While you are having loads of fun with your newborn baby, there is something on your mind, that is causing stress and anxiety. How can I balance work and family? This is the common cause of worry for all working mothers. Here’s the real truth of being a working mom.
Rachel is a mother, entrepreneur, wife, daughter and friend. She left the corporate world after her daughter was born as she quickly realised she was not going to achieve the flexibility she required for her daughter. She decided to go freelance and has done really well in a marketing and strategy consulting role.
Recently Rachel came to chat to me about a major challenge she is facing. She shared how difficult this adjustment is from full day to ‘flexible’ half-day because work creeps into her special time with her daughter when a deadline looms or even just to ‘quickly’ check her inbox or finish off some loose ends. On top of this, she works after her daughter has gone to sleep.
I totally resonated with this because I made the switch to entrepreneur before my kids were born in order to have the flexibility and be the master over my diary. My son was born 6 years ago and I still feel like I don’t have it right.
I have constantly questioned if I am doing the right thing, debated how to juggle the demands of work and parenting, deal with the incessant mental chatter and guilt – you know the ‘should be’ mental chatter of ‘you should be with your kids, you should be spending time with your husband’ when you’re working.
However I have had 6 years to deal with my demons on this and feel qualified to share some advice.
It is not only Rachel’s story, I have had numerous women in corporate companies, freelancers and entrepreneurs share the same challenges. It comes down to how to best balance our work and family in a flexible capacity.
There are 2 forces going on inside our heads.
Number 1 – I want to be present and accessible to my children while they are young and before they become consumed with extra murals, friends and then decide they don’t really want to spend time with me.
And secondly – I want to maintain my individuality, my sense of self and have work that creates meaning for me. In other words, we don’t just want the identity of ‘I’m Aiden’s mother’.
So, here are some thoughts on how to navigate this mental battle.
1. Perfection doesn’t exist
When we stray away from ‘traditional’ 8am to 5pm hours in a closed environment, we have an expectation of how our day ‘should’ be. We map out our diaries with the days intended action plan and then the reality is that it is almost never like that. Life happens – someone gets sick, there’s an urgent client request and by the time we need to fetch our kids from school, we feel like we achieved zero. When these days happen, remind yourself that’s life. You can’t control everything!
In fact, you can’t control anything. So have a plan but be open to accepting when the day unfolds in its own way. If you get a flat tyre, accept it. If someone needs to stay home because they are ill, then make the most of the morning and ask yourself ‘How can I now appreciate this as a gift’? I learned that advice from Personal Development guru, Tony Robbins.
It allows you to reframe the situation and accept it for what it is. When we persist against how it ‘should’ be in our minds, we will never be able to see past it. For example, if you can’t get to that proposal because your child is ill, then appreciate the quality time and make peace with the fact that you just won’t get to it in your allocated time slot.