Hey there, mama! Welcome to the amazing journey that is motherhood. It doesn’t matter whether you gave birth, adopted, fostered, are currently pregnant, or are trying to conceive. You’re on the threshold of some big decisions, and you’re trying to prepare for how you’ll balance family and work in a way that feels good for you.
I’m sure you’ve heard it said that raising children is the world’s hardest but most rewarding job you could ever have. In some ways, that is absolutely true. You are raising the next generation of world changers and that is an enormous and amazing responsibility.
On the flip side though, you have also cultivated a hard-earned career. You have put in the time and have made many sacrifices to achieve the career you have today, and you’re not ready to just throw it all away (no matter how tempting it is to spend your days snuggling your sweet babe).
Managing Your Career Decisions Once You Have a Child
How do you balance raising your beloved children while also crushing your career goals?
As working moms, our entire lives can feel like one balancing act after another. We’re constantly faced with pressure to put 100% of ourselves into raising our children or into developing our careers (not to mention scheduling in that all-important “you” time!). This pressure can lead to frustration and major feelings of resentment.
To balance your family life and your work life, there are four key skills you need to cultivate such as:
Discovering what balance looks like to you.
Learning how to say “no”.
Saying goodbye to mom guilt.
Asking for and accepting help.
But when we focus on balancing our family life with our career goals, we can create a life that feels enjoyable and fulfilling. Because despite what the world would have you believe, your fulfillment—in every area of your life—absolutely matters.
1. Discover What Balance Looks Like to You
A balanced life is not a math equation. A balanced life is doing the right things at the right times. And right now, raising your children and having a career are both right things.
So how do we create balance in our lives when we are constantly pulled in so many directions seemingly all at the same time? While one magical solution does not exist, there are ways to prioritize and reorganize to create more peace and, therefore, more balance.
Set Your Priorities
What is most important to you right now? Take some time and really think about your current priorities. Break out a journal and write them down in order of importance.
Are you head over heels in love with those sweet baby snuggles? Does watching your child play their favorite sport bring you immense joy? Have you been working like crazy to get the experience and recognition for that upcoming promotion?
Seeing your priorities written down in front of you will help you examine what is important to you in this stage of life. When you understand what’s important to you, it’s much easier to give your time and energy to those things. It’s also much easier to say “no” (see below!) to things when you realize they’re not a top priority.
Remember, too, that your priorities can change. Revisiting your list and reevaluating the season you’re in helps you keep perspective and continue to put your time and energy into the things you truly value.
Moms are the literal queens of multitasking. We wear so many hats (crown included) that it’s no wonder we can feel so overwhelmed. When our schedules are jam-packed, it often feels like we’re in survival mode between scheduling business meetings and soccer game pick-ups.
When you create your schedule a week or even a month ahead of time, you can kick chaos to the curb and find more enjoyment in the minutiae of your day-to-day activities. Another incredible benefit of creating your schedules ahead of time? You can schedule time for self-care.
Block off an hour or two to sit and read in your favorite coffee shop. Find an hour to take a long walk in the morning or after dinner. Whatever self-care looks like to you, actually put it into your schedule.
Taking care of yourself is crucial to your physical and mental health. So do yourself a favor and take care of the wonderful woman you are. When we take care of ourselves, we are taking care of others in the process.
2. Learn How to Say “No”
Repeat after me: “I can’t do it all and that’s okay.” Did you catch the last part? It’s okay. You are human and your money and energy are finite. There is not enough caffeine in the world to turn you into a Marvel Avenger (as fabulous as that would be). When we realize that we cannot do everything everyone else wants us to do, we find freedom.
Balancing family and work is a big challenge. When you have too much on your plate, you can find peace in saying, “no”. Drawing and holding boundaries in the workplace and with your family—yes, you can and should draw boundaries with your own children!— is healthy and productive. It’s much harder to be a good employee/boss and mother/partner when you constantly feel like a doormat.
It’s okay if you can’t make every single work event. It’s okay if you can’t make every single basketball game or extra-curricular activity. Let yourself off the hook and breathe a long overdue sigh of relief.
Although we cannot physically become a superhero (Caffeine Queen to the rescue!), remember this: You are Wonder Woman to your family.
3. Say Goodbye to Mom Guilt
As moms, we face an enormous amount of pressure from others and from ourselves. Whether we decide to stay at home or rejoin the workforce, mothers are faced with impossible standards.
We are expected to work like we don’t have children and to raise our children like we don’t have a career. Stay-at-home mamas are judged for “throwing away their career” and working moms are judged for “not raising their children.”
Society and social media create so many unrealistic standards that we are constantly comparing ourselves to everyone else out there. When we are always chasing the standards of others, we lose sight of our own values and goals.
So let’s all agree, right here and now, what is right for one mama might be wrong for another and that is perfectly fine. We need to remember social media only shows us the tip of the iceberg of someone’s life—we are never seeing the whole picture.
4. Ask For and Accept Help
We are constantly being told that raising kids takes a village, and I know from personal experience that this is so true. We were never meant to do this all on our own, but today’s world is telling us that we should. So many of us are feeling overwhelming loneliness because we think we are on this journey alone.
Find Your Village
I know, finding your village is much easier said than done. Especially when this “village” doesn’t just magically appear after baby has arrived. Finding your people takes intentional time and effort and when you are balancing your family and your job, it can seem like another item on the to-do list.
But believe me, when you can find other moms to do life with—other moms who get it—your life improves.
Take some time and look up mom groups in your area or create one at the office! Does your church have a mama group or is there a “Mommy and Me” fitness class at your local gym you've been wanting to try? Finding mom groups and friends who are in the same season of motherhood you are in creates both community and support in your life.
When you have others to lean on, the world seems less chaotic and you realize you are not the only one going through the tough milestones and decisions you are facing.
When women support women, we create magic.
This is so important. Again, we were never meant to do this on our own. So say, “Yes, please!” when your friends offer to drop off a meal or watch the kiddos for a little while so you can have some me time.
Say “yes” to investing in a great daycare or finding a wonderful nanny or housekeeper to help you keep your life in order. Say “yes” to therapy or to speak with a counselor if you’re struggling.
Accepting help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.
Take the First Step to Achieve Work-Life Integration Today
There are challenges to every path in life and being a working mama is an incredibly hard but also an amazingly rewarding road. You have earned your career and you’re an amazing mother.
Balancing home life and your career is not easy, but when you set your priorities, stick to your boundaries, and remember that you are not on this journey alone, you can balance your career while still being the world’s greatest mom—because you are the best woman for the job.
As a working mama myself, I not only understand the struggles of balancing my home life and my career, but I am actively experiencing them as well!
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