Long story short? I had a baby. I spent six blissful months at home with her. I returned to work. I hated it and cried myself to sleep every single night. I became a stay-at-home mom again. I built my own business from my home office. Which propelled me back into full-time working mom mode more quickly than you can say "there are not enough hours in the day."
Only now, things are a bit different. I am not working for another company or large corporation. I am working for myself. I launched my own business. It's doing pretty well, if I do say so myself. But all of the pressure is on my shoulders. No one is handing me a biweekly paycheck. No one has offered to foot the bill for my health insurance like back in the day. If I don't hustle, I don't make money -- end of story.
But if I don't also commit a pretty solid amount of time in my day to my daughter, none of the money is even worth it. So what's a girl do to? Drive herself nuts? Kind of -- but a good kind of nuts. An empowered sort of crazy. The kind that comes with finally getting a grip on life, finding a way to stay organized, and tackle all of your daily challenges with a smile on your face (even if it's a fake one). Because it's all part of the process - and you can't really figure it out until you've been faced with the hell that is a cancelled babysitter twenty minutes before one the biggest meetings of your career.
That's right, I have somehow found how to combine being a #bossbabe with being a #bossmom, which in its own right, is a marriage of sorts. And lord if it isn't as difficult as the other kind of marriage (you know I'm right). Because in all honesty, the real secret to the finding your success in working mom life is the same one that comes from marriage...
Say it with me now ... COMPROMISE.
For example -- I often compromise my nightly television time to fit in the work I put aside when my daughter gets home from her half-day at camp. That way, all of my attention can be focused on her until she goes to sleep, and then I can delve guiltlessly back into my work.
It's hard. Sometimes my body is just screaming out for some horizontal Housewives of New Jersey television time. But sometimes, it's a matter of taking a step back and figuring out what will make you feel the most accomplished tomorrow. What will take a little bit of the load off of your overfilled plate. What will help you lay your head on your pillow at night feeling as if you did the best you could -- for your child AND your business.
Aside from compromise on all levels, here are my tips for working moms to feel like they are winning at life.
5. Ask for help.
The second any mother realizes that they would be just a little bit better off with an extra set of hands, is the day your life will change. I'm not saying go out and hire a full-time nanny - though sometimes I wish I could. But know who you can count on and call upon in those moments of despair, when your sitter cancels on you last minute and your make-or-break business meeting is just minutes away. If you are in a marriage or relationship with another adult under your roof, be open to asking for certain blocks of time where you can use two hands on your laptop, without a child trying to bang away on your keyboard (I speak from experience).
4. Get Organized
Whether it's a regular old paper-and-pen to-do list or a whiteboard tacked up on your fridge, make a commitment to getting organized. Spend some time at the end of the weekend allotting just enough work time to hit your deadlines or goals, and plan out the kid's schedule as well. If your job regularly involves time with clients, or scheduled conference calls, make sure to set blocks of time aside (with room for error) to take care of these needs instead of scattering appointments throughout your day. The day I began limiting my meetings to two days per week and allotting the rest of my time for actual work, my life changed, my afternoons magically lightened up for my child, and I felt more accomplished over all.
3. Have a sense of humor!
...and be realistic. There are days that will you feel as if you are walking on water. Days where your accomplishments will come coupled with a hair flip and a finger snap. And days where you'll feel like a failure. And want to cry. And throw in the towel. And just say screw it and crawl into your child's IKEA tent with a bowl of goldfish and sing the ABC's over and over again (like I said, I speak from experience). But if you can't have a sense of humor about the very-skilled dance you have begun to do, then it will be a much rougher road for you. Learn to laugh at yourself. Learn to grow from your mistakes. Don't take yourself too seriously. And don't be afraid to ensure yourself that tomorrow will be a better day.
2. Just say no.
The first thing any working mother realizes once they enter their new world of too many responsibilities, is that if you think you can tackle every single thing, you will quickly burn out. Don't be afraid to say no to plans that make you feel overwhelmed or will infringe on the great work flow you've got going at that moment. Don't be hesitant to blow off a playdate to spend some quality one-on-one time with your children. Don't be afraid to say no - to anyone, at anytime. Know your limits, and set your boundaries.
1. Make time for YOU.
Just like they tell us on the airplane, in case of emergency, put the air mask on yourself before attempting to help anyone else. As mother's we all know that the bulk of the daily responsibilities and burdens that come with taking care of a home and children tend to fall more or our shoulders than anyone else's. Throw a job into the mix and it can sometimes feel like it's hard to breathe. But you have to breathe -- because if you run out of steam, how can you give to anyone else?
When you organize your calendar for the week, make sure you set aside a chunk of time every week that is dedicated solely to yourself. Read a new book. Call an old friend. Heck, get a freakin' manicure. You've earned it mama.
"Definitely schedule that 'me' time in," suggests Emily Kapit, a 3X Certified Master Resume Writer, the head of ReFresh Your Step, a career advisory firm, as well as mom to a toddler. "It's so easy to allow yourself to get lost in the haze of running a company and handling kids. You, your business, and your children will thrive when you give yourself a much-needed timeout."
Because you're a working mom, and you're already winning at life.