Today, working moms really can have it all—a rewarding, fulfilling career of their dreams, and a happy family. Long gone is the 1950s stereotype of the modern women tethered to her kitchen, perpetually wearing an apron and the expected smile. In present year, millions of women can have a family while still balancing their careers.
Ladies, this is your time to shine! More women than ever are college educated, ambitious, and successful in the work force. So, what’s holding moms back? It may surprise many women to know that guilt often prevents embracing the opportunities that lay before us.
“Mom guilt” is a term for that conflict working mothers feel when balancing parent and professional life. Even with the support of their employers and spouses, working moms can struggle with feelings of anxiety, doubt, conflict, and guilt about being in the workplace while they have a little one at home. What’s worse—few working mothers open up about these feelings, instead internalizing them. This can lead to personal resentment, poor job performance, and emotional distress.
This article is meant to acknowledge this very real anxiety and assure working moms that it’s okay to reach for their dreams while still ensuring their children are well cared for. If you’re a working mom who’s struggling with that work life/home life balance, here are some vital tips to help you shift your perspective and have some peace of mind.
Organize Your Life
Having a schedule will provide you a way to see, in real time, just how much time you are devoting to your career and your children. Set up a calendar with reminders. Check in throughout the day. Once it’s all laid out before you, you’ll see that there is a way to prepare that big presentation and still make it to pick your kids up from daycare. By taking just a few minutes each day to plan out what needs to be done, you may be surprised to find you have more time than ever before. When work time is over, you can enjoy family time, knowing that you’ve budgeted time to take care of your work duties. Likewise, once you’ve entered your work environment, you’ll be assured you’ve taken care of your at-home responsibilities or planned adequate time to get to them later in the day.
Understand that mistakes happen
Even well-oiled machines experience their hiccups. It’s easy to look at a missed work deadline and feel like you’ve done an inadequate job and let your team down. Likewise, it’s distressing to see your child’s lunchbox on the kitchen counter after the bus has pulled away, and realize it was overlooked.
Allow yourself to correct these mistakes. Like everyone else—working parent or otherwise—you’re only human. Rather than beating yourself up yourself, ask yourself the following: What can I do, within reason, to sort this out? In the case of a missed work deadline, be upfront with your team. Tell them that you weren’t able to make your commitment on time and let them know when you’ll be able to make up for it. In the case of the missed lunch box, if you contact the school, is there a school lunch that can be provided for the day? Is there anyone—a partner, relative or friend—who can drive the lunch box over? If you must do it yourself, what’s the worst thing that happens? You’re a few minutes late for work. What do all these outcomes have in common? Nobody gets hurt. The planet keeps spinning. You’re still great at your job, and your kids are perfectly happy and loved.
Learn to shut out the noise
These days, it seems that everyone has an opinion about working mothers. Some will be supportive, while others will try to guilt trip you with the same tired clichés. “Why have kids if you don’t raise them yourself?” “Aren’t you worried you’re missing out on those years?” Or, from the corporate aspect, “How are you supposed to handle the demands of this job while taking care of your children?” It’s easy for others to pass judgment without looking into the validity of what they’re saying. Anyone who questions your parenting, or your work ethic isn’t really looking for a reasonable answer. They’re just phrasing their own judgments and stigmas in the form of a question. Remember, you know your own capabilities. You know that you love your children and you know that you’re good at your job. When imperfect days happen—and they happen to us all—it isn’t a sign from the universe that you’ve made the wrong choice. Instead, they’re opportunities for you to prove that you’ve got this. And you do!
Even the best-laid plans can be disrupted. Things happen, many of which are out of our control. Hurricanes, flu season, a flock of locusts tying up the freeway on your way to meet with an important client. It happens. And when it does, take a breath. Remember that you’ve made it this far because of your ability to handle what comes your way. Trust in yourself to find a solution. As John Lennon once sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Take a deep breath
Motherhood is tough. Having a job is tough. Both things are true for everyone who experiences them. Inevitably, there will be days that are overwhelming. Your boss is being unreasonable, or your toddler discovers the faucet and floods the upstairs bathroom. The truth is that you deserve a hot stone massage, a manicure, a relaxing soak in a bubble bath, and that extra shot of espresso in your latte. If you can work these in—great! But there are only so many hours in a day, and you won’t always have the time. That’s why it’s important to learn to breathe through any situation.
Take a moment to collect yourself before responding to stressors. When you need help—ask for it! Whether it’s a coworker, your partner, or someone you trust to help shoulder the burden, there’s no shame in admitting that you’re human and you need a minute to regroup.
Remember, above all else, that you have worked hard for everything you have. You can handle whatever comes your way.
You’ve got this!
Arthur Ellis, is owner and photographer at Arthur Ellis Photography, in Charleston, SC. He specializes in Family & Children, Headshots, and Boudoir photography. He can be reached through his website: ArthurEllisPhotography.com
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