sized firm.

Our game plan has always been for him to stay at home with our kids and he was very enthusiastic about it. I know he loves our son, but he is having a tough time being “on” all day with the baby.

I’ve suggested that we find a sitter or a day care we can use a few times a week, but he gets very defensive about that. I’m doing everything I can to help him with the baby and keeping the house clean.

I want to believe that it will get better with time, but I just don’t know. I’d love to hear what others’ experiences have been.

Great question, and I’ll be fascinated to hear what the readers say.  Although I’m more of a WAHM (work at home mom) than a SAHM (since I’m only without childcare/daddy for about 12 hours a week), here are a few thoughts of my own for any stay-at-home parent: [Read more…]

How to Fit Exercise Into a Busy Day

midday-workoutsAfter we linked to our last open thread on midday workouts, a bunch of readers expressed an interest in having another discussion on how to fit workouts into a busy day.  For my own $.02, in my ideal world I get my exercise out of the way first thing in the morning, my socializing in with friends in the evening, with a long day in between to do lots of work.

But of course, that’s easier said than done.  You may have work commitments in the morning, or prefer to use the time for other personal development.  And as a new mother, the thing I’ve realized since having a baby is that your concept of “me time” changes drastically once you have a kiddo.  Particularly that “morning/evening” time — if it isn’t already committed to work, that time quickly becomes blocked as “family time” — either because you genuinely want to see your child(ren), or you literally have no one else on hand to care for them (unless you have a nanny around the clock, lucky you).  So a midday workout is the only way a lot of people can fit in exercise at all.

So if you have to have a midday workout, here are a few ideas: [Read more…]

Staying in the Game: Tips for Stay at Home Moms

2018 Update: We still stand by these SAHM career tips, particularly for lawyers turned stay-at-home moms — but you may also want to check out some of our more recent stories on stay-at-home parents, including what you need to know about strategic volunteering, and what to consider when you’re thinking about not returning to work after maternity leave

Reader R writes with a question about how women who choose to stay home with their kids for a while can keep career paths open to them…

I’m hoping you and the lovely Corporette commenters will be able to offer some guidance. (as surely I’m not the only one who has faced or will face this dilemma).

I’m an ’08 law grad and spent two years in biglaw before accepting a government position last fall. Now I am pregnant and due this fall. I’d originally moved to government thinking it would be more amenable to family life, but have since decided I’d like to stay home full time, at least for a little while. If we end up having more than one child, I suppose it could end up being as long as 3 – 4 years.

So, my question is, knowing I’d like to return to the legal field one day, what can I do during my career hiatus to ensure that I am still marketable/relevant when I return to work and to help make that transition back easier? I’ve already made up my mind to stay home, so I am not really interested in a suggestion that I continue working. However, advice on how long is “too long” to be out of work would also be appreciated.

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I think you’re really smart to be thinking about this now — and not, say, in four years when you’re looking to get back in the workforce. I have no experience with this personally, so I’m really curious to hear what the readers say.

Picture via Stencil. (Original image (2011): Open Doors, originally uploaded to Flickr by *Fede*.)

[Read more…]

A Complete Wardrobe Revamp

Wardrobe Revamp | CorporetteReader R has a great question that every woman — probably at multiple times in her life — needs to ask: how to update your look?

After letting my corporate wardrobe decline for the past 8 years, I’m hurting for new clothes. I went through several pregnancies, and then a long period of professional malaise coupled with new motherhood, which left all of my clothes looking old, drool-stained and generally schlumpy. I need to re-vamp both my attitude (I’m young and still have many working years left) and my wardrobe. The attitude, I can deal with, but I don’t even know where to start with my wardrobe. I don’t want to buy cheap clothes, but I also don’t want to drop $10k getting my wardrobe back on track. Where should I start and what should I get? I don’t really need suits (I work in Silicon Valley), but rather office-appropriate pants and tops. I try to shop when I can (which is hard with kids and a full time job), and I pick up one or two new things here or there, but that doesn’t do anything to address the fundamental problems with my wardrobe. I need to figure out how to get a new, fairly complete wardrobe quickly, and without totally breaking the bank (Banana Republic/Ann Taylor-type prices are fine for me). I’ve discovered Zappos and gotten some shoes you suggested, so I think I’m OK in the shoe department for now. If you ever have the time and inclination to address this issue, I would be eternally grateful.

I have a theory that we’re all going to need to address this question at multiple times in our lives. Some times are obvious — if you graduate school, or start your first “big girl” job, or have recently lost or (sigh) gained 35 pounds — the fact that you need to rethink your style is not news to you.  Other times are more nebulous — you wake up one day and suddenly realize that your style has gone off kilter, somehow, from the path you think your real life is following (or wish it were). (Pictured:  Mom Jeans, the old SNL fake commecial — hilarious!) Reader R is right that a lot of this has to do with attitude — maybe for Thursday’s post we’ll talk about how to revamp your attitude. But stylewise… now that’s another issue.  As you’ll see below, clothes are probably the last thing you need to worry about — unless you take care of the first few steps, you’re still going to look and feel schlumpy no matter what clothes you own. [Read more…]

Some Thoughts on Frump

professional frump2017 Update: We still stand by this advice below, bu you can also check out our more recent discussion on how to avoid professional frump.

We got this reader mail a little while ago, and it seems appropriate in light of the response to this morning’s cardi set (wow, you guys did NOT like that).

Here’s my question: What makes a work outfit frumpy or dowdy? Here’s why: I’m a 41-year old attorney with a private firm. My work wardrobe has evolved from that of a newbie lawyer wearing a skirt suit and hose every day to that of a more seasoned professional in an increasingly casual workplace. My clothing spend has gone more toward the casual/funky/weekend and less toward classic suiting. I’ve recently moved to a larger law firm, and have taken a cold hard look at my professional wardrobe. With the help of a digital camera, I’ve come to realize that some of my old standards now seem downright frumpy. Those pieces will not be going back into my closet. The irony is that I’m earning more income than ever, but am having a difficult time finding professional pieces that I love. It’s like I’m having trouble figuring out how to dress my middle-aged professional self. So I ask: What mistakes do professional women commonly make that might be upping our frump factor?

A few of the answers I know: Failing to tailor clothes to fit our bodies, wearing our skirts too long and our pants too short, choosing “tan” hosiery. I also might need to break my addiction to shopping at discount places like Marshalls or TJ Maxx. At this point in my career, it’s probably time to be prepared to shell out the bucks for higher-end pieces.

Like we said:  totally appropriate for today’s discussion.  Some thoughts, off the cuff:

[Read more…]

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