There are five things that almost all my clients want to improve:
- morning routines
- financial security
- health and wellness
- communication with their families
- work/life balance
Most of my clients are comfortable in the role of an over-achiever. They’ve leveled up their whole lives, but now, with two full-time jobs — being a mother and running a business — they crave balance. They still want to live their best lives, but they are losing themselves in the pursuit of it all.
Is having it all truly possible?
What does work/life balance mean to you?
For most working mothers, work/life balance is part wish, part prayer for a chance to be the mother they want to be without sacrificing their career. It’s a desire to cultivate the resources and support to thrive in both roles while still maintaining a sense of self.
Think about your to-do list for a minute. It’s probably a mix of career projects, mom activities, home responsibilities, and self-care. Chances are, it stretches on and on and on, and sure, you can make progress, crossing off assignments as you complete them, but like weeds, more will pop up in their place. Probably half (or more) of the line items require many steps, emotional labor, or many stakeholders.
And how often do you find yourself pushing self-care to the bottom? Raise your hand if before the pandemic you hadn’t had a mani/pedi in 3 months or more, and currently, you can’t remember the last time you visited a salon.
You don’t have to give yourself away to be a mom or to advance in your career. You don’t have to sacrifice anything except your expectations and maybe your standards. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You may have to let go of something, but that’s always the way we make room for something better.
Step 1 — Mission, Vision, Perspective
Repeat after me: Mission. Vision. Perspective. Organizations summarize their goals and objectives in mission and vision statements. While a mission statement describes what a company wants to do now, a vision statement outlines what a company wants to be in the future. Having both serves you well as you craft strategy, allocate resources, motivate teams, and prioritize.
Likewise, articulating your mission and building a shared vision with your husband for how you want to raise children as working parents can guide you in your daily decisions by keeping you focused on the bigger picture and long-term objectives. What’s your end-goal? What’s your why? Are you on the same page?
It’s not likely that any of you aspire to merely survive and very few would say your life goal is to accomplish everything on your to-do list (although it would feel so so good!), and if your plan is to count down until the next stage or hide out until something changes, you need a new plan.
So, write it out. Do you have a mantra or a vision board? Start there. Ask yourself: How do I want to show up day-to-day as a parent and what outcome do I want for my family? Then consider how it will be impacted by your career. Or, if it’s easier for you to start with career, ask yourself: What am I working for and what outcome do I want for my career? Then consider how it will be impacted by raising children.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, and the feasibility is 100% on you. Yes, there are a million variables, but it’s your life, so these decisions are yours. While you don’t know what the future holds, you do know what you’re capable of. Write a should mission and vision statement that is authentic, feels good, and can serve as a touchstone in your decision making.
I often use quotes to keep my values front and center even as I own my ambition. I want to do big things, but my kids come first. Maybe that’s your truth too. If so, ask yourself what would it take to thrive in your business and thrive as a mother? That’s the work we must do, to find our happy places in both roles.
Having it all is equal parts appreciation and awareness; it’s a matter of perspective. You’ve got to embrace your journey and accept your season. What did you originally want and what did it take to get it? Stay in touch with that energy.
It’s so easy to get lost when you always want more — it’s seductive leveling up, acquiring new stuff, new skills, new certifications, new followers — but work/life balance takes balance. Often the pursuit of more erodes gratitude for what we’ve already achieved and it’s exhausting to always be future-focused.
Enjoy the moment. Sit in gratitude for who you are and what you’ve achieved before you sprint toward the next milestone. Celebrate your effort as you slog through an endless day. Remember how it felt to want so badly what you now have and how fortunate you are to have it.
As hard as it is, it’s a gift to have such a full life, to have enough to balance. Many women that you know, that you’ll never know, would do anything to have what you have. Never lose sight of that.
Step 2 –Focus on What Matters and Prioritize Accordingly
What matters to you is what matters. It may look different than what every other working mom aspires to or may have changed.
Consider your values, check your mission, and execute. Stay the course. Do one thing each day that moves you closer to your goals.
Research, mindset shifts, planning, and strategizing are essential, but they don’t count towards doing. Doing means writing, publishing, posting, asking for the introduction, taking the meeting, negotiating the deal, creating the art, working out, applying, putting yourself out there, going for it.
Delegate and outsource the tasks pulling you away from your zone of genius. Maximize your time, effort, energy, opportunities, and network. Get into flow fast and be present, focused on work during work time and family during family time, keeping them as discreet as possible. Do your best, celebrate often, and let the rest go, including others’ opinions of how you should be doing it.
Step 3 — Play to Your Strengths & Stay in the Zone
Whatever skills and talents have made you successful at work will benefit you as a parent, and the reverse is also true. For example, I know how to run a team. I can lead, translate the vision, inspire action, reveal others’ strengths, and motivate them to achieve beyond what they thought possible. That’s helpful when I’m trying to get my kids (or my clients) to do something.
I’m quick on my feet, adaptable, creative, can manage a budget, and prioritize with the best of them. All those things matter as head of my household and CEO of my business.
On the flip-side, I’m much more nurturing and patient as a mom than I ever was as a manager. Becoming a mom has made me more tolerant, more patient, and more understanding. I have tapped into timeless wisdom, new self-awareness and learned to enjoy downtime as much as productivity.
Now that I know, I can bring those strengths to business too.
Step 4 — Maximize Your Time by Choosing High-Return Mission-Focused Activities
First, give up perfectionism; kids and perfect don’t mix. Then choose what to do based on what moves you toward your mission. Yes, logistics are real, but how often do you use them as a way to procrastinate or as an excuse to be undisciplined?
If it doesn’t benefit you, your long-term goals, family, career, or life, why is it on the list? Why are you investing your most precious resource — time — into anything that you don’t want? Edit your commitments, calendar, and to-do list accordingly, and remove the line items that aren’t good for you.
Make room for new, better, and unexpected opportunities by eliminating distractions, energy drains, or clutter (in your mind, inbox, and home). Simplify and streamline when and where you can.
I repainted a huge old armoire for our entryway. I love it. It makes me happy because it’s pretty, useful, and I got creative while working on it. The kids keep their hats, coats, gloves, shoes, boots, and backpacks in it, which means their stuff is out of sight. But the best part is, it also makes leaving the house exponentially easier, which was the whole point.
It’s an example of a simple system that works for our family. It saves all five of us time and prevents stress and battles. Win-win-win.
What methods work for you? Consider and prioritize your daily pain points and then think of the easiest, most straightforward solutions.
If everything feels urgent or overwhelming, you’re off track. It’s a sign, simple as that. The Universe is trying to tell you that you aren’t living in alignment with your mission. Re-evaluate and try again. It’s a process.
Let it go. Save your energy for what’s important.
Step 5 — Cultivate a Village and Make it Easy for Them to Help
Use your professional project management skills to recruit others to your team. Communicate clear priorities and ensure the home team and the work team can act reliably in your absence. Document your processes, give feedback, create consistency and routines that everyone is on board with.
Please don’t keep it all in your head because then you must do it all. There won’t be progress unless you generate it, and that is too much to shoulder. Make it easy and effective for others to step in and assist, engage them in your vision, and inspire them to contribute.
Use a shared calendar and a cloud drive, and tag-team roles and responsibilities to utilize technology, manage resources, plan and strategize to maximum advantage. Automate anything that can be automated. Use routine and ritual for efficiency and comfort.
Let others help. That means your family. Are your kids able to log on to Zoom and download their work and print it, complete it, and upload it independently? If so, why do you sit next to them every day for hours during virtual school when you have an empire to build? And if not, why haven’t you taught them?
What are the things you can do today to rearrange your plate, to prioritize your time, and to prepare your family for success too?
Do you re-load the dishwasher after your husband? Or ask him to stay out of the laundry room? If you asked him to water the plants, would he know which were real and fake? You should be able to step into each other’s roles flawlessly. Yes, flawlessly.
If you’re not trusting him to X, Y, and Z, challenge yourself to put more faith in him. If he’s not doing it your way, so what? The dishwasher will still clean the dishes.
If you’re not asking as much from him as you’re giving, consider why you’ve decided that his stuff matters more than yours. Your job, your goals, your life matters just as much. That’s not only important for you to know, but for your kids to see.
Step 6 — Be Flexible and Make a Plan B
If you’re feeling forced to compromise on something that matters to you? Compromise and move on. Don’t deliberate; it wastes so much energy, and you can’t have everything you want all the time. NBD. Not everything is worthy of your full attention and full consideration.
Are you faced with hard choices? Welcome to adulthood; parenthood is life in the deep end of the pool. Consult your gut, check your heart, talk it through with your husband, and do what’s best for you and your family. Decide and trust yourself to know.
Do what you can when you can, not just in the moment, but in the long-term, in alignment with your values. When you know better, do better. Change your mind if it’s the right thing to do. Let yourself fail as evidence that you’re learning and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone occasionally.
Don’t wait for (another) crisis to implement your backup plan. Rehearse your game plan with your team to make sure everyone can execute it with or without you. Authorize grandparents to pick up and drop off, program important information into your devices, talk to your kids about what happens if your flight or school gets canceled, or daddy and mommy both must work at the same time.
Teach your kids resiliency by practicing resiliency and by demonstrating the ability to shift gears as a family and still have it work out. Is it the night before a big presentation, and the baby is up every 20 minutes? Did you forget to mend their favorite pants before school? Did your appointment get rescheduled? It happens.
Rolling with the punches is a life skill. First, try reasoning with everyone — kids are smarter and more understanding than you know, and other adults are parents too. Maybe it isn’t the biggest deal in the world.
Step 7 — Make it Easier for Others to Have it All Too
Every chance you get to reinforce your lifestyle, take it. Share the benefits, enroll advocates, promote the potential. The world can’t change until leaders change until the collective consciousness shifts. Guess what? You’re a leader, and you can influence perception.
You can make it easier for others to find balance and have it all too. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be honest and candid about your motherhood journey, the good, bad, and ugly. Be open and sincere about your career evolution, about what it took, about where you compromised, about why it was worth it. It’s a lot, and you’re not alone, and there is so much power in your story.
Leverage motherhood. See it for the journey of self-discovery and possibly, even self-actualization, that it is. Use it as a reason to thrive, embrace wellness, amp up your career, step more fully into your power, and generally kick-ass using your Mama Bear Superpowers. Live your best life. You can have it all.