Being a mom is hard. Having a career is hard. Trying to be a loving mother while pursuing a successful career? The hardest!
And while it’s certainly more challenging for a mother of young children to build a successful career, it’s absolutely possible. It’s all about architecting the lifestyle that you want in order to excel in both areas. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom:
1.Identify Your Priorities
Even though your abilities are bordering on being a superhero, you have to understand that you’re working with limited resources. You only have so much time and energy to devote to different areas of your life. So it’s important that you narrow your focus down to no more than five priorities – one for each finger on your hand.
Your five priorities might include any combination of work, parenting, social life, health, romantic relationships, spiritual life, hobbies, etc. Or you might even drill it down further to the core and prioritize specific aspects of each. The point is that you can’t achieve any semblance of balance without having your priorities clearly identified.
When you have your priorities established, it makes it easier to say yes or no to an opportunity. Suddenly, your life becomes as simple as pursuing what you’ve already identified as mattering most. It won’t always be easy to follow through, but at least you’ll have a plan.
2.Know Your Triggers
The second key is to know your triggers. In other words, what overwhelms you, stresses you out, and prevents you from being as efficient and focused as you can. (This includes triggers in both your personal life as a mother and your career.)
Triggers are typically things that zap your energy without adding much value to your life. A personal trigger could be your seven-year-old daughter’s overloaded schedule. Do either of you really care about her being involved in band, dance, softball, and gymnastics all at once? Why not scale back to focusing on just one extracurricular? Imagine how much more relaxed (and less rushed) you’d both feel.
Another trigger could be procrastination at work. You put off a particular assignment that doesn’t have to be done right away, which eventually leads to a point where you have to cram in a ton of extra hours during the last weekend of the month. This prevents you from spending time with your kids and heightens your stress level.
Whatever your triggers are, identify them so that you can attack them at the root. And if you already have a clear understanding of your priorities, it becomes easier to tackle this issue.
3.Find a Flexible Career
If you’re stuck working a nine to five office job where you have to clock in and out, pick and choose vacation days, and toe a corporate line, you might want to reconsider what you’re doing.
In today’s day and age, there are plenty of flexible career options for working moms who want to spend more time with their kids. Real estate is a great example. Earning your real estate license could allow you to pursue a full-time or part-time career as a real estate agent – supplementing or increasing your income, while simultaneously getting to deepen your relationships with your kids.
4.Instill Responsibility in Your Kids
As a working mother, your kids need to be more responsible than the average children are. It’s not easy, but instilling responsible habits in them from a very young age will lessen the pressure you face.
For example, teach your kids to clean up after themselves, brush their own teeth, fold their own clothes, collect laundry from the bedrooms, or unload the dishwasher. These are all things that kids can begin helping with from the age of just three or four years old. Don’t wait until they’re teenagers. It’ll be too late!
5.Plan and Structure Your Mornings
As a working mom, mornings are arguably the most critical period of the day. You can’t afford to sleep in and roll out of bed with your kids. Wake up before they do and have an intentional schedule for every 15-minute block leading up to the time you leave the house. This schedule should include time to plan for the day, eat a healthy meal, bond with your kids, and address any other key items that impact your family on a daily basis.
You’ve Got This, Mama!
There’s no secret sauce or proprietary formula to be a successful working mom. It’s all about identifying what’s most important to you and architecting a realistic plan that allows you to excel in both areas.
There will be some months where you feel like a bad mom and other months where you worry that you aren’t doing enough in your career, but you have to zoom out and look at the big picture. You’re more than your individual and isolated “failures.” You’re a success story who is modeling what it looks like to be a responsible and ambitious person without compromising on family values. Keep it up…especially when it feels like everything is falling apart!