Libryia Jones is a future of work advocate and a mom who is passionate about travel. She has a goal to help 10,000 moms land remote jobs so they can do great work from anywhere and show up for their families the way they desire.
You may have heard people say that if your vision doesn’t scare you, it’s too small. But what if it makes you laugh almost uncontrollably? In early 2021, I had a call with a friend to discuss the details of an event I launched, called the Quit Commuting Conference. During our conversation, I tried to tell her my vision for the work I’m passionate about, but every time I tried to express it, I laughed before I could get it out.
I couldn’t quite articulate what I wanted to because, quite honestly, I kind of felt like it sounded ridiculous. But that feeling is exactly what let me know that I was on the right track.
I was finally able to say it out loud: “My vision is to help 10,000 moms land remote jobs so they can do great work from anywhere and show up for their families the way they desire.” It’s an audacious goal and, I believe, a noble one.
But why is the vision focused specifically on moms? One of the first lessons I learned about motherhood is that everyone has an opinion on how it should be done. There have always been such tight constraints on what constitutes “good mothering” that any minor steps outside that box have historically made women the subjects of disapproving glares from the mom squad, if not fully labeled as “bad mothers.”
I want a broader definition of what it means to be a good mother. I want to expand the choices and options available to moms for how they manage their careers and their families.
I want moms not to have to choose between financial independence and family.
When my daughter was a baby, I had a full-time job and earned about $25,000 per year. It was barely enough to take care of both of us and certainly not enough to give us the life I had dreamed of for us (which mostly included traveling). I wanted to make more money, and the only idea I had to do so was to pick up a second job. But who was going to keep my daughter while I worked even more? I could pay for additional childcare, but that would cost the extra money I earned. It would also mean less time with my very young daughter.
Thankfully, I landed a part-time WFH job doing customer service for Toys“R”Us. Having the ability to earn additional income from the comfort of my home, where, in between calls, I could tend to my daughter, was a game changer. I could let her color and play right next to my desk while I worked. If she had a question, I was there to answer it. If she wanted a random hug, I was there to give it to her. I no longer had to choose—I could improve my financial situation and spend time with my daughter.
Remote work opportunities allow moms to choose family and finances simultaneously. Whether their goal is to get a higher-paying job or start a side hustle, being able to work from home means they can make money while being physically present with their children.
I want women to stop feeling like their careers are at risk when they become moms.
My first “real job” out of college, I worked for a big-four consulting firm. I was one of only five women who worked in our department, and one of only two moms. The other mom was a senior manager, and the only woman in a leadership position. About four months after she returned from maternity leave with her first child, I started noticing something looked different but familiar about her. I suspected she was pregnant again but didn’t want to make any assumptions.
She took me to lunch one day and confided that she was in fact
pregnant again and was terrified to tell our senior partner, her boss, that she’d need to take another maternity leave soon. She finally mustered the courage to have the necessary conversation with her boss, and his response confirmed that she had every right to be terrified. He crossed his arms, leaned back in his chair slowly, frowned, and asked, “Are you planning on having any more kids after this?”
She was convinced that she had stifled her career by choosing to have a baby and then having the nerve to go and have another one. She wasn’t entirely wrong, at least not for many women in her position. The consulting business is all about how many hours you can bill, and if you’re a woman who has to “take herself out of the game” for months to have a baby, then your stats often won’t stack up against your male counterparts.
I get it—having a colleague out of the office for three months is challenging, especially in a consulting business, where you live and die by your employees’ billable hours. But it’s unfair, if only circumstantially, that women so often live in fear that their careers are at risk when they become mothers. Here is where I believe remote work can help.
Workplaces may never fully get over the fact that new moms will need to miss work so they can recover from childbirth and spend time with their newborns. It comes with the territory. But offering remote and flexible work options empowers moms to feel as if they are in control of whether they want to start working sooner, because they can balance motherhood with work, or whether they want to continue to take more time off. The challenge with the current model is that it’s too rigid—either you take the time away from your career or you take the time away from your child. Remote workplaces represent another option, one that offers mothers a happy medium.
I want moms to choose how they show up for their families
My daughter has always struggled in school. Learning in a traditional classroom setting has never been easy for her. She’s a daydreamer, a fidgeter, a creative. The system isn’t set up for children like her. It broke my heart year after year to watch her confidence chip away as her teachers scolded her for not paying attention or for handing in sloppy work and gave her very few opportunities to shine in the areas where her true strengths lay.
I daydreamed often about being one of those moms who take matters into their own hands and homeschool their children. In my mind, there was just no way I could do it. Not when bills needed to be paid, food needed to be put on the table, and health insurance needed to be covered.
In 2016, I landed a remote job with a software company, making more than I had ever earned and receiving better benefits than I had ever had. I finally had the opportunity to pull my daughter out of “the system” and enroll her in an online school where I could supplement her learning, and where there were no teachers to admonish her for doodling on her paper and no other “normal” kids for her to compare herself to. Having the opportunity to decide that I wanted to manage my daughter’s learning in a way that would benefit her most was a powerful experience for me.
What we quickly learned was that we are not a homeschool family, and we couldn’t wait to get her back into the system. In our case, we waited too late to start homeschooling. But what my daughter and I both continue to appreciate is that we had the option and the opportunity to try it. And so many other children do thrive in a homeschool or online school environment.
My ability to work remotely expanded my options for my daughter’s education and empowered me to make the best decisions for her. It also afforded me the ability to care for my mother when she needed me in 2015, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and decided to undergo a double mastectomy. Under normal circumstances, I would likely have taken off a couple of days of work to be in Tallahassee, my hometown, for her surgery and then come back to Atlanta so I could be in the office. But because I was freelancing from home as a project manager, I could decide where to work from. I was able to go back home twice, for two weeks each time, to be there for my mom during her surgery and to be her caretaker afterward. It was incredible to have the flexibility to show up for my mother in this way and to give her back some of the love and nurturing she’s given me my whole life.
Mothers deserve the chance to plan their futures
Overall, I want women to get the chance to mom “outside the box,” outside the way that motherhood has historically been prescribed and defined for us. This is why I set the audacious goal to help 10,000 moms land remote work. I want moms to have the ability to make their own decisions for their families. If we want to have seven kids, homeschool, advance in our careers, be classroom moms, travel, or even move abroad with our families, I want us to have those options.
My hope is that for at least 10,000 moms, their work will allow them to show up for their families the way they desire. Motherhood itself is already the undisputed most difficult job that has ever existed. We should at least get to do the job the way we want.