Motherhood + Career/Business: 8 Tips to Make It Work
Few days ago, as I set out for work and took a quick selfie with my son, crouched in front of our mirror in the hallway, I thought to myself how I was behind on some of the goals I had set for myself—mostly because these days I was pretty exhausted to do anything else.
And then I remembered the question someone had asked me: “how does one not let motherhood deter your career or business goals?” I knew she didn’t have a child yet so I asked if she was having a baby soon. She responded in the negative but explained that she was just thinking ahead. No surprise there—many women often wonder just how much they can combine their business/career goals with motherhood.
As I gave her several tips, I knew that it should definitely be a full on blog post. Truth is, although it seems like a paradox, motherhood in some innate way almost acts as a propeller to dream big, innovate, and smash those goals. As Sheryl says in her excellent book Lean In, Motherhood is not the time to go slow, it’s actually the time to step on the accelerator!
1. Cut Yourself Some Slack
First things first. Let’s be honest, you’re not going to have a kid and immediately get back to hitting the accelerator at the same pace. You will have to realise that things may slow down—and that’s very okay. You will need time to get into this new balancing act—that’s the primary reason maternity leave is encouraged. So give yourself some room to adjust the timescale on your goals and don’t feel pressured to deliver at the same pre-baby rate. It’s advisable, if you can, to set a fixed period of time to settle before returning to full (or almost full throttle). If at any point you feel overwhelmed—whether you’re a new or veteran mum, always remember to cut yourself some slack. And see number 8 below too!
2. Ditch Mum Guilt
One of the things many mums admit stands in the way of their goals is “mum guilt”—which encompasses anything that makes you feel like you’re not doing your best for your kid and all of your attention and efforts should be 100 percent child focused. It also pops up when you attempt to have some “me-time.” But harbouring mum guilt doesn’t achieve much. To work on your goals you will have to ditch it. As long as you know (and you will know!) that your child is well looked after, you’re a person too and deserve to focus on yourself and your goals. In fact, you’re a person first before being a mum.
Arguably, the more fulfilled you feel about your goals, the easier it is to be a wonderful parent. So yes, schedule some time to make yourself feel great. Even the little things like hair and nail care, or cooking your own meals—anything that makes you feel prepared to crush those goals.
3. Leverage Spousal/Partner Support
This cannot even be underrated. If you have a partner/spouse, then that should ideally help! It’s such a privilege to have that one person who should support your parenting and professional goals. On the parenting side, we’ve talked about to get husbands/men more involved in parenting, as many mums really just overwhelm themselves trying to do it all.
On the professional/goals side, I was talking to someone recently who said her husband doesn’t quite support her goals and is never as excited as she is. Truth is, that he’s not as excited doesn’t mean he doesn’t support. He may just not have enough appreciation for the industry or the field. And ultimately your goals are personal to you. It’s your vision. Accept all of the support in the ways he can offer it, but if it’s not all you need, see number 6 below!
4. Sort (and Be Happy with) Childcare
One of the many things that could hinder your goals is childcare! Being unsettled about where your child spends most of the time and if they’re in good hands can be a constant cause of worry. If you work outside the home, that’s even worse. So as much as you can, childcare should be a focus. As early as you can, research nurseries and nannies as some of the best ones book up really fast. Try to build a relationship with nannies and child minders because sometimes they’re the solutions to those last minute no child care situations when you need to attend a work event, get on a long call or get out of town.
5. Find Accountability Partners/Mentors
It’s a lot harder to lose track of your goals when there’s no one checking in. Even if you’ve set SMART goals with a set timeframe, you end up moving the goal post because “who’s checking?” But when you’ve got a group of other mums, juggling it all, sharing tips, encouragement, and the down times too, you’re more likely to be inspired. So find that mum community of partners and mentors! And no, it doesn’t have to be a physical group. These days there are a number of virtual groups and communities, via Instagram and other social media. Find one, and if there’s none, create one! Additional ways to find similar stories include newsletters, books, interviews, and even podcasts featuring women and mums whose stories you can relate to!
6. Outsource Everything (Okay, As Much As You Can!)
If there’s one thing I’m a fan of, it’s outsourcing! And I’ll always always advocate for it. If you can afford to delegate or outsource certain routine tasks, do it. Even if it means cutting back a bit on items like clothing or beauty supplies. Truth is, half the time we spend on menial chores could be spent on more productive activities or be quality time spent with the family. So whether it’s getting a house cleaner, outsourcing laundry, a cook, investing in technology and appliances that cut time in half, I strongly recommend.
7. Focus on Quality Time
Someone recently sent me a Instagram comment about how the times we remember from our childhood are really the quality fun times. It’s often not a case of “how much time,” but more “how good.” You could be home all day and all you do is routine tasks like feed and change diapers, while the kids watch TV and you doze off on the couch. Neither you nor they are likely to have any fun memories of that. Make the times you have count. Do fun things with the kids and family. Make them exciting. Create long lasting memories!
8. Realise That You Can—You Really Are Awesome!
I started out by saying cut yourself some slack. It’s only right to end this by letting you know, you’re awesome! Honestly, we underestimate just how much we’re capable of achieving. As new or first-time mums it all just seems so overwhelming! So, give yourself all of the pep talk you may need. Stand in front of the mirror and strike a power pose if necessary. Write out your affirmations and post them all over your walls. Speak to yourself daily. You’re awesome—you’ve got this. And if you feel overwhelmed again, go back to 1, cut yourself some slack and then read tips 2-8 again!
FYI: In the middle of crushing motherhood and achieving your various goals, remember that there’s this thing called LIFE which is meant to be lived. So don’t forget to live and stop to actually enjoy the moments!
If you’re in these shoes, how has it been for you? Which of these tips are helpful and what would you add?