I am still haunted by some of the decisions I had to make as a young single mom back in the 80’s, trying to build a career and raise two boys with no family around. There were horrible days when school was suddenly canceled due to snow, a teacher strike or the many teacher in-service days that left me scrambling for someone who could watch my two young sons, so I didn’t have to take a day off work without pay. It brings tears to my eyes even today as I recall one of those days.

I remember having to find drop-in daycare the night before an important client meeting I had to attend when school had suddenly been canceled. I needed to find a person or a place that would keep a 7 & 9-year-old occupied for a couple of hours. Phone call after phone call brought more panic as I could not find anyone who could stay home with them or allow me to drop them off on short notice. In the building where our meeting was being held there was a play place, like the kids’ pizza place with the playful mouse, but without the pizza and the mouse. It was filled with balls, jumping castles, and arcade games. It crossed my mind… but what kind of mom would do that? A desperate one.

I made the decision to bring them in and leave them there while I was in my meeting 2 floors above them. I gave them their tokens and strict instructions to not talk to strangers and to play safe… and then I left them… completely unsupervised for 2 hours! Alone. Seven and nine-year-old BOYS. Did I mention they were alone? Keep in mind this was before the days of cellphones. I didn’t even have a pager they could call if something happened. After the meeting ended, I ran back down and of course, they didn’t want to leave yet. Nothing bad had happened, but that day still haunts me.

I had days when I had to bring them into my office, apologizing to my teammates and promising they would sit by my desk and work quietly on their homework while I got my work done. It was horrible that I had to feel that way or make the decisions I had to make. I have never in my 40 years of working, met a man who has had to make such choices. I’m sure there are a few (and they will, no doubt, write to me after reading this) but women are constantly juggling their work and personal responsibilities to the point of excessive stress and exhaustion.

Thanks to technology and the onslaught of the “Gig Economy” women are creating business opportunities that allow them to work from home or in a “kid-friendly” coworking space with flex hours and not have to make such tough choices. But 30 years after my bad-parenting decision, women are still put in situations where they have to make tougher choices than men.

mens networking versus women's networking

I was just with a group of investors and mostly male entrepreneurs and they were talking about needing to set up a “whiskey and cigar meeting” with one of the guys who could “help us make the right connections.” It’s like the business deals done on the golf course. These are situations that women still struggle more than their male counterparts. Did any of these men think, “let me see if I have to pick up kids from soccer practice first?” or “I can always make dinner in the morning before I head to work and then little Taylor can heat it up on her own when she gets hungry.” NO. Of course not.

Networking events that are all after hours and include meeting for drinks just don’t make sense for the woman who is running to pick up kids from practice, get home to figure out what to make for dinner before helping kids do homework and get them to bed so she can respond to emails and proposals that still need her attention. Let’s change this picture.

I want to help women design a professional life that actually supports their personal life as well. Build networking into the workday as often as possible. Invite investors and coaches in who don’t need whiskey to get to know you. Host educational events that help us develop professional AND personal skills while having a space that kids can play and get homework done in the same place if needed…without GUILT!

While workspaces that focus on kegs and ping-pong tournaments as networking might work for some people, we know that women want something different. Women want help integrating their personal responsibilities and desires with networking and building their businesses and careers.  Women want opportunities to learn new skills and connect with resources to help them be successful CEOs of their businesses as well as their homes and families.

My hope is that my two daughters (yes, I got remarried 30 years ago and had two daughters who now work with me) will never have to make the decisions I did when I was a young mother. That they will be surrounded by a “Village” of business professionals that support their life goals and that they will find it so foreign to even think that women used to struggle with such things.

Gina Schreck CEO at The Village Workspace

If you want to be part of this Village, contact us for information or a tour. Our 12,000 square foot space has 26 offices, 5 conference rooms, a video/media studio, flex desk and designated desk spaces, an attached workout room with showers, a KIDS PLAYROOM, mom’s nursing room, and most importantly for me…a nap/zen room!