So many women (including me) find themselves unprepared for how drastically motherhood will impact their career and force them to redefine their sense of self.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was sure having a child wouldn’t affect my ambition. Sure, I’d have a kid, but it wouldn’t change who I was! And even after I quit my job during maternity leave, I searched for moments (nap time or after my daughter went to bed) to be myself, not someone’s mom. I was exhausted, yes because I was up all night taking care of a small human, but also from trying to be “the same as I was before.”
Finally, after 4 years of pregnancy and breastfeeding and running a marketing & communications business on the side, I thought I was ready to get back into the full-time work force, out of house and be a working professional again.
I threw myself into work. I took on extra assignments, worked nights and weekends. I was exhausted and stressed at home, often still working when I was there. When someone asked me about my kids in the office, it would sometimes bring me to tears. I quickly grew unhappy and the last straw when was when I got walking pneumonia that left me unable to leave the couch for months. I was so sick and tired it made me angry and short tempered with the kids. I had so little patience — it was awful. I’ve never yelled at them so much.
It made me realize that I needed to leave that job, which I did. And I took the next year to heal, both my health and my relationship with my kids. The pandemic actually helped as it forced our time to be focused on our little unit, outside of working hours.
When I talk to new moms struggling with their sense of self outside of motherhood, my heart goes out to them. There needs to be more resources to support this transition — and that’s where I come in.
Today, this is what I do to help keep myself balanced.
1. Schedule family activities.
I manage our family calendar like I do my work calendar. I look for fun activities that will create positive interactions. I like to theme events around the holidays or yearly goals, but also for a trip to a new playground or pool time. Knowing these outings are coming builds excitement and energizes all of us for fun family time, and also takes away any guilt about "me time".
2. Set realistic professional development goals.
This one has been the hardest for me as I have big dreams and I want them to happen tomorrow! But I also want to be a good mom, and I also recently decided that I’d like to enjoy the journey to achievement. So even though I still have my extensive goal list for the year, I work on taking a step toward achieving one of those goals each day. Or small steps towards many of them. Whatever works for me that day within my energy and time commitments. It helps to keep me on track but not feel overwhelmed.
3. I meditate, twice a day for 15 minutes at the beginning and mid/end day.
This quiet time helps me to look inward and recognize how I’m feeling and any adjustments I may need to make. Maybe my energy is a bit low, or my attitude is not the best or maybe it’s just a few minutes to connect with my inner mentor. It always sets me up for a good day of being a mom and an employee/boss.
If you’d like to explore the idea of motherhood, expectations of mom life while working or redefining your sense of self with little ones, reach out. Let’s start the conversation on these topics and support each other.