Real you with kids

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

I remember sitting next to my oldest in the circle on the floor with all the kindergartners on his first day. When the teacher said, "All the mommies need to leave now!" I looked up, and realized I was the only parent still in the room. My son was fine; I was a mess. Next year, that same son will be away at college. I can't adequately express the emotions his first acceptance letter brought into my heart: His glee, my pride, his vision of the future coming into focus, and my vision of the future without him under my roof.

Transitions. All of them shape our lives as moms. And now, for so many of us, there is another transition taking place. For those of you finding yourselves faced with the reality of jumping back into the workforce full-time, or moving from part-time to full-time due to economic circumstances, you are not alone. A full 78 percent of all job reductions have affected men. That means, much like in the Rosie the Riveter days, women will fill in the gaps in the labor force, and will take charge of the cut-backs and financial balancing acts at home. We always have. Because we are accustomed to being flexible with our careers-taking time off for pregnancies, or extended time off to opt out-we are well-positioned to opt back in when we need to. Remember that. The very characteristics that make you a great mom-compassion, flexibility, ability to multi-task, adaptability, creativity-are the same characteristics you can harness to earn money for your family.

Thinking of starting a business? It's the decade of the entrepreneur, and women are leading the way! Figure out what you are really good at-from gardening, to baking, to jewelry-making, to computer programming-and start your own business doing just that. If you are passionate about a pursuit, you will be successful. Rather work for someone else? Think there aren't any jobs? Don't believe it! In times of cut-backs and downsizing, many positions open up for project and part-time work, as well as full-time employment in the fields experiencing growth. But be selective. If you're transitioning into the workforce, make sure it's a good fit. Right here in central Ohio, Ohio Health was named one of the best places to work in the nation by Fortune Magazine.

Due to financial pressures on her family, a friend of mine had to go back to work last year after staying at home with her three kids for 17 years. She planned out her strategy. Because she knew her kids would face a huge transition with her returning to work, she took a part-time job first, to ease them into the situation and to bulk up her resume. Now, she is working full-time and helping to support her family. She's almost ready to move on again and is confident she is building toward the career of her dreams, even though she never imagined being in the working world again.

Times of transition mark a farewell to yesterday and the start of a bright tomorrow. It can be scary, but don't let that fear immobilize you. As I write in my book, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, it is a jungle out there, so it's imperative to surround yourself with support. Be sure you find the real people in your life, and hold them close. These are the people who will help you through the personal mom transitions and the career transitions you will face along your journey.

Transitions are the pathway to your future. How you internalize these times of change determines whether you face tomorrow with a smile, or allow fear and sadness to hold you back. Just as you applauded your baby's first steps, applaud yourself for getting out there and making the best of the economic cards we've all been dealt. Although we can never predict what life will hold for us, we have the personal power to make the most of it. Times of change give us the push we need to step out of our comfort zones and shine.

Shine on!

Kaira Sturdivant Rouda is a mother of four, author and entrepreneur. She's interested in writing, yoga and energizing women's lives. She's also been known to "honk" when laughing. To learn more, visit