There is a conversation I had with a manager a few months after I returned to work (post baby) that has stayed with me, stuck in my mind. The manager asked me why I worked part-time and I told her it was because I was looking for the best of both worlds: to be both a professional AND a mum. She confessed to me that after she had started her family she felt she couldn’t be both a good manager AND a good mum. So she had decided to be a good manager.
In that moment I felt sad that she truly believed she could not be good at both. I guarantee you that part of what makes her a good manager is that she is a mum and part of what makes her a good mum is being a manager. I also understood that being a manager demanded at least 40 hours of her time each week, in an organisation that supported flexible working arrangements. It was then that I vowed to find a way to have a work/life balance that fulfilled my aspirations as a mother and a career woman.
It is part of the reason I wrote my free ebook Undercover Mum. I want to empower new mums to find their own work/life balance and NOT sacrifice being a mum in exchange for a meaningful career NOR sacrifice a meaningful career to be a mum. I believe women can have BOTH.
Women have been trying to ‘have it all’ for years and many have decided that they can’t. It is the unattainable holy grail of the corporate world. That really depends on what you define as ‘having it all’. Most of the ‘trying to have it all’ comes from women working in the corporate sector with their sights set on climbing the corporate ladder to the top.
The reality of the corporate ladder is that the higher you are the more demands, particularly time, are placed on you. This is why so many women who dreamt of becoming the CEO of an organisation are starting up their own businesses. To honour their career aspirations and also fulfil their needs as a mum.
Regardless of how much time you spend with your children you are a working mum. But how many corporate mums wish they could spend MORE time with their children? And how many will live to regret the precious time they lost with their children due to work?
And while some women are still trying to have it all in the corporate world, female entrepreneurs are taking the global economy by storm. And it’s easy to see why. Women have adapted and found a way to have meaningful financially supportive careers AND spend time with their children. Some have childcare support, others don’t.
There is a paradigm shift slowly happening in the working mum space. There needs to be a large mindset shift from career versus children to career AND children. Why shouldn’t women be able to have both? And this mindset shift is already happening among working mums, as so many of them exit the corporate world searching for truly flexible work arrangements.
This mindset shift needs to happen among corporate employers and organisations to retain the talent of working mums in a manner that facilitates flexible working arrangements at all levels, especially management. Otherwise the corporate world will be less diverse and represented by men, childless women and working mums who have sacrificed part of their motherhood for their career.
Believe you can have both a career AND a family and find a way to make it happen.
Stop trying to do it all at once. There are many ways of having a career and a family with a work/life balance that works for your family and doesn’t result in burnout, stress, resentment and exhaustion.