I’ll start by addressing the title of this, you can’t. Well, not entirely. Definitely not 24/7. BUT let’s remember millions of moms work full-time in the US alone. So it isn’t impossible, but let’s stop acting like some days aren’t a complete tsunami and tyrant of craziness. So here’s a huge high-5/hug/shot of tequila to every other mom out there who manages to get through any typical Tuesday.
Pandemic times have definitely brought motherhood into the spotlight of the careers of many women. Work-from-home life has given everyone a glimpse into the reality that we as moms live every day. I have two boys, ages 5 & 2, and I can assure you that they have brought serious humility into my professional relationships. It kind of feels like behind-the-scenes footage, except it’s into my life via webcam featuring my kids jumping on my living room couch behind me.
I must confess, I do spend a lot of time reflecting on how the heck am I going to make it through the day so I wanted to share some of my insights as inspiration for all those professional parents out there.
You can set your own expectations. According to the dictionary, balance is “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” What those correct proportions are up to you.
You can set boundaries. We know kids respond best to a set schedule when they know what to expect in their days. So carry that over to your own life. Set boundaries like times that you won’t be online and stick to it. I don’t take meetings before 8:30am and people don’t expect me to.
Please have a sense of humor. I mean it. There’s a humbling humanity in working + parenting. We’re all just people - that big client you’re meeting with? Human! So give your kids a couple of Oreos, or eight, and cross your fingers they don’t run into the frame screaming halfway through but laugh it off when it happens. Heck! Document it for TikTok!
Build your village. I recently read an article where Ursula Burns, previous CEO of Xerox, addressed the criticism she’s faced for outsourcing childcare. Who hasn't? Whether it’s your mom or a fabulous Montessori School, we all need that community support and that network to keep us afloat. You don’t need to be there all the time to be a good parent. You just have to build the right support structure.
Most important of all, be an advocate. For those parents in positions of power, you have a responsibility to create an environment where you can be a parent and a successful employee. This may show up in many ways, from ensuring a realistic and necessary maternity/paternity leave for employees, to an in-office mother’s room for pumping, to providing flexibility for parents to work from home or step out when necessary. There are A LOT of moving parts of being to parent and it is important that workplaces recognize the challenge of it all.
The system often makes it hard for women to work full-time and be a mom. In fact, a lot of the time it is even frowned upon when it really should be rejoiced. Let parents be human and give them the space to feel successful at work AND as a parent. It shouldn’t be one or the other. Employees shouldn’t feel burdened to go on maternity leave or plan their family around work.
So here’s my love letter to each and every working mom out there. You’re crushin’ it.