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Part-Time Accountant

Full-Time Mother (Part I of II)

Striking a work-life balance is difficult. Are there solutions and an upside to firms committed to retaining the investment made developing professionals? This article was originally written in 2013 for the Withum Journal where Laura Whitman shares her perspective. The article has been updated to reflect events that occurred since it was originally published. This article was then addressed from the firm’s vantage point by John Mortenson, the partner in charge of the Withum East Brunswick, NJ office in an interview by Edward Mendlowitz, a partner in that office.

This article was originally written in 2013 for the Withum Journal and it has been updated with events that occurred since then. This article was then addressed from the firm’s vantage point by John Mortenson, the partner in charge of the Withum East Brunswick, NJ office in an interview by Edward Mendlowitz, a partner in that office.

In 2006 I became a mom.

Like most mothers returning to work after having their first baby, leaving my son at home was one of the hardest days of my life. As time went on, each day got a little easier, but I knew I did not want to work full-time and miss out on the daily activities of my son’s childhood (I now have three children).

I wanted to work part-time and not leave the workforce altogether. Fortunately, I was able to find the right balance. My office’s partner-in-charge was supportive of my decision and was able to accommodate my request. Since then, I have found my identity both as a mother and an active member of the profession.

The main ingredients that have made it possible to become a successful part-time manager include:

Technology

  • The technology the firm uses enables me to review and work on files as if I am in the office, attend webinars, and update my schedule—anytime, anywhere.
  • Smartphone keeps me “in the loop” even when I am preparing meals or watching a gymnastics class. I can always send a quick response no matter where I am.
  • Cloud software—Being able to access most of our programs online keeps work moving wherever I am.

Support of My Colleagues

  • When something unexpected comes up at home, usually a sick child, I can count on my colleagues to get that day’s work done.
  • I am not pressured to take on a task that would not be suitable to my situation. The partners support my part-time status and challenge me, while at the same time accommodating my schedule.

Acceptance

  • I cannot do it all. Many times, I have to say “no” to certain tasks or projects that I would have otherwise chosen to participate in (at work and at home). I have learned not to take on more than I can handle. I used to feel bad about saying no, but I know now that sometimes it is necessary, for both my wellbeing and for client service.
  • My life is not perfect and never will be. The laundry will never be completely done, and there will always be dishes in my sink. I will always have e-mails and voicemails to respond to. Taking on the challenge of being a mom of three and a part-time manager means prioritizing daily work and being extremely busy most days from morning until late in the night. However, I have chosen this path, and I would not have it any other way.

Satisfaction

  • I love that I have an identity outside of “mom,” but I also love that I can make homemade lunches (and breakfasts and dinners) almost every day for my kids. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given to enjoy being a mom and a CPA.

My Next Chapter

  • After working many years on a reduced schedule and lots of days working from home, my youngest child started kindergarten and I knew that I would like to be back in the office five days a week. I found an opportunity within the firm that fit what I was looking for perfectly. The firm’s new group, Withum Workflow, was growing and I was able to renew my career in this new space with many opportunities ahead of me. While I am working five days, I can set the hours to meet my schedule and do not need to work any overtime hours.
  • I love public accounting and the opportunities it presents. My family here at Withum has been very accommodating to my choices. My kids are old enough to understand that I have a professional life and take the interruptions with my need to take a call or return a client e-mail in stride.
  • At this time, I am grateful for the balance I have found between my professional and family worlds and the opportunities ahead for me.

This article was previously published in the Withum Journal, 2013, and is republished here with permission.


Laura Whitman, CPA, MS, Manager, WithumSmith+Brown, PC.
Ms. Whitman can be contacted at (732) 828-1614 or by e-mail to lwhitman@withum.com.

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