Let’s get real here – I never wanted to be a mother (gasp!). I had big dreams when I was a little girl – run for President (yup), get a corner office, run the world. You know, normal little girl stuff. But being a mother was never on that list. It wasn’t that I didn’t like children, I just had big dreams and those came first. As I got older, I prioritized my career and focused on achieving those dreams, and gave little thought to starting a family.
However, as I entered my 30s and my husband and I had been married for almost 10 years, the topic kept coming up. My big fear, of course, was that if I became a mother I would have to give up on my dreams. So months later when we decided to have a child and I became pregnant, I made it one of my priorities to figure out how I would balance motherhood with my work so that neither suffered.
I’ve talked to a lot of moms who feel serious guilt that they work instead of staying home with their kids. My response is always the same – your children will be stronger, more independent and better off if they see their mother as a woman who made her own choice – whether that was to stay at home or get that corner office. That doesn’t mean balancing motherhood with career is easy – there are definitely sacrifices on both sides, but I spend every day of my life proving that it can be done and that both you, and your children, are better for it.
So how do I manage both? With a lot of planning, patience and determination. And of course, wine. Here are the top ways I make it all work:
Your children will be stronger, more independent and better off if they see their mother as a woman who made her own choice. Click To TweetAsk for help. I didn’t decide to go into motherhood on my own, so I definitely don’t see my son as my sole responsibility. Even with his demanding job, my husband is an active father and equal partner in parenting, and that makes all the difference. We are constantly talking about how to divide up responsibilities so that no one parent feels the burden too much too often. And if you don’t have a partner in parenting, there are others who can help. While I would never expect my friends or family to take on the burden of parenting for me, I am always grateful when they offer to babysit or help out.
Outsource. Like many women I talk to, I grew up in a household where we did our own chores. We didn’t have a nanny or house cleaner so when I started my career and then became a mother, it wasn’t second nature for me to hire help. Once I did, though, it was a game changer. As a business owner, I am constantly thinking about the value and best use of my time and so when it comes to things like cleaning my house or meal prep, I often find it makes more sense to hire those tasks out so that I can focus on spending quality time with my son or building my business.
Schedule sacred family time. No matter how busy my schedule, my family time is sacred. On weekdays, I block out 5:30-7pm every evening so that I can spend that time with my son after daycare and before he goes to bed. No phones, no email, no computer – it all gets put away – so that I can spend this precious time with him. No matter how much time it is, or when it is, find a time that works for your family, put it on your calendar, and no matter what, don’t let it get bumped.
Focus on the important stuff. As the child of a single working mother, there were things that other kids’ parents did that mine just couldn’t (like being a room parent). For the most part, this didn’t bother me. Why? Because my mom was there when it mattered. All parents struggle with the constant flurry of events, activities, games, performances and more, so figuring out what matters early on can make the difference. That sporting event where your kid is finally getting to play? Probably important. Picking them up yourself every day from school? Maybe not so much.
Remember what matters. At the end of the day, I’m convinced that what kids really want and need is to feel heard and loved. No matter how much time I have with my son each day, I make sure he knows how important he is to me and how much I love him. When I’m with him I shower him with love and affection, and when I’m away from him I’ll schedule a FaceTime so he can at least see me and hear my voice. I give lots of hugs and when he’s upset, I make sure I’m there for him. Focusing on these important gifts is what, I believe, has made him a well-adjusted, happy kid, so that if I do have to miss a sporting event or travel for work, it’s not the end of the world because he knows that I love him.
I will keep screaming this from the rooftops – I think we do our kids a disservice if we give up our dreams for them. I want my son to see a strong, determined mother who believes in her self and her worth and is working hard to build something that matters. I think this is one of the best lessons I can teach him, and I believe that I am giving him so much more in life by teaching him about going after your dreams than I would if I were around him 24/7.