If you are a mother with a career, you’ve gotten THE LOOK. You know, the one that you get along with the comment, “How nice, I’m sure your children will be fine growing up in daycare.’ or my favorite, “Oh I could never do that, I love my kids too much.” I’d like to share the four essential principles I think will help you manage your work and home life free of guilt and panic.
Spoiler alert! All you high-achievers out there, this is harder than you think but well worth the effort. To those of you who are already overwhelmed, small steps in each of these areas will produce big results. If all the energy you are pouring into your work and family is leaving you exhausted, discouraged, and still missing expectations, hold fast to these principles and don’t let go!
First, be confident in your choice of a career and family. Check your attitude and guard yourself against taking others’ comments personally. You didn’t ask for their opinion! No one knows better what is right for your family than you and your spouse. Channel your inner Mama Bear and stand up for them! Feeling guilty and chasing other people’s approval for your life choices only breeds guilt and powerlessness in your life. And, when pleasing others is your main focus, you cannot prioritize your most important goals: your family’s well-being and your unique contribution to society.
Take their negativity and transform it into positive energy. Remember you have had challenges before. There will always be nay sayers so consider it a challenge to prove them wrong. Your happiness and contentment will be the best rebuttal and rather than be wrong, they will likely step up their judgments! Consider it a badge of success and move on – you’ve got great stuff to do!
Second, design your life first and then work around your life. What I mean is, don’t let the company or your business rule your life. Companies are designed to get the most work out of you as possible – even the best ones. That is not wrong, but it is up to you to set the limits. I mean, if you are willing to work 24/7, why would your company stop you? There is ALWAYS more work than time. That big project will be followed by another one. Instead, use the skills you’ve learned in managing your work and your team to declutter your home life.
Third, schedule a daily chunk of family time and keep it sacred. Don’t let anything get scheduled on top of it. This is time you spend reading to your children, catching up on school, snuggling with them, playing with them, helping them with homework – NOT watching a movie together or chauffeuring them to soccer practice. This is relationship building time.
Lastly, look for ways to support women in your workplace. Too often we think of each other as competition for what we fear might be only position available for a woman in the company. This mindset creates a nasty 5th grade girls cat fight (although more sophisticated in nature). Be the leader that helps others succeed, encourages, and creates an ‘if one wins, all wins’ culture. There is great strength in unity.
So start here: check your attitude, take charge of your calendar, establish significant family time, and foster a culture of supportive women. Depending on your situation, some of these will be harder than others, but when these are in place, you will lower your stress, be more productive at work, and have much more meaningful relationships with those you love.