What Career Mums Need

 

 

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Bring Back Your Joy For Life!

 

Finding Peace Between Career and Motherhood

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As a single mother the decision to work was a no-brainer for me. But, it wasn’t just because I wanted more than a pension could provide for myself and my daughter.

It was primarily because I grew up in a family where self-actualisation was a living, breathing way of life. I didn’t know anything different. To do well and then challenge yourself to do even better was such a normal thing that it later became a serious problem for me…but that’s another story.


So I totally get that for some women nurturing a career can be as important to them as their family and relationships. It’s part of who they are. The same goes for women who put-off a career to spend time raising their family or who choose not to have children at all – I get that too. These are usually choices based on personal values and beliefs.
What I want to discuss here is the notion that no matter how rational women are about their choices, there is nearly always a silent battle taking place around that choice which eventually takes its toll on many career mothers. 

 

It’s what I call the ‘layer cake’ effect. If you are a Career Mum, there is the incredible challenge of day to day activities both at home and at work. That’s the coal-face or the bottom layer. There are the practicalities of shopping, meal preparation, family relationships and getting the kids out the door for school teamed up with prioritising your work, meetings, dealing with clients and colleagues.


Quite simply it’s a big job and switching between the two worlds can mess with your brain a bit! I once turned up to a corporate meeting wearing a bottle-cap and pasta necklace I’d forgotten my daughter had put around my neck as we were leaving the house.

 

The second layer is related to how we feel about what we’re doing and this is where the real battle takes place. Attached to any choice women make about work and family comes a surreptitious layer of guilt, fear and doubt. Have I done the right thing? Am I enough? No matter how powerful your conviction is about your choice, odds are you still have this layer sneakily hidden away. We may believe we live in an enlightened culture, yet the debate about the role of women as mothers and in the workplace is still highly sensitive and continues to be powerfully influenced by persistent cultural stereotypes.

 

 "Have I done the right thing? Am I enough?"


Occasionally a third layer appears. This layer is how we feel about how we feel. Any amount of guilt, fear or doubt places you in a position where you are continually judging your own performance, often harshly. Combine this with a busy life and the tendency to put your own needs on the back burner and you start seeing even higher levels of stress and coinciding health issues. This situation generates frustration, depression and/or anxiety of varying degrees. At this level all energy becomes focused on managing and treating the resulting symptoms. Taking care of daily activities becomes even harder and the joy of career and motherhood is forgotten.

 

What Career Mothers need is Acceptance and support around their choice

There is a veritable mountain of useful information available for career mothers on meal preparation, time saving tips and working with the kids to get things done. But what is really needed is for Career Mums to receive acceptance and support - from others but even more importantly - from themselves. After all, the only person whose thoughts and actions you have any real control over is you!


Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it wasn’t until many years after my daughter was grown that I finally understood what was going on and what it was I needed to do to break down those layers so I could get back to focusing on what I wanted to do most. It takes great self-awareness and I might add some diligence to prevent old patterns reappearing, but it’s worth it to enjoy the freedom to focus on and love what you do at work and at home!

 

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