Having It All, Without Having a Break-Down
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Deciding to start a family is an emotionally packed decision. However, the best life decisions are made with thought, research and planning, not just emotion. The big question in the “Mommy Wars” over the last 40 years centers around:
“Can I have it all? Can I have a successful career and be a successful mom, too?”
The answer is a resounding, “YES!” Yet, “YES!” with a caveat. You have to do your homework. Does that sound insensitive, unromantic or crass to you? A starry-eyed attitude can get you in trouble. You must plan ahead and prepare. If you think children will be in your future, now’s the time to invest in that future. Planning ahead isn’t just about preparing the perfect nursery.
- Seek family-friendly, now. Visit Working Mother’s Top 10 List of family-friendly companies at www.workingwomen.com or The National Association of Female Executives Top 30 List at www.NAFE.com. Even if you don’t choose one of these companies you now have a standard of excellence by which to evaluate your employer.
- Learn the 411 on outstanding childcare, now. 4C for Children is a fabulous resource. In Cincinnati, call (513) 221-0033; in Northern Kentucky, call (859) 781-3511 and ask for a Parent Services Counselor. You can also do your own search on their website www.4cforchildren.org. They provide education in choosing quality childcare and research options specific to your needs. The service is free.
- Negotiate with your partner, now. What will the division of labor look like? How will you share responsibility of household tasks, child rearing, finances, etc? Will equal weight be given to each partner’s work/career? Great communication now can prevent disaster down the road.
- Sharpen your skills, now. Professional associations may be the answer. They offer opportunities to stay abreast with changes in your industry, continue your professional networking, and provide fodder for your resume. Plus, they speak “Adult,” which you will need once you’re dealing with infants on a daily basis. If you don’t think so, just ask any new stay-at-home mother.
Before Returning to the Fray
- Commit to your decision. Get clarity on your choice. There will be critics, sometimes those closest to you. Be prepared to respond with assertiveness. Without clarity and conviction of your decision, guilt and defensiveness will get you.
- Redefine successful parenting. Doing everything for your child is not possible, heck, not even healthy. Terrified you’ll miss something? The reality is you will, but that doesn’t make you a bad mom. View parenting as the marathon it is. Start defining success for yourself and fight pressure to live up to some fantasy standard. Talk to parents whom you view as healthy and successful parents. They will provide a very helpful perspective.
- Remember the essentials of ESD. What can you Eliminate, Simplify or Delegate? If perfectionism of parenting, housekeeping or the workplace is your hallmark, you are doomed. It’s not just home and parenting that is at risk of perfectionism is it? One of the surest roads to career sabotage is perfectionism, too. Perhaps this new life stage will push you to set more realistic self-expectations.
- Keep your head in the game. Become laser focused at work and at home. You will be less stressed and more successful by staying in the present. Manage the tendency to worry about the other side of your life when you’re not there. It’s likely that your superiors will be watching your productivity and focus. Impress them with rededication to your job.
Finally, remember it is possible to have a great career and successful family life but only if you are willing to do some things differently. Planning ahead and preparation is the key. In the words of Confucius, “In all things, success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation, there is such to be failure.”
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: Gateway Quarter
Model: Lisa Anders