3 Tips for Work at Home Career Mom
Add one pinch of persistent societal traditions about parenting to a dash of mom guilt, and what do you get? The struggle that just about every career mom experiences, that’s what.
It might be the 2020s, but mothers everywhere are still stressing about what they feel is an expectation that they should be able to do everything — and do it perfectly. It’s the perfect recipe for a mountain of pressure. However, it’s high time that we put to rest all the misconceptions about the “do it all” mom.
Perhaps the biggest myth is that it’s impossible to figure out how to work and also be a mom. It’s obviously not, according to research cited by The New York Times. More moms of school-age kids are working than before the pandemic. Whether this is a result of the coronavirus-era mini baby boom or not, it’s put more mothers in the workforce. And plenty of them are making everything work. However, this leads to another myth: Working moms who look confident on the outside must feel comfortable on the inside.
Ask any mom, and she’ll tell you that what you see isn’t always a true picture. Take me, for example. I’m a CEO and mom. Yet every day, I push myself to be a role model to my daughter, whom I love with all my heart, and my team, whom I want to help explore their talents. To others’ eyes, I might seem like a big success. However, I’ll be the first to admit that even though the internet makes it easier to work remotely, any day can turn chaotic in an instant when you’re a career mom. That’s the theme of parenting in general, though, particularly when you’re a mom who’s a high achiever by nature.
How to Make It All Work Without Forcing Yourself Into the ‘Do It All’ Mom Mold
Here’s the basic truth: Being a work at home career mom is rewarding. Yes, it’s hard. And statistically, it’s harder for moms than dads to handle all the duties on their plates. According to Pew Research Center, 58% of working mothers versus 43% of working fathers said dealing with child care responsibilities was tough during the outbreak. That’s a particularly telling gap of 15 percentage points. Nevertheless, you can make everything work. You just have to keep a few tips in mind:
1. Forget about the whole notion of finding balance.
Doesn’t “balancing it all” sound great? Maybe it’s possible in theory or on a TV show. In real life, you have to be careful about visualizing your life as a career mom to be some kind of circus-balancing act. Balancing implies that you’re at risk of dropping something. In other words, when you try to balance, you immediately increase your stress because you’re always worried about something falling through the cracks — or shattering.
Bryan Dyson, former head of Coca-Cola, cleverly made an analogy in the early 1990s about life as a juggling act. Dyson explained that all the balls that really mattered, such as those pertaining to our personal lives, were glass balls. In contrast, work was a rubber ball. Drop a glass ball, such as your family, friends, or well-being, and you’ll be hard-pressed to put it back together quickly. Drop your rubber work ball, and it’ll rebound much faster.
This isn’t to suggest that you should see what you do as a career woman as less essential than what you do as a mother. It’s to remind you that you’re not a failure if you drop the rubber balls of life. So forget about balance and strive to do your best within the parameters you have.
2. Outsource what you can.
I don’t care if it’s your dishes, laundry, or lawn mowing. You can run yourself ragged trying to accomplish all the to-dos in life, particularly if you’re a working parent. A better solution is to outsource what you can to others.
You don’t need to be wealthy for this to happen, either. Not everyone has the luxury to be able to pay for a regular house cleaner or landscaper. Most people can afford to pay for Instacart once in a while or give a neighbor kid a few dollars to walk the dog. Your time has value, and you have to start weighing the cost-benefit aspect of paying others to make your life less frantic.
Child care falls into this category, too. Just over 60% of children 5 years old and under were in child care centers at least once a week, based on a 2019 survey of parents. Even if you’re a work-from-home mother, you needn’t feel embarrassed for considering child care. For instance, you might decide part-time child care is a good option. You can do all your highly focused work while your little one is being taken care of and meeting other kiddos. It’s a big career mom win-win.
3. Allow yourself to accept that parenting can be hard.
I went through bouts of severe postpartum depression and anxiety after giving birth. During that time, I saw countless social media influencers with multiple kids. They looked great in their makeup. Their bodies were nearly perfect. Seeing them made me wonder what was wrong with me for being unable to find time to shower more than once a week.
Fortunately, I opened up about my self-conscious concerns. Know what I discovered? Real moms know that parenting is hard. Therefore, don’t give into the automatic assumption that you can’t simultaneously feel overwhelmed and fulfilled. Saying, “I’m struggling,” doesn’t equate to saying, “I don’t love being a mom.” It’s just an honest assessment of your experience.
The next time you start to go hard on yourself, take a step back. Break the stigma. It’s OK to adore your child while admitting that parenting isn’t a piece of cake.
We working, remote-friendly moms are determined to make a better life for our kids. And guess what? You’re doing a great job working and acting as CEO of your household. So, give yourself an empowerment raise to not feel like you have to be perfect all the time.
This guest post was authored by Tonya Towles
Tonya Towles is the founder and CEO of The PCS Pro Team, which is passionate about helping military families build wealth via education and advocacy. She was born and raised in Hawaii by her single mother, who became disabled due to a severe case of Multiple Sclerosis when Tonya was in 5th grade. They were ultimately homeless for much of her childhood. Tonya moved to Colorado in 2013, eager to build a debt-free and meaningful life for herself. There she met her husband, Clay, who is active duty Army going on 10 years. After meeting her husband, Tonya’s enthusiasm for helping military families began. Tonya recently became a mother, and through motherhood, found another passion of supporting and empowering other working moms. Due to her upbringing, Tonya found the drive to impact as many lives as she could, and she now oversees more than 100 agents in 17 cities who help military families and working moms find careers they can be proud of.
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