With only 24 hours in a day, how do working moms hold their position in a company or run their own businesses, raise children, and maintain their homes at the same time?
One afternoon, my neighbor—a single mother and a corporate woman—and I had a small talk while our kids were out playing in the park. She told me, “I suck at being a mom. I miss out on a lot of things because I’m always at work. I even had to take a day off just to bring them here.” Looking really tired with dark circles visible around her eyes obviously from very little sleep, she kept on rambling about how she couldn’t even get a decent haircut or a manicure because she only has very little time left in her day that she’d rather spend with her family. But when she arrives home, she becomes too occupied with the chores. She ended up comparing herself to me — how I always have time to take my 3-year-old son for afternoon walks in the park.
We’re a few of the many who struggles with balancing having a career and being a mother. One of the things I learned when I become a mom is it’s important not to compare yourself to others. Even with my high profile job in the financial sector, I still had to battle insecurities left and right.
Now, I have time to take my son for afternoon walks because I work as a freelancer—which also means income is not as stable as what a corporate job can offer. It’s one of the things I gave up when I became a mother. It wasn’t easy letting go of a job I love and worked hard for, but it’s what my family needed at that time—I had to be there to take care of my son because he will never be a child forever.
It’s important to ask yourself what matters most to you and your family. Always line up your work situation with your goals. If you want to enjoy nighttime and weekends with your family, focus on a career where you don’t have to work extended hours. It’s one thing to be a professional and a good mother, but it’s another thing to be present in both roles. When I still had my corporate job, I eventually stopped trying to find work-life balance. I recognized that sometimes, work will come first. As mothers, spending time with our children is our number one priority but sometimes, we have to put work first in order to continue providing for our family and reach the career growth we want for ourselves as well.
Finding a support network is also important—friends, family, or other working moms who understand the emotions and challenges of balancing working and parenting. Co-workers who are also parents are a great source of support, too. You can talk to them about your kids during your free time. My co-workers and I used to share videos and pictures of our children after a stressful time at work to cheer us up. We also share the struggles we have as parents. I never felt alone ever since I started building what I call my ‘support circle’.
For me, there is no right answer on how to balance career and motherhood. There will always be days where I would feel guilty for working so much and days where I would feel guilty for not working enough. I realized that I had to accept the fact that I couldn’t do everything at one time. I still hang on to my dreams of having a successful career. It would just take a longer time for me to achieve.
Lastly, if there’s one thing we don’t want to happen, it’s burnout. Be kind to yourself. It’s not easy to put yourself first, but self-care is essential. Have a bottle of wine. Take a walk. Find one thing that makes you happy and do it. Invest in your well-being until it becomes a habit. You’ll be surprised how that can make a positive shift in your life as a career-mom.