Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Moms: Forget Guilt--Enjoy Family, Career

You CAN have it all, if you're willing to make a few sacrifices for both your family and your career.

But most women need some help coping with "Mommy Guilt."

That's where Emily Bennington, career success expert and mom to two boys comes in.

In her book, Who Says It's a Man's World: The Girl's Guide to Corporate Domination, Bennington says working moms can save themselves a lot of heartache by clearly defining and scheduling priorities-for their kids and their work. She highlights five tradeoffs to think about:                                                       

* Tradeoff 1: Go for the "Big Money." When it comes to prioritizing your time, your kids aren't all that different from your boss. Focus on doing what will be the most important, the most visible, and have the most impact. If you can't make every school assembly and soccer game, ask your kids which events they'd prefer you'd attend. Giving your kids a voice in the decision will help them feel better about it-while learning a valuable lesson in time management. Also, don't let yourself get talked into behind-the-scenes work that your kids couldn't care less about. "Before you commit to anything, think about whether your child will notice," urges Bennington. "If the answer is no, well, there's your answer."                                                                       
* Tradeoff 2: Know what's important to your kids, even if they don't tell you. If your child senses you are completely stressed out, he may downplay the significance of things he really does care about. It could be the school bus trip you blew off, but it could also be something of greater significance, like unwanted peer pressure or the rejection of a first crush. The way your kids need you has as much to do with what's going on in their lives as what's going on in yours. "You can't get out of tune with them-regardless of how full your inbox is," Bennington stresses. 

* Tradeoff 3: Screw guilt. There will always be moms who seem juggle life effortlessly, with time to spare for Zumba. How you compare to them doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the relationship you have with your child. If you still can't shake your guilt, try keeping a journal of your finer parenting moments. It will bring you back around when you feel completely hopeless. Bennington also advises: Schedule a girls' night ASAP. "You're probably not going through anything a little malbec and a lot of trench stories with other working moms can't fix," she assures. "Trust me, its way cheaper than therapy." 

* Tradeoff 4: Put the end game first. Just like you do at the office, focus on details without losing sight of the bigger picture. Are your kids happy and well adjusted? So who cares if they've had a hot breakfast? "Parenting isn't a day-by-day or week-by-week gig, so forgive yourself (and your boss) if you occasionally have to miss out on something cool because your job needs you," Bennington states. "If your kids are old enough, use the occasion to explain that you are responsible for something at work and you want to do your best so that you can be proud of the result-and yourself."                        

* Tradeoff 5: Unapologetically guard your calendar. Your calendar is often a bellwether of your happiness. ("Really," Bennington attests.) Think about that the next time someone asks you to join a committee you're not passionate about...or invites you to lunch when you really don't want to go...or wants to pick your brain over coffee. In the wise words of one of Bennington's very successful working mom friends, "If it's not hell yeah, it's a NO!"                                   

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