{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "For the attorney moms, how do you focus/prioritize work? I’m a recent-ish mom and have been back to work for about 2 years at two different firms in that time. But I constantly struggle with guilt and putting off or slacking on work because it feels like my brain is hardwired to prioritize time with my child. I always feel like I’m lacking in one department. Will it ever get better? Any tips or similar experiences welcome!", "post_id": "61473476f90b470028fc496f", "reply_count": 28, "vote_count": 9, "bowl_id": "5da60c126e5f0d001f32f497", "bowl_name": "Women in Law" }

For the attorney moms, how do you focus/prioritize work? I’m a recent-ish mom and have been back to work for about 2 years at two different firms in that time. But I constantly struggle with guilt and putting off or slacking on work because it feels like my brain is hardwired to prioritize time with my child. I always feel like I’m lacking in one department. Will it ever get better? Any tips or similar experiences welcome!

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Not sure if it will help you, but in my early years of motherhood, I tried to follow the 10/10/10 rule. Ask yourself: what will matter more in 10 min, 10 months, 10 years? It’s a way to help keep perspective rather than managing the constant and immediate pulls in different directions.

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If you have flexibility, have you explored going reduced hours to spend more time with your kids? I have been on a reduced hours schedule for 12 years, and it afforded me 2 extra days a week with my kids before they started kindergarten.

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I don’t have kids yet but I feel like I won’t be able to work if I have my own baby … this wasn’t a helpful comment but just here to say I don’t know how you guys do it all

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This is how I feel considering my job feels so damn demanding already without kids

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Following because I struggle in this area as well. I have two under three and have taken reduced hours but somehow still end up working every day 8-5 and then again after my kids go down from 7-9 or 10ish. Realize this isn’t horrible for a big firm, but these hours + kid demands also make me feel like I’m never meeting expectations in either area.

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I’m *almost* at full time. I probably hit close to 85-90% each month but never quite hit the FT allocation. And yes, need to get better at saying no. That said, I do M&A and sometimes when a deal is busy, that’s it and fit feels like there isn’t much I can do about the hours because the work has to get done one way or another.

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Dealing with the same issue and living with guilt... I recently watched a Ted Talk on how to raise successful kids, and that helped with dealing with the guilt part. Splitting my work day to during school hours and after they go to bed was the only solution I could come with as well.

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No advice either, I have two kids and our billables are 170 per month. I feel like I’m always working and never making the minimum, and I have anxiety on weekends because I try to make it a point to actually hang out with my family and not work.

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I've been thinking about /stressing over this exact thing so much that I have dreams every night where I'm offered a job with reduced billables. I'm thinking seriously about approaching my partners to ask about doing this. This life is not sustainable.

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My 2 children are grown now, so I feel I have some perspective. When my first was born I was a prosecutor. I took 6 weeks maternity leave and returned to work. I left my son at a nice day are where my mom worked. She took him home with her in the afternoons when she got off. I felt comfortable with that arrangement until my son started catching every cold or other ailment going around at the daycare. I left my prosecutor job for a part-time contract position with a small plaintiff firm. After a year of that, I became pregnant again. I decided to take a break from work at least until after my second son was born. I ended up staying home with my kids until my younger son was 2 and my older son was 4. At that point I found a job as a law clerk at a state appellate court. I worked there for the next 15 years. I found this to be a good compromise. I had deadlines, but I didn’t have to travel or be in court. I was able to take time off for my kids’ school events (I was even a room mother) and could stay at home when they were sick. My hours were regular business hours. Of course my pay wasn’t what it what have been had I practiced with a firm. But I was able to be a mother, and I earned a state pension.

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One thing to think about is switching sides. I see a lot of billable hour attorneys on this forum. As a plaintiff’s attorney, you do not have billable hours in most fields. That allows you more flexibility because it’s about meeting deadlines and getting cases resolved, instead of billable hours. However, we also work really hard and can have bosses who pressure us to work insane hours. I have a 7 year old now. I get up really early to work from home for a couple hours, then. get him ready for school, then go back to work once he’s at school. If I have to work at nights or on a weekend, I try to work in the same room he is so he can see my working and I’m still there with him. I used to sit on the couch next to him when he watched cartoons. This trained my mind to be able to work and focus even in chaos (which has been useful with 3 boys jumping around my house when neighbors are visiting), and he understands that I’m working and not just gone. He sometimes sits on my lap as I type and watches me. I talk to him and explain that mommy is gone more because of work - but that we get to go on more fun vacations as a trade off. As a working mom, you have made a choice to not be there as much. It’s a trade off. But there are other benefits you get to give your child or children in the long run. But when I’m on a vacation, or with my kiddo at something, I give him my full attention. No work emails. The key is to accept you are going to struggle with that balance and give yourself grace and forgive yourself.

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No real advice. Just commiserating. My son is four. And it's a constant struggle.

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Thanks everyone for the advice! And even though I don’t relish in other’s suffering, it is a bit comforting to know I’m not alone in this struggle.

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I integrated my children into my practice continuing a working women in the family legacy. I built a transactional practice with a culture that fits. I don't read parenting blogs or listen to judgmental SAHM (some are supportive instead) and I don't feel guilty. Your work ethic, way you lead, and your priorities will always inspire your children regardless of whether they learn this directly from you or from watching or hearing about your day from you. Find the compensation and life-work balance that makes you happy and the role that you think would inspire your children.

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Your brains IS hardwired to prioritize your children. It’s called Oxytocin

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Biglaw associate. I have two kids - 1yr old and 3 yrs. I focus during the day, bill every damn thing I do, have dinner and focus on my kids, then aim work for 2 more hours at night. I don't work weekends. They go to a fancy daycare with teachers with masters degrees in education that teach them things much better than I could. Not going to lie, work is busy now and many nights I'm up until 2 a.m. I would not be happy being home with them 100% of the time. I'm competitive, and if I don't have an outlet for that I get mean. Yes, I am missing out on quantity of time with my kids but I make up for it with amazing quality time at dinner and on weekends. My mom didn't work much growing up but my dad did, and 30-plus years later I admire him more. No reason your kids can't admire you too. Plus, when they're out of the house you'll have an awesome job that keeps you mentally engaged while SAHMs are selling LulaRoe. No shade SAHMs, but just saying.

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I am a mom of four and I've just accepted guilt as a given but I know in my heart I'm doing what's best for my family. I love working. I switched practices so I could work from home permanently, stay in biglaw a bit longer, and have the flexibility to spend time with my kids before dinner during the weekday. My job will allow all of my kids to go to college debt free and set them up financially in way that they will have more freedom to choose a path that makes sense for their future families (if they decide to have one).

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So, my “young kids” years were a while ago, but two strategies really helped me: (1) I saved my back up “gas tank.” As I drove home from the office each evening, I mentally switched to an imaginary back-up tank of … energy, maybe just attention. I didn’t want my family to always have the dregs of me, so I saved something for them. Then, when I walked in I just kicked off the shoes and sat with kids, total attention, for 15 minutes or so. Miraculous. I felt good. They felt heard. It didn’t take long. (2) When my kids asked why I had to go to work, the answer was always “because I promised I would.” They understood that I kept my promises to them and that was important, so it made sense that I would keep my promises to do my job. It didn’t put them in competition with my job. Sorry that was so long. All of you with young kids now, total respect!

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The only way for it to get better is changing your mindset. Some days you’ll be an amazing lawyer and not the best mom and other days it will be reversed! Don’t be hard on yourself. Just celebrate the wins and make sure you get wins in both departments often enough. Also make a list of non negotiables with your child - the things you’ll always be present for no matter what. Good luck!

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I am due in December and seriously considering not going back. Not a financially sound decision and I worked so hard to get where I am now, but, why do we have to chose?

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I’m still reduced hours, 12 years later. I worked 60% for several years, then bumped to 75% when the volume of work increased.

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My boys are 5 and it’s still tough. One thing I learned was 1) I no longer wanted to be a business owner bc I was never “off”, and 2) I didn’t want to work at a firm that demanded more of my time than I was willing to give. I took a partnership at a firm that really hyped work/life balance, but in the end, I couldn’t balance well. Anytime the kids are sick or need anything, I feel like a horrible mom if I leave them. Now, I work for the courts and I have the ability to stay home. I don’t have income generation as a constant worry. It was the right choice for me. I’m sorry. This probably isn’t helpful. Just know you’re not alone.

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Daily struggle.

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