Banish Work-Life Balance and Embrace These 4 Working Mom Tips Instead
Whoever said, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail” obviously wasn’t a career-focused mom.
When I was due with my first child, I worked within a financial advisory firm. To make sure that I could keep “killing it” on the job after my son’s birth, I laid out what I thought was an airtight plan. I’d work a couple of days at home, a couple of days in the office, and be the most productive contributor ever. The managing partner agreed to the arrangement. After all, the plan sounded perfect.
Except life isn’t perfect.
When I went back to work, I followed my plan which very quickly fell apart — and it felt awful. I hadn’t factored in that I wouldn’t have time to blow dry my hair or that I’d suffer from sleep deprivation with a colicky newborn. Juggling a marriage, baby, household, financial planning clients, and my health, I felt frazzled and out of control. I felt like a complete failure. Everywhere.
Yet I wasn’t. I was doing what every working mom or dad does: my best.
Now that I’ve done the giving birth routine three times, I have a much different perspective. And if you’re trying to “have it all,” I want you to know that it’s okay to reset your expectations. See, the world is wrong. There is no perfect balance. There’s only what makes sense for you.
Unrealistic Goals Based on Artificial Pressures
I can’t help but chuckle when I see a magazine or billboard picture of a mom wearing high heels, black suits, and looking amazing with a designer baby on her hip. It’s great for marketing, but it’s not real. What’s real is showing up to a meeting with baby spit on your collar and dark circles under your eyes. But that’s not going to sell high-end luxury items.
It’s time to stop giving in to all the pressures that advertising and society put out about the working mother image. Otherwise, you’ll walk around all day thinking, “I’m the only one who’s not delivering!” You’ll put so much anxiety and unnecessary pressure on yourself that you won’t be able to be rooted or present anywhere. When you’re at home, you’ll feel bad for not working. When you’re working, you’ll feel bad for not being at home.
The only way to end the psychologically damaging cycle is to give yourself permission to pivot. Change your mindset and you’ll find that you’ll have less trouble leaning into a lifestyle that might not be perfect by Hollywood standards, but is still perfectly reasonable nonetheless — and may be just right for you.
How do you start? Try some of my favorite working mom tips.
1. Forget about balance.
Rather than think you can control everything, understand that life is unpredictable. This means your planning and expectations are going to be out of whack from time to time. Nevertheless, remind yourself often that you’re doing far better than you think.
Basically, I want you to cut yourself some slack. Not having the laundry done every day (or week!) doesn’t make you a bad mom, wife, or partner. Just embrace the messy. If you keep a positive, reflective, honest mindset, you’ll stay focused and realize it’s okay to be unbalanced sometimes. The extra bedtime story read to my 2-year-old toddler while holding their sweet little hand provided the most beautiful, treasured memories — worth far more to me than tending to the towels on the bathroom floor.
2. Put your family first.
You want to have an amazing career. I do, too. But here’s the most important thing: In 20 years, the brutal reality is that no one will likely remember the job you performed except you. Your kids, however, will remember what you did for them all the days of their life, in all the small moments that matter most. My advice: Never miss a major game or an important family event; pre-block your calendar to put what, and who, you value most in first. As challenging as that may be, everyone else will adapt to your prioritization.
The point is that you have the power to create and embrace the days that matter. You may not be able to do all things all the time for your family with having a career and other commitments, but you have the right to put those closest to you first. To the best of your ability, seek out like-minded people who support, value, and appreciate you for who you are and align with them to curate a life worth living by your standards, and no one else’s.
3. Set longer-term plans.
One of the missteps I made was that I went about planning all wrong. I shouldn’t have planned each day or week in a microscopic way, but rather for one year, three years, five years, and 10 years out. Setting up long-term plans allows you the grace to be imperfect in the short-term yet strive for achievement long-term.
For instance, when you get to the one-year mark, you won’t be looking at how you did each individual day. You’ll be evaluating how you did overall. In general, this will help you to understand that you actually did pretty well, even if some days, weeks, or months were rough. Most high-achievers accomplish more than they give themselves credit for. Long-term planning helps you keep everything in perspective.
4. Ask for help.
You don’t have to struggle or feel alone. It was a more taboo topic 20 years ago to admit we couldn’t do it all alone. Now, it’s more acceptable to be vulnerable and authentic. There’s no shame in being worried, having fears, or admitting to physical, mental or emotional challenges such as postpartum depression. Sure, it can be challenging to ask for help from a partner, family member, friend, or those you work with, but you’ll find so much relief if you do.
You’ll have bad days and you’ll have good days. Take clarity breaks and be honest with others around you. Saying, “I can’t be all things to all people,” doesn’t make you a failure. And by naming your frustrations and fears, you’ll take away their sting. Sharing in the joy — as well as the pitfalls and heartaches — can not only help you, but also help others who are working through these same issues.
Whether you want to put your career on hold for a while to start a family or move full-speed ahead with your career while having kids, it’s your choice. Instead of letting others’ opinions or insistence that you “need to balance it all” drive your emotions, be sure to give yourself grace. Even on those hard days, you’re doing great. Really.
This guest post was authored by Kelly Knight
Kelly Knight is an expert builder of teams. She is hard-wired to find and grow other talented people, guiding them to reach their maximum potential. After spending 20 years within the financial services industry, managing and leading dynamic organizations, Kelly has been serving as the EOS Worldwide Integrator since 2016. Named to the 2022 Inc. 5000 as one of America’s fastest-growing companies, as well as to the 2022 Inaugural Inc. Power Partner list, EOS Worldwide has helped thousands of entrepreneurs all over the globe get everything they want from their businesses.
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