Three Tips to Balance being a Mother and a Business Woman
I read an article this weekend about how scientists have spent years mapping out the maternal brain, charting out the changing currents of a woman’s mental chemistry as she goes through pregnancy and childbirth. An intriguing subject in its own right, but seeing as I am a new mother myself, the topic grabbed my attention and refused to let go. However, what truly made the article stand out to me so was not how it educated me, but how it intrigued me. Reading about the various ways these surging hormones effect a mother’s emotional state and higher functions got me wondering just how much of an effect it was having on my own.
I had to stop and ask myself, do I feel any different?
And to be honest, the answer I found was “yes.”
I may not be able to scientifically document if changes have taken place on a physiological level, but as the proud mother of a month-old daughter, I can promise you I think about things differently now. Her presence in my life has drastically altered my perspective, revealing the true depth of challenges I thought I was prepared for, as well as new sides to aspects of life I was so sure I had already figured out. Looking at things from this new angle can be dizzying at times, and trying to balance a home life with a career can leave a woman feeling unsteady enough as it is, but little by little I’m finding my feet. This period of our lives can be difficult to navigate, let alone understand, but these three tips I’ve come up with might just help you get through it.
1) Use Your Time Strategically
If I had a dollar for every time a friend of colleague asked how I’m able to juggle raising my newborn child alongside running multiple businesses, I’d be rich enough to retire right now. While I’m not ready to leave the working world just yet, having to uphold so many more responsibilities in the same amount of time does have me looking forward to it.
That’s not to say I’m not up to the task, I was an organized person long before my baby came along, but having her here has revealed my skills were more superficial than I realized. All the day planners and itinerary lists I prided myself on don’t quite cut it in the big leagues of motherhood, I need to start using my time strategically if I want to win.
So I am.
I’ve started squeezing what personal care appointments I can between meetings or on lunch breaks, getting my hair done and grabbing a bite to eat all before my next big presentation. My doctor visits are all scheduled in the early mornings now, the only way to get my health checked is if it’s before the business day begins. Planning out my day used to be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, but now it’s akin to a game of solitaire, less making sure the pieces are in proper place and more finding places where the pieces can just fit. Actually, it’s more like a game of Uno, as it’s not just my own cards I have to think about, but also those of my husband, not to mention the nanny.
It can be incredibly overwhelming at first, a tireless struggle to find order and arrangement, but the key to success is transparency. Just like running a business, you need to communicate with the people on your team so you can all coordinate the workload. Like I said in my previous post about resolving Bottlenecks, delegation of responsibilities can be integral to a successful operation, or in this case, a happy family. After explaining to my husband the errands I planned to run on my way home from work, he was able to take two of the big stops off my list since they were already on his commute, and he’d still get home before the nanny needed to leave. Had I shouldered the burdens myself, I never would have been able to open up my schedule like that, nor would I have had this extra time to make a wonderful home cooked dinner or get my hair done after work instead of on my break as usual.
2) Adapt to Unexpected Changes
The business world is always evolving, and a business professional always needs to be ready to change with it. If you’re not keeping up with the latest development that revolutionizes the industry, you’ll be left behind as a relic of practices that are no longer relevant. I always prided myself on being able to go with the flow when it comes to the workplace, but having a daughter has put my old standards of adaptability to shame.
The only predictable thing about children is that they will always surprise you, and not just in the good way. As exciting as it can be to see your little one say their first word or take their first step before you were expecting them to, seeing them spit up all over themselves after you just dressed them up for family photos or watching them about to roll off the changing table after you only looked away for a second is not the kind of exhilaration you want in your life. Even the most carefully laid plans and back up plans can still be toppled by your baby, something I learned the hard way when my nanny called me at work about my daughter having a temperature of 101 °F.
It was quite the shock, as was the way I leapt from my office chair and flew down the freeway, cancelling everything on my schedule as I headed home to take care of my child. Thank my lucky stars her fever broke, after some Tylenol and TLC she was smiling back at me once more, and the doctor said she was ready to head home. It was an incredible relief, but a powerful lesson as well, instilling a sense of security in me after making it through such a harrowing of emergency. Of course, I now had to go back and reschedule all the many appointments and meetings I cancelled in order to tend to my daughter’s needs, which brings me to my next tip.
3) Manage Your Guilt
Every working mother will tell you the same thing: She can’t stop thinking about her baby when she’s at work, but she can’t stop thinking about work when she’s with her baby. No matter how we try to arrange our priorities or direct our focus, one way or another we just won’t feel like we’re doing enough, and you’ll feel terrible because of it. As the scientific study shows, part of this is due to the hormones that surge through a woman’s brain after her child is born, causing a variety of intense emotional reactions to various triggers. But, at the same time, part of this is also due to the inherent attitude of a multitasker, and the common problem we fall in of devoting ourselves to more tasks than we can manage.
It can be a difficult hurdle to overcome, especially for a new mother, but that only makes it all the more important to realize that your time is limited. Yes, there will be times where you will have to make sacrifices. Yes, there will be days where things just don’t go as planned. But if you’re passionate about your baby and your job, you will find not only the strength to pursue both, but the balance between the two as well. I’ll admit, such a lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and there’s no shame in that. Some people are just more business oriented than others, some feel the most comfortable when they leave the working world behind to focus on their family instead. But some others are able to find that middle ground, we are able to find joy and fulfillment with one foot in the nursery and one foot in the board room.
The important thing to remember is to give as much love to your child as you can while you can, spending quality time with them and savoring every moment of their lives. The pivotal moments you share with one another will never come back, but you can always reschedule your next meeting.
I hope these tips serve you well, if I come up with any more, I’ll be sure to share them with you in another blog.