Last week on Instagram I posted a question to all of you career moms out there. It went something like this, "HOW?? What's the secret? I need your advice on how to be a working mama!"
My lovely readers, the support and beautiful advice you posted was the exact encouragement I needed. I can't thank you enough!
First, let's backtrack. Six months ago I had my first child, Desi. Since then it's been a (dare I use the clichéd word?) JOURNEY. I went from an all-or-nothing workaholic to an all-or-nothing momaholic to...well, to whatever it is I am now — a girl trying her best to find joy, happiness, and some semblance of balance.
It ain't easy! Some days I'm buzzing around thinking, "I CAN do it all! I'm a rockstar!" While other days I barely keep my head up long enough to drink that much needed third cup of coffee.
I have to plan like never before, but also be OK with all of those plans getting tossed out the window. I now sing all of my daily activities to Desi while thinking, "Oh my GOSH I AM SO TIRED. AM I DEAD? Is this what death FEELS LIKE??"
The quote below floats to the surface of my brain regularly. The many famous times it's been said, I don't think it was ever in reference to working moms, but it should be!
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
Isn't that exactly what we are, mamas? We feel an ache to be with our children, but also a need to nurture ourselves as autonomous adults! I love my job. I love my son. How do I make room for both? I feel like the definition of a house divided!
Balance vs. Chaos or Balance AND Chaos?
After a full weekend visiting my husband's family in Michigan, my father-in-law found me in a quiet moment early on Sunday morning. He wanted to know how I felt since starting back to work. I began mumbling about a lack of sleep and time and hygiene, and then finally said, “I feel a bit lost, actually.”
Later that evening, after thinking about that conversation all day, I realized so clearly that even though I may feel lost on how to proceed as a mom and business owner, it’s not because I am lacking. It’s because I’ve expanded my life — I have so much MORE that I care about!
I then asked those on Instagram if you had one piece of advice to offer on how to be a working mama (funny or serious), to share it in the comments. I am only including 50 of those comments here, but there are over 400. (And over 70 on Facebook.)
If you are, or have struggled with finding the balance or lack of balance in "having it all" as a working mother, I encourage you to click on this post and read through some of the comments. They have helped me embrace my "house divided" through a sense of community, togetherness, and, most importantly, love!
How to be a Working Mama: Your Advice
Reading through this list I hope you feel a little bit wiser and a whole lot stronger. We're in this together.
- When given the option to work or be a present mother, choose the latter.
- Don’t let FOMO (fear of missing out) take over… consider what really matters to you.
- I think it really just comes down to not trying to return to your pre-mom self. That person doesn't exist in the same way anymore. Not in a sad way, though.
- Talk to the people you trust and admire to get ideas and advice, but in the end, you have to do what's right for you.
- It’s OK to put family first at times, and it’s okay to put work first other times.
- Choose your battles and know the battles you choose will be different from the battles other moms choose. Choose what’s important to you, and stick to that, and be unapologetic about what works for you and your family.
- Whatever you are doing — answering an email, feeding your baby, taking a shower — do only that one thing. We all multitask to a fault. Focus on what you are doing while you are doing it.
- Make time for yourself.
- Embrace the chaos.
- Surrender to each new day. Some days are super productive, others not so much.
- Remember that you are not alone. It is not your sole responsibility to do it all.
- Keep your own interests going. It teaches your kids about being independent and following their passions, then when your kids move out, you will still have your own identity.
- Anyone who says it’s easy is lying. Anyone who makes it look easy is having a massive meltdown when no one is looking.
- Baths fix everything. For everyone. Most of the time.
- Be kind to yourself. Look in the mirror at yourself with the gushiest heart eyes and a giant dose of tenderness.
- Don’t try too hard to have it all figured out, cause it’s just going to change again!
- The feeling of being lost is very helpful for reflecting and repositioning.
- If someone close to you, preferably not a stranger offers to watch/take/babysit your bubba so you can have 5 min peace/break/coffee/cry/sleep/work...say yes please!
- It’s ok to miss things you use to have in your prior life (before kids). It’s completely normal.
- My husband and I have a “survival mode” code. Anytime work/life/everything is too much for either one of us we make decisions based on “survival mode”. That means if we don’t have the will or energy to cook, clean, or really, do much aside from work and keeping the toddler alive then who cares!
- Give yourself 15 minutes of you time a day to let your mind rest and be creative during that time.... that and dry shampoo. Dry shampoo is a lifesaver!
- Be present. Feel the love, the pain, the frustration, the pride and amazement. Feel the warm sunshine or cold breeze.
- Make sure to make your own physical and mental health a priority. Whatever that looks like.
- Allow yourself permission to say THIS IS REALLY HARD!!! Because it REALLY IS!!
- Don’t be afraid to change your mind and change your plans.
- You kind of figure it out as you go. Just keep moving forward. Oh.... and if you can't tell if it is milk or under boob sweat.... just keep your head up.
- Women CAN have it all, but maybe NOT all at the same time.
- Take time to smell the baby shampoo.
- Cherish each moment… unless the moment kinda sucks. Then just muscle through and treat yourself to a good snack.
- Babies have not read the book! They won’t know if you go rogue!
- Trust yourself.
- Be where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
- Take time to encourage your kids, even if you’re really tired.
- Buy yourself clothes that make you feel good.
- Don’t forget to love your husband even if you don’t feel like it, because someday, your kids are going to move out and you’ll be stuck with each other again!
- Screen time really is ok for everyone sometimes.
- It’s ok and normal for women to stay home or go to work while mothering and both are equally special and important. Doing both at the same time is just another version but maybe with a hint of extra chaos and humility. Lol. A beautiful mess
- Wait 3 days. Things will be different.
- You’re allowed to complain.
- Messy houses are more fun.
- Don’t judge. Also, tell other people, “don’t judge.”
- Record your memories! There will be a lot of things you wish you didn’t forget!
- It took me a while to learn that I don’t have to achieve everything I want to achieve at once. Sometimes doing it all means I’m really tired and not very nice to be around. I’d rather be nice and take a bit longer to reach my goals. The goals don’t need to change if they still inspire you....just the timeframe.
- It’s not all glamorous and happy being a mom but it’s really great raising a kid!
- I try to do something every day to make my daughters feel seen and loved.
- Remember the girl you were before you had a baby. Take care of her.
- Get out of the house at least once a day.
- Being a new parent is a shock to the system. It’s just so hard to dive into a project and do it all day like you used to be able to. You can only peck away a little at a time at something now since you have a baby that demands something new every hour. You’ll soon forget your old life. lol!
- Work life balance is 100% BS. Sometimes, being a mom comes first, sometimes the job comes first, sometimes being a wife comes first, etc. Being a working mom means living in the tension, and the tension is healthy, normal, and the only way to stay sane.
- Being a part of this mom club is the greatest membership there is, but it's also really, really, hard. It never feels like we are doing it well enough. What we need to do as women and mothers is to be kind and supportive to one another. We all stumble and we need to pick one another up and nudge each other along. We can be better moms when we are loved not judged by one another.
Spread the Love!
If you were in an elevator with a mom and her kids and it was clear that the mom was struggling, what would you say to lift her up? What would you do? Let us know in the comments and help spread the love.
In the picture below I am trying to drink a margarita while holding Desi. It's a skill I intend to master.