The best juggling act of them all, it turns out, is not found in a loud and brightly-lit circus. The distinction belongs to working moms, who seemingly best embody the “If you want something done, ask a busy person!” expression. Motherhood, by itself, is a formidable yet rewarding role. Mixing in elements such as the complexities of work, running a family, and managing a minefield of relationships helps add up to what becomes a colorful and rollercoaster-like experience.
Unlike McDonald’s Hamburger University, there is no Career and Motherhood University. However, working moms, this is no cause for despair as an article by Patti Johnson offers a mother loads of encouragement on balancing both important facets:
There is no one right answer on how to do career and motherhood—on how to “have it all.” But you can do both, and you can do both well. How you do it depends on unique factors: what you want, your situation, your home life, and the kind of job you have.
Johnson passes along tips and realizations on how she was able to make both responsibilities co-exist well. Here is one woman’s take on how she was not only able to survive but also, more importantly, thrive:
- Stop comparing yourself to other moms. As a full-time mother (and part-time employee in the sense your job is only a part of your life), take note that you have a life of your own with its unique set of circumstances. To each working mom, her own path. What is important is to be in tune with your child’s well-being, needs, and preferences and address it the best way you can.
- Ask your kids how they feel and let that be your compass. To feel is to be able to empathize with your family’s, especially your kids, highs and lows. By gauging how your family is at the given moment, a mother, whether at home or at work, can choose the most appropriate positive gesture that can bring joy to her loved ones.
- Treat important family events like client meetings. Family events must be treated as red letter dates and blocked off ahead of time. Engaged participation and quality time is in store for the kids and available in exclusive fashion.
- Let your kids in on your decisions. Keep your kids posted on any decisions made. If your kids have to be made aware that Mommy needed to stay a bit longer to finish an important job, do so. This also pertains to communicating the right values to your kids, such as hard work and walking your talk.
- Look beyond one day or one week. Take a broader view of your schedule by peeking through the lens of a month-long time frame. Seeing it from such vantage point stretches your schedule and doesn’t force you to cram everything in a day or week.
- Find the right partner(s). Even the supermoms of the world can’t do it alone. Partners, in the form of a supportive spouse, close friend, and caring family member, can help take some of the heavy load.
- Get out of a situation that doesn’t fit your definition of success. Know what matters. Distinguish what success means in your personal terms. If a job’s perks and privileges take away sweet interaction time between you and your family, find out if there is a solution. Adjust accordingly to your priorities (read: family).
- Say no more often. The problem with being too nice is we can be too gun shy in saying “no”. Time is gold and much better spent with significant people and things.
- Ask for what you need. Without asking, the answer will always be “no.” Do not be afraid to speak your truth. Care for yourself too and let your voice and sentiments be heard.
- Invite friends over even if your couch is old. Relationships give meaning to our lives so why delay touching base with friends, for instance, when the opportunity clearly presents itself? Interactions of this kind can give a jolt to the life of a hardworking mother. In your opinion, especially for any working moms out there, is there an area that would take precedence over the other? Interestingly, here in the Philippines, a 2011 Jobstreet.com survey showed Filipino working women place more importance on their families than their careers. There are also some examples of those who have struck a balance between being a mom and holding a job.
Whatever area you may choose to prioritize more, know that the success of the career-motherhood dynamic can only flourish with the right balance, being able to enjoy and focus on the gifts available on this journey, and coming from the heart.
Image By Ellyn Gray