Many of you know that I went back to Corporate America after being self-employed for eight years. What many of you may not know, however, is that the transition has been difficult at times. As much as I enjoy working as a Director of Social Media for a local radio station (as well as the bi-weekly paychecks that are consistent), I do miss running my empire all day, and not just between my working hours. It’s been hard trying to juggle everything, and yet, I remain optimistic about my future and about my career and business.
Because something worth having is something worth fighting for. They never said it would be easy, and God knows that this last year, I have been trying to find my groove between my job and my business. The truth is, however, that as a working mom, I will always be trying to find my center. Once I understood that, things, while difficult, remained understood. My old way of doing things wasn’t going to cut it this go ’round. If I wanted to be successful at both, I had to relearn a few things, because old ways don’t open new doors.
The old me wanted (and longed for) perfection. I needed lists with all of the items checked off. I couldn’t go to sleep at night until everything was resolved. The thing this—working a 9 to 5 and then running a business is not a math equation—it’s an art. Where math always gives you the same answer, art is subjective. What can be pretty to you may not be pretty to me and vice versa. Art is personal, it’s an experience, and can be a series of things. It’s abstract and ever-changing. Instead of looking at being a working mom as a math equation, I started looking at it as being an art form.
Some days, my art is majestic and worthy of applause, and other days, it’s straight up trash. The goal is to do my best, but not worry if I don’t always color inside the lines or use the colors like they are in the box. I can mix and match and shake things up a little. I can be free to be me and my best self when I can, and when I can’t, I can also decide to be vulnerable without having to give an explanation.
What I am about to say next is HUGE so please take it all the way in: this working mom thing isn’t something that is comparative—my story isn’t going to be yours, and your outcomes won’t be the same as mine. We can be free to be our individual selves while being a part of a huge community of working moms, who all dance to their own groove. I think where a lot of us get caught up is that we are all trying to dance like the so-called expert and best dancer in the room. In art, there are no experts. Art is in the beauty of the beholder.
Relearning these things and retooling my mindset and how I went about things has been a journey, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Now that I am a year into my role at my job, I see things so much clearer. I was too busy trying to create my secret sauce that I didn’t take a chance to taste and savor it.
Working mamas, old ways won’t open new doors. Here are a few tips to help you relaunch your working motherhood so that you can be better fulfilled:
Squad on speed dial
Having a support system in this working mom life thing is everything. And I am not just talking about folk who will tell you what you want to hear. If you have too many people in your corner giving you props and high-fiving you without giving you constructive criticism (because none of us have all the answers, Sway), then you may need new people.
Tap into a network that can give you both the good and bad news. People who will correct you when you need them to, and who can tell is like it is, straight no-chaser. They can be your sounding board, peanut gallery, and hype team, while helping you through this thing called working mom life.
Make your happiness center
You will hear some “pundits” say that it is selfish to think of yourself first. They are wrong. I do not regret putting myself first and making sure my needs are met. This does not mean that I neglect my family. It means that in order to help them and be the best for them, I have to do what’s best for me. Happiness is at the center of everything I do. If the end result isn’t one that gives me happy feelings (unless it’s a doctor checkup, a bill payment, or something blah like that), I don’t do it. I don’t work hard to be unhappy. Neither should you.
Don’t keep score
You may have forgotten to sign that permission slip last week, or let your child’s school lunch account get too low. Stuff happens. Don’t keep a list of all of the things you did wrong this week or this month or this year. Should you do better and try not to forget these important things—well, of course. But don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t let it stress you out. Try to come up with better systems and move forward.
Allow for bad days
Bad days are gonna happen, and that is just a part of life. Like snow days are built into your child’s school schedule, allow for bad days in yours. Chalk them up to Mercury Retrograde, or stepping on that crack on the sidewalk, or bad vibes, or—whatever. Then move forward. Bad days make for good days and make you enjoy them that much more.
Let your kids grade you
We are doing a lot better than we think we are! Kids are super honest and they will tell you if you suck or not. I remember one time I not too long ago, I kept forgetting things and misplacing items around the house and I looked at my daughter and said something like, “I know, I am not leading by a good example” and she got me straight. She told me that despite the fact that I tend to lose things, I am a good leader and have shown her how to do so many great things and my heart smiled. Here I was really giving myself a bad time, but my daughter saw how much I’ve helped her, and that trumped my penchant for losing things.
Look, I am not trying to paint a picture of all is right in the world. Motherhood is a tricky thing and pairing that with a career and a profession isn’t for the faint of heart. Being a working mom isn’t a math equation where you get the same answer each time. It’s an art, and art is subjective and the answer may vary. At some point, you have to learn to do YOU.
Open new doors and create new ways to get through it all. Those new doors will open us up to a world that is a little more forgiving than we are.
Photos shot by Chip Dizard