It’s no secret that working Moms still carry the load at home. Despite an increase in stay-at-home Dads from 4% in 1989 to 7% in 2016, according to PEW Research, and more men taking on larger roles at home, women are still the go-to as it relates to the kids and the household.
I asked 5 women what their biggest challenges are as Moms with demanding careers and invited them to offer their ideas on solutions.
Here’s what they said:
Katie Lance, CEO & Founder, Katie Lance Consulting
Katie Lance, her husband, Paul, and their sons, Luke and Owen
My biggest challenge is the guilt! I often feel guilty about not doing more, not being there more. When I say ‘yes’ to my business it comes at a cost to my family sometimes and vice versa. Every ‘yes’ somewhere is a ‘no’ to something else. I have learned to get better about the mom guilt and just do the best I can and focus on the quality of time – not always quantity.
I really try to have boundaries in my business – for example, I don’t travel on our birthdays. By having this firm rule – it’s one way to actionably show my kids that they truly are first for me. It’s easy to say your kids are first – but actions speak louder than words.
Robyn Loughran, Senior Marketing Manager, Proctor & Gamble
Robyn, her husband, Sean, and their son, Seany
A friend of mine recently said to me “I don’t know how you get it all done while making it look so easy!” I smiled graciously, thankful that what she was seeing on the outside didn’t mirror what I was feeling on the inside. I mean the truth is, it does all get done…work, school assignments, laundry, grocery shopping, more work. But it often means that something gets sacrificed to ensure all of the “must haves” are completed.
There were nights when I missed bath time because I stayed late at the office and the commute took longer than expected. There have been occasions where I “had” to get that last email out or finish a presentation so I sat at my desk while listening to my husband play Trouble or Candyland with my son in the background.
Truth be told, my greatest fear is that I am missing out on the special things that I should be treasuring. Time flies, every parent knows this, so I often find myself wondering if I am making the right choices. It even brings me to tears some days because I worry about having regrets later in life. The challenge for me is that my work is not a job. It is a career that I have been building for 25 years. It’s important to me and I try to excel at it. But is it all worth it if life passes me by? The $64,000 question!
What I’ve learned recently is that part of the problem is I am too hard on myself like many career moms are. I don’t have to be the best at everything to be considered an exceptional employee AND a great Mom. What I am also starting to realize is that if I prioritize, and really sit down and map it all out, I make choices that make everyone feel important.
I’ve accepted that I can’t be at or do everything. Perhaps I still miss bath time some nights but I remind myself that’s ok because I carve out other time to really be present with my son. We play baseball and soccer. I sit on the floor with him and color. We have “dance fights” and sing out loud to Kidz Bop. We cuddle on Saturday mornings. And when we are doing this, work takes a backseat because I know I’ve given it 100% of my attention when it was truly required.
It’s all about balance and being honest with myself about what’s really a “must do” vs. me (yes me) putting unnecessary pressure on myself. It took a long time to get here and I still have days where I question myself. But if I can help other Mom’s, here are some tips that work for me:
Put things in the proper perspective – will the world keep spinning if I don’t send that email until tomorrow?
Have honest & transparent conversations with people at work – they don’t know what you have on your plate unless you tell them. It’s ok to ask for help or push back.
Take advantage of what our modern world has to offer to make your life easier – have your tried Shipt to have your groceries delivered? You just got time back with your family.
Take vacations and leave work behind – make memories and be present because work will be waiting for you when you get back (and you’ll still be just as important and valuable as you were before you left).
Have a glass of wine and take time to relax – you deserve it!
But mostly, be kind to yourself because you are doing the best you can and probably way better than you think!
Erin O’Brien Lovering, Head of HR, Fidelity Healthcare and Advanced Processing
Erin Lovering, her husband, Mike, and their daughters, Mia, Molly, and Maggie
My 4 biggest challenges are:
Learning that despite all the well-intended planning I do, some days just aren’t going to go right at home AND work and it’s ok. I try to stay positive and don’t assume the whole week will be like this. Tomorrow is a new day. And remember to be grateful when everything does go according to plan!
Learning to be fully present and intentional with my time- focusing on work when I’m at work and focusing on home when I’m at home. I’ve come to realize that “blending” to some degree is ok but limit it. For example, I’ll book 30 or 45 minutes in my work calendar to use for personal things like booking teacher conferences, signing up for sports events, calling or emailing people for their birthday or anniversary. Then, I put my phone and laptop away when I’m at home so I can fully focus on hearing about their day, helping with homework, and then set time to check back in once all are settled.
Learning to NOT feel guilty about loving my job. I think it’s important to teach my kids the importance of loving what you do. I always say to them “I’m lucky that I love my job…but I don’t love it more than being your mom”.
Making time for me (i.e. exercise) and date-time for me and my husband. I’ve never been great at either. Because of working mother’s guilt, I try and focus on my kids when I’m not at work…which means I de-prioritize exercise and also committing to date nights. A solution might be to book exercise time in my calendar 2 times during the week and treat it like a meeting that I can’t move. Do the same for date nights.
I think the challenge is staying positive and having the energy for both demanding roles, with very little downtime. Having a spouse who is on the same page is absolutely critical. We split daycare drop off duties, agreed on how we would get family time in, etc. In recent years we decided to have Mike stay home for a few years which was never our plan but the opportunity presented itself so we agreed it would be good for a few years. It has been – definitely more good days than bad but it’s an adjustment for sure.
Shannon Lyman, National Sales Manager, Rapid Diagnostics, Abbott Laboratories
Shannon Lyman, her husband, Craig, and their sons, Blake and Chace
Want to be a good Mom? Take care of yourself.
A mentor shared those precious words with me on 5/16/11, and I have never looked back. I remember that day so vividly. It was my 1st day back at work after my first maternity leave. I woke up with an empty pit in my stomach and burdened with so much guilt. How was I supposed to hand my son over to another woman to care for him while I went back to work? How was I supposed to concentrate and perform at work, knowing my son was being cared for by someone other than me? It seemed like a lose/lose situation. I was losing as a Mom and I was losing at the expense of my career. Or so it seemed on that day.
My mentor at the time, who was also a working Mom, called to check on me my 1st day back. After several minutes of tears, expressing my fears of being a failure and abandoning my Son; she asked me that simple question. “Do you want to be a good Mom?”
Taking care of yourself looks different for everyone. For me personally, it means making sure I continue to fulfill my passions and professional goals in addition to being there for my family. Financially, I need to work. Personally, I need to work. It makes me a better mom and wife.
I have set clear boundaries. I value and appreciate the time away from work when I am with my boys and husband that much more. I give them ME. I am not perfect, but I strive to give them uninterrupted time with little to no distractions. I have 2 phones. The work phone does NOT come with me after working hours, on weekends or on vacations. I have been very transparent with my employers over the years, that that is non-negotiable for me. Of course, there are rare circumstances, but this is what I try to adhere to.
In my current role, I do not have to travel much. On average, I am gone 2-3 nights a month. Quite frankly, those 2-3 nights are a blessing for all of us. My boys usually get extra ice cream and watching sports time with Dad, I get to read a book (gasp), watch what I want on tv, eat room service, workout or just catch up on work and/or sleep. It is hard to say goodbye, but it is so awesome to say hello/welcome home, and Facetime helps.
I do not feel guilty that I have a career. I am setting a strong example of work ethic for my boys. I have learned to leverage my career into strengths that benefit myself, my family and my employer. I truly appreciate my personal time and how invaluable it is. I cherish it. And I also value my time away from my home, in the workplace. Because it makes me appreciate everything I have been blessed with thus far in life.
Take care of yourself. You and your loved ones are worth it!
Emily Russo, VP, Director of Marketing and Communications, Athena Capital Advisors
Emily Russo, her husband, Charlie, their daughter, Evelyn, and son, Christopher
I find that it’s not so much the week that is most challenging to juggle, but the weekend. It’s a constant battle to cram family fun time, getting together with friends and family, household catch up, and whatever little “me time” might be available in just two short days.
I learned to let go of a lot of things I “should” be doing as the mom and look for ways to outsource wherever I can. There is no shame in my outsource game. From Amazon subscribe n’ save (who has time to go to Target for diapers every month??) to grocery delivery, I’m always on the hunt to save time. I even hired our babysitter to bake all kinds of muffins and breakfast items that I stash in the freezer so we have healthy meals that are easy to pack in the kid’s lunches.
One other item I’ve found helpful in alleviating (some) of the guilt in balancing work and family is showing enthusiasm for what I choose to do. Truth is, I enjoy working. I feel valued for what I do in the office and I like contributing financially to our family. But I realized a while back that my daughter, Evelyn, was picking up on my mommy guilt and seemed upset about having to go off to daycare. I started changing my attitude and my words and explained with enthusiasm exactly why I enjoy working and compared it to her favorite activities at school. I also started playing tennis this summer, and she could tell I was sooo excited to play that she would cheer me on whenever I headed out the door.
Kids really do pick up on our emotions and words and when I am authentically excited about how I choose to spend my time, Evelyn is one of my biggest supporters, and I feel better knowing that she understands why it’s important for me to work and find activities that I genuinely enjoy.
What challenges do you have? I’d love to know. Leave a comment below.
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