A lot of women have been taught that you have to pick one or the other — having a booming career or a being rockstar mom — but take it from someone that's been balancing both for 9 years; you CAN have both.
Here' the secret, though. It ain't easy.
Just like there's no manual that comes with our complex kiddos, there's no guide for managing the demands of a career while meeting the needs of our families. But after so many years of figuring out what works and what doesn't work, here's some key components to balancing your career and being a mom (and things I wish I would have known sooner).
1. Ask this important question – Do I love what I do?
A lot of women carry around the guilt of being away from their children while they are at work, but a lot of that guilt can be eliminated if you feel passionate about what you do. If you leave your kids every day to go to a J-O-B that doesn’t give you any sort of satisfaction, then YES — you are spending time away that is NOT meaningful.
Take some time to write down your dream job. What kind of environment do you want to work in? What kind of people do you want to work with? And what kind of things do you like to do?
2. Set Expectations and Communicate Your Needs.
When searching for career opportunities, consider organizations that encourage work-life balance. Simply, ask the question… “How do you promote work-life balance?”
If you are looking to integrate more work-life balance with your current organization, have the conversation with your supervisor. If you weren’t very good at establishing the work-life balance before, your supervisor may not know that this is a priority for you. Don’t assume that your supervisor and/or organization expect you to put work over your family. Most likely, that’s you putting those expectations on yourself. If not, though, it may be time to look for an organization that meets your personal needs. BUT, if you aren’t good at establishing this first, changing organizations won’t work in your favor.
3. Boost Your Time management Skills.
Along the lines of creating separation between work and home-life, it’s important to take a look at your time management skills. If you find yourself bringing your work home a lot it’s probably because you feel like you didn't get enough done during the day. Common distractors from the day include meeting time, office interruptions, and e-mails (upon emails). Ways to eliminate these distractions include;
- Using block scheduling to hold times on your calendar (non-negotiable) for work time. Make it clear to your administrative staff and/or colleagues that these work time periods can not be scheduled over.
- Ensuring that meetings are worth your time. When meetings pop up, only respond to those that have an agenda so you that you can be positively sure that your presence is necessary. Most organizations are meeting-heavy. Try to encourage huddles or quick phone conversations over having a meeting about every.single.thing.
- Shutting your door or finding a private working place so that you can avoid the frequent in-person interruptions.
- Allotting specific time slots each day to catch up on email. Outside of those time slots, turn OFF email!
These small tricks will allow you to become more productive during the day so you can feel better about completely shutting off when you come home.
4. Say NO More Often.
Balancing a career and motherhood alone is A LOT. Not only from a time perspective, but physically AND mentally. It’s critical that you say YES when it’s necessary (self care, time with REAL friends, refilling your emotional fuel tank, etc.) and say NO to the things that don’t add value to your life.
Sometimes, we feel like saying YES is the right thing to do, especially if we feel like we are falling short already and carrying guilt around about being a working mom. But saying ‘yes' to ALL the things will only add more stress, spread you even thinner, and take energy away from the things that need more of you. Not sure what to say yes to? Do a gut check. Be selfish for a moment and ask yourself, “Is this is in alignment with my current priorities? Is this something I REALLY want to do? Is this taking me away from something ELSE I want to be doing?”
5. Pay Close Attention To Your Relationships.
Just as saying ‘no' to THINGS is important, it’s just as or even more important to evaluate the PEOPLE in your life. Relationships will either be energy depleting or energy fulfilling. If you have people in your life that are bringing you down or causing you to feel LESS THAN, it’s time to say NO to that relationship. Create a circle of support (including family and friends) that lift you up and are constantly cheering you on. Ain’t nobody got time for drama and toxic relationships. Especially YOU!
6. Involve the Kids.
I used to dismiss questions about work that came from my kids. Mostly because I didn’t want to take the time to try to explain to them what I do. But it’s important for them to understand WHY we work.
However, there’s a huge caveat here. I don’t like to say things like “Mom works so we can pay the bills…”
That’s not why I work. I could stay home if I wanted to. I work because it’s important for me to have a career I love and make a difference in the industry that I’m in.
If we teach our kids that we only work to pay bills, we dismiss the fact that life is about pursuing our passions and as part of that, it's important that what we do for WORK aligns real closely with our life's mission and objectives
7. Embrace the Chaos.
Release the need to be and feel perfect. Having to juggle so many things will most likely leave you feeling like you're falling short in so many ways. As a result, you probably feel like you are living in chaos. Naturally, we think chaos is bad and spin our wheels trying to get rid of it. But chaos isn't BAD. There are things that can help make chaos EASIER, but for the most part, we just have to embrace the messiness for awhile. Messy homes, boxed dinners and public temper tantrums are real life. Find gratitude within the chaos and know that without it, you would probably be incredibly bored.
8. Cure Your Comparitis.
Are you always comparing yourself to others and feeling like everyone else is killin' it in life except for you? This couldn't be more prevalent in today's world due to social media. We look at our messy lives and compare it to the perfect pictures on social media and wonder what we are doing wrong. Remember, social media pics are NOT real life. We are all humans. Everyone has struggles. And anyone that's trying to balance kids, career and LIFE is having challenges in one way or another. You are not alone!
9. Plan Ahead.
Use Sundays as your day to prep for the week. This could include meal planning, listing out activities for the week and having conversations with the family about what's in store for the next 7 days. This is key to making sure your weeks run smoothly.
10. Make Time For YOU.
As working moms, we often put ourselves LAST. We meet everyone else's needs but our own. If you aren't filling up your tank, you will be running on fumes and if you aren't paying attention to your physical and mental health, you won't be any good to ANYBODY. Find time each day, even if it's just 20 minutes, to do something for yourself. Meditation, reading, taking a bath, exercising, etc., are all things that can do to ensure you are keeping your gas tank full!
Give yourself some grace and some major PROPS.
Remember, you are NOT alone on this journey. Every working mom is trying to figure it out just as you are. Give yourself some grace and some major PROPS. You are doing BIG things for yourself, your family and your future!