Lydia Toth had the perfect job arrangement. The Long Island mom of three kids, all under age five, was a marketing professional at a local Fortune 500 company. Over the years she had negotiated a work-from-home schedule. When a new boss nullified the arrangement, Lydia took matters into her own hands to do what was best for her family. Read on to find out why we choose Lydia as our Mom of the Month.
Lydia Toth worked in consumer marketing for 10 years in the retail and publishing industries. Toth revealed, “I used to be in the office every day, full time. Then when it was apparent that my baby care (i.e. my in-laws) needed help, I knew I needed to make a change. I made arrangements to work from home, but go in to the office when needed for meetings.”
Technically Lydia was logged in from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but she always found herself doing work late at night after the kids went to sleep. “At night I would work until 1 or 2 in the morning, but that wasn’t really part of the arrangement. That was just because the workload was so heavy,” she stated.
A few months before her youngest child was due, her company reorganized, and Lydia was assigned a new boss. “When we started working together, she [new boss] was hesitant to accept the work-from-home arrangement that I had with my previous boss. As time went on, she pulled me into the office more and more often for meetings. About a month before I had my third child, I was told that after I returned from maternity leave I would no longer be allowed to work from home. That did it for me – along with the fact that my baby care wasn’t going to be able to handle two toddlers plus a newborn at the same time.”
Lydia pointed out, “Most companies try to be flexible with a new baby and help ease a parent back into his or her ‘regular’ work routine, but that wasn’t the case for me. I felt like I was being punished for wanting to spend time with my family instead of dedicating my life to my job.”
“At night, my husband and I would talk about how we wanted our life to be,” said Lydia. “After some long discussions and a lot of prayer, we decided to take matters into our own hands. I started a firm called Level Up Properties that does commercial property management and residential redevelopment.”
Lydia continued, “I also became a licensed real estate agent so that I could provide clients with a myriad of real estate solutions such as selling homes for top dollar, arranging short sales, advising about foreclosure avoidance, finding a dream home and everything in between. I’m part of the Keller Williams family where we focus on making a positive impact on our clients and their communities. I’ve been working hard developing my team of All Stars to provide only the best for my clients.”
Self-employment provided many rewards and challenges. Lydia stated the biggest rewards were flexibility and time with her family. She’s able to attend events for her children (school plays, birthday parties, etc.) or take them to the doctor right away when they’re sick without feeling the guilt that she used to experience for missing work at her corporate job.
Lydia stated, “With my own business, I’m able to set my own schedule and rearrange when necessary. Plus, it’s a huge blessing to be able to spend time with my kids since they’re so young right now, whether it’s changing diapers, helping with homework, taking care of meals or playing make-believe. When they’re older they may not want me around as much (though I hope not!), so I want to be there during these key formative years.”
The biggest challenge was time management. Lydia admitted, “There are so many balls we juggle as parents, and having your own business is certainly a big one. With a traditional corporate job, lots of times you clock in at 9 a.m. and you clock out at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. Then you switch gears to your other job as mom/chef/errand runner/bill payer. As an entrepreneur, it’s tough to clock out. My mind is always running with new ideas or tasks to do or clients to follow up with. Plus, my office is at home, so I don’t have a long commute to decompress – I have a ten second walk up the stairs!”
Lydia’s situation with working in an inflexible corporate environment is unfortunately more of the norm than the exception in today’s society. When asked what she would give to moms in a similar situation where a manager was inflexible when it came to putting family first, Lydia advised, “Find someone who can be your cheerleader at the office, whether it’s your boss, someone in HR or another fellow parent who shares your experience. For me, I had that cheerleader…but when the reorganization happened, he was no longer able to fight for me.”
Some questions Lydia suggested that moms ask themselves were, “How important is it to you to put your family first? Are you able or willing to sacrifice time with them for your job?”
For Lydia the answers were “VERY” and “NO.” She recommended, “If your answers are the same, my advice is to either find a new corporate job that fits your desired flexibility or take a chance and strike out on your own. To be able to balance my work and family on my own terms is one of my dreams come true.”
Lydia found a way to make things work when her corporate manager made it clear that work came before family. She knew what was best for her family and persevered to make that happen. For this, Lydia Toth is the Long Island Mamas Network Mom of the Month.
By Maria Adcock