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3 Tips for Working Mothers from AIU Online Faculty Carol Sagers

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Being a mother is the rewarding job that never ends. There are moments of triumph and moments of defeat. There are days when you're just not confident in your juggling capabilities, and days you feel ready to throw in the towel.

However, in those moments, remember: You can be a full-time mom and a full-time professional. It's not impossible.

Take it from AIU Online business faculty member Carol Sagers, who won a Working Mother of the Year Award from Working Mother magazine in 2007.

"There was never a time when I didn't work. I was pregnant at work, I gave birth, I took eight weeks off, then I went back. I didn't think I did what anyone else wouldn't do, I just did what I had to do," she says.

In addition to teaching online, Sagers currently operates and owns CHS Marketing Consultants, a firm she built in 1996. Her extensive resume includes working with such organizations as McDonald's, Kraft Foods, and L'Oreal Soft Sheen Products, to name a few. While her professional titles have ranged from teacher to marketing director to principal consultant and everything in between, her dedication to her title as "mom" has never wavered.

Here are her three pieces of advice for working moms:

  1. You must have a "can-do" attitude. "Don't think it's impossible. I'm not special. I did it, my mom did it, my grandma did it. It's been done for decades, so it can be done," she says. "I'd bring my sons to work with me. They can tell you in extensive detail what their mother does for a living."
  2. Live on a schedule. "I can't tell you how many times I left the car running outside of the nursery to race in one minute till 6 p.m. (to pick up my kids) since they charged $5 more for each minute past six. The schedule is your friend. It helps you do what you're supposed to do," she says. "I operate on a schedule – during this time, these things must happen. It keeps me productive. It's how I get where I'm supposed to be."
  3. Be organized. "It's like I tell my younger son, 'Every Sunday, have your clothes pulled out for the week. If you don't, it can really affect your morning. Understand the work that has to be done and the time needed to do it." With her own firm, this quality is essential. "I'm in charge of me. I own my own time. ... I decide what I'm going to take on, and what I'm not going to take on."

These skills and her career success led her to win the Working Mother of the Year award. When she learned the news, "Actually, I cried," she says. "They flew me, my two sons, and husband to New York for a luncheon with five to six other working mothers. We were all given different titles. Mine was 'Trailblazer Mother,'" she says.

While there won't be enough awards to go around to all working mothers, Sagers says that she managed to stay on top thanks to her ability to adapt. "I've been above-average lucky to have landed in great places. Hard work leads to success, and failure leads to success. I've learned to take advantage of the situations I've landed in."

Sagers holds her M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and her B.S. in Advertising from the University of Illinois-Urbana. She has received numerous honors and awards, including 2012 Chicago Illini of the Year, University of Illinois Alumni Association; 2010 Industry Career Achievement Award, American Advertising Federation; and 2008 Chicago Defender Women of Excellence Award.

Looking for more examples of full-time moms who found a way to balance their lives and professional goals? Meet AIU alumni Coralanne Griffith-Hunte and Eugenia Capobianco.