Today, a wide range of mothers are in the workforce for a myriad of reasons. For some, a career may be a choice, while for others a job is mandatory for fiscal survival. Each of these mothers has one major item in common, finding work-life balance.
On a quest to understand the dichotomy between family and career, I interviewed three working mothers to get firsthand accounts of balancing jobs and home life.
- Sarah, a mother of two, is running a brokerage company, BayState Business Brokers in Needham, Massachusetts.
- Robin, a mother of two, is a leading clinical social worker in Massachusetts.
- Rachel, a mother of two, works in the aerospace industry contracting for NASA in Washington, D.C.
1. What has been the most significant resource for you regarding balancing your career while also being a mother with family obligations?
- Sarah - I would say that when you are a busy mom, you should outsource as much as you can and also accept help wherever you can get it; family, friends, laundry and cleaning help.
- Robin - Having a strong support system helps me balance career and family obligations. My children's grandparents are actively involved and are always willing to be an extra set of hands.
- Rachel - May sound cheesy, but my husband is the biggest help in finding balance. It's only possible to have a full-time job and make sure the kids are the first priority if both partners share the load.
- Sarah - I have a flexible schedule, however, my day never really ends, and clients may call on the nights and weekends. Having to do meetings at night is tough since I don’t get to see my children before they go to bed.
- Robin - The biggest challenge in managing career and family is the constant overlap. At times I have to miss my children's sporting events and activities to fulfill career obligations. Sometimes I need to work on the weekends and evenings which takes from family time.
- Rachel - The biggest challenge is the lack of parental leave in this country. I took eleven weeks which is good compared to many but returned to work with zero vacation time left for my kids sick days or availability to attend their events.
- Sarah - This is SO important for my own sanity and to have a happy family! I exercise almost daily. I need that time to sweat off the stress of daily life. I also find that many moms put themselves last, and don’t take time to get a manicure, go shopping or get their hair done. I’m lucky that my husband understands that I need that time, and I also make sure he gets his time to go out with friends or play golf.
- Robin - Yes! I take exercise classes and love going for walks. Often I do these with friends, which gives me a double benefit as I am taking care of myself and having fun with friends! In addition, maintaining a social life with and without my husband is a necessity for me!
- Rachel - Probably not weekly, but I do make it part of my monthly agenda. My moms-night-out is key as it helps me de-stress and talk openly about parenthood challenges, which my friends can relate and understand.
- Sarah - Locate as many local resources as you can – babysitters, gyms with babysitting, and even other moms to carpool with or swap houses for playdates. Make time for YOU. Even if it isn’t daily then definitely weekly. Exercise, getting enough sleep and eating well helps you to feel your best and be the best for your business and family. A glass of wine at night when you are multitasking with kids, work and getting dinner on the table always helps =)
- Robin - Being empathic, focusing on my personal responsibilities, and letting others help.
- Rachel - My best advice is to try to appreciate the time for what it is; if you are at work embrace some time without the kids where you can have adult conversations. When you are home, have fun playing with the kiddos. Find the silver lining between the chaos. I know that I am lucky that I enjoy being at work and at home with my family.
- Sarah - Someone to do the laundry. Seriously! I need to carve out more one-on-one time with each child. My little one always wants my attention, which is tough for my big boy. Finding activities I can do with only them will strengthen the bond between us.
- Robin - Making better use of my time and improving communication when I feel stressed.
- Rachel - I need to fit in more time for exercise for my mental and physical health. The other thing that I need to implement is a cleaner house. Between the mad rush to get dinner on the table, and then the bedtime routine, there is very little time to clean. We are trying as a family to be better at cleaning. It's helpful that the kids love to help clean, but then less helpful when the toys look most appealing when put away, and therefore don't stay stored away very long :)
These three moms are some of hardest working people I know, while also being incredible parents and spouses. They are my mentors in many areas, but like any parent out there, they understand and feel the struggle between balancing family and career.
One consistent suggestion in each interview was enlisting help from additional resources; babysitters, cleaning assistance and backing from parents and family members. Having a regular support system may be the best benefit for any family looking to achieve more stability and harmony.
Lastly, self-care and solo time is advantageous for any parent and professional. As the saying goes, you cannot care for others if you do not care for yourself. Treat yourself as a priority as the benefits will impact your family and beyond.
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