When I wrote “Ten Promises Every Working Mother Should Make to Herself” for Working Mother magazine, we were not fighting a global pandemic. Businesses were not virtual, the majority of us were not working from home and we most certainly were not homeschooling our children on top of our normal jobs (and if you were, wow!).

As I reflect on the 10 promises today, I am curious how our new normal is impacting the expectations we place on ourselves as women and mothers in the workplace.

Back when things were normal, I wrote:

“For working mothers, life is a blur of “long days and short years” — the days feel so long yet the years fly by really fast. Often, we put ourselves and our career aspirations on the back burner. Our families are a force in motion (always in motion) and our professional lives can move into auto pilot. We lose sight of our career dreams because we are managing so much more than ourselves.”

Today, we can add “What day is it?!” to the blur of life as our normal routines and schedules are literally wiped clean from our daily family calendars.

Are the 10 promises still possible in our new normal? What new promises do we need to make? What kind of support and flexibility do we need from our employers, spouses and partners? How do we kindle and grow professional connections with other women when there is social distance between us?

For me, I’m promising to focus more on my whole self which includes finding time to exercise, checking in with my network of old friends (by phone or Zoom!) and spending time on hobbies that I love, like baking. Since our town pool is closed and I can no longer look forward to my daily swim, I’m trying new things like biking. I also love talking to my mom and two daughters, one of whom lives across the country.

I’d like to hear from you; from your seat, from your house; from your reality. What new promises are you making to your professional self? Which promises below mean the most to you right now and what can you do to move them forward?

Through a shared commitment to helping women thrive and rise, we will get through this together and perhaps learn more about what is most important to us as a community of professional women.


Promise #1: I will not feel guilty about being a professional and a mother.

Promise #2: I will set goals and schedule regular check-ins with myself to make sure I’m working on projects that challenge me in fulfilling ways.

Promise #3: I will actively mentor and sponsor other women so we can climb together.

Promise #4: I will utilize flexibility and ask for more when/if I need it. If I am a manager, I will encourage others to do so as well and model this behavior in positive ways.

Promise #5: I will find concrete ways to gain access to senior leaders.

Promise #6: I will share household chores. (Women in senior management are seven times more likely than men at the same level to say they do more than half of the housework.)

Promise #7: I will develop a small community of women at my company to share perspectives, challenges and joys. We will encourage one another.

Promise #8: I will be a positive force in creating diversity & inclusion initiatives at my company.

Promise #9: I will advocate for myself and not be afraid of difficult conversations that could make positive change and advance my career.

Promise #10: I will be prepared for anything and believe in myself.


About the Author

As CEO of reacHIRE, Addie Swartz works with Fortune 500 companies to create opportunities and empower women at all ages and stages of their careers. From return-to-work programs with industry leaders including Fidelity, Wayfair and T-Mobile to the Aurora digital platform for early career professionals, Addie is a leading voice on how to support and advance professional women at all ages and stages of their careers.