There are five things that almost all my clients want to improve —
- morning routines
- financial status
- health and wellness
- communication with their families
- work/life balance.
Most of my clients are comfortable in the role of 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 too. They have so much on their plates and still, they 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 women, it’s a wish or a 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 mixture 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 things on the list require a lot of steps, emotional labor, or many stakeholders.
And how often do you find yourself pushing self-care to the bottom? Raise your hand if you haven’t gotten a mani/pedi in 3 months or more, or if when you take your ponytail/messy bun out, you see too many grays because you rescheduled your color, highlight, cut again.
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, 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.
You’ll still be you — amazing and ambitious as ever — following your dreams and enjoying your journey. But how? C’mon Coach, what are the actual steps? Here are seven that can make a difference now.
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?
It’s not likely that any of you aspire to merely survive, very few of you 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. You want to live! Do stuff, see things, go places, love your people, achieve your ambitions, maximize your life, be the best mom you can be.
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. You know what you’re capable of. What you write should capture your mission and vision succinctly, be authentic, feel good, and serve as a touchstone in your decision making.
My vision is to “use my writing and coaching to grow my business, to build a legacy for my family, to make the world a better place, and to provide options we never thought possible, while being a mom first, never losing sight of how fleeting childhood is, keeping in mind that my children are the reason I was inspired to start my company in the first place”.
The days are long, but the years are short, and I will never have this moment with my children again. They are Gretchen Rubin and Jen Hatmaker quotes and a constant refrain that I use 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. Perhaps not. Either way, that’s ok. But if you’re not ok, meaning you don’t love both roles, 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 your happy place 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; welcome your season. What did you want and what did it take to get here? 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 tough always to be future-focused. Be here now. Love what you have. Love who you love.
Sit in gratitude for who you are and what you’ve achieved before you sprint toward the next milestone. Take it in again 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 finally.
It’s a gift to have such a full life, to have something to balance. Many women that you know, that you’ll never know, that have gone before you, and that will come after you 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 to you. You should know what that is. It’s alright if it changes. It may look different than what every other working mom aspires to. It may work for your family and your family alone. It’s not about anyone else. Your life is your life, and the way to live with no regrets is to know what you want and go for that. 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 in this sense means writing, publishing, posting, asking for the introduction, taking the meeting, creating the thing, working out, applying, putting yourself out there.
Delegate and outsource what’s pulling you away from your highest self. Anticipate, factor in disruptions, create room for unplanned surprises, and work when it’s best for you, most advantageous, when you are at your best, at your ideal productivity, when you can get in the zone and knock it out.
Maximize your time, effort, energy, opportunities and network. Get into flow fast and be present where you are, focused on work during work time and family during family time, keeping them as discrete as possible. Do your best, honor your efforts, 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 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.
On the flip-side, I’m much more nurturing and patient as a mom than I ever was as a manager. I’m more tolerant, have re-tapped the wisdom of my femininity, and have learned to enjoy downtime as much as productivity. Now that I know, I can bring those strengths to my clients 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 helps you achieve your mission. Yes, logistics are real, but how often do you use them as a way to procrastinate (I know I have that project due, but it’s been so long since I cleaned out the kids closets…meanwhile, six hours later…) or as an excuse to be undisciplined (Yes we need to reevaluate our budget, but I think I’ll just charge this one little thing and sort it out later).
If it doesn’t benefit you, your long-term goals, your family, your career, or your life, why is on the list? Why are you investing your most precious resource — time — into it? Edit your commitments, calendar, and to-do list and remove the line items that aren’t good for you, the business, or the family. You’ll have to be discerning, disciplined, and self-aware.
Make room for new, better, and unexpected opportunities by eliminating mindless distractions, things that just don’t feel good, or clutter (in your mind, inbox, and your home). Simplify and streamline when and where you can.
I repainted a gigantic old armoire for our entryway. I love it. It makes me happy because it’s pretty, I got to be creative while working on it, it stores all three of my kids’ hats, coats, gloves, shoes, boots, and backpacks, and it keeps their stuff out of sight and from piling up by the front door. But the best part is, it also makes leaving the house exponentially easier which was the whole point.
We don’t have a mudroom and looking for everything everywhere every day was making all of us crazy. That’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.
What methods work for you? Consider and prioritize your pain points and then think of the easiest most obvious ways to fix them, then do that.
Finally, if everything feels urgent, truly, you feel like your hair is on fire and you are up to your eyeballs in must-dos, you’re off track. It’s a sign, simple as that. The Universe is trying to tell you that your foundation isn’t strong enough, your systems aren’t working, you haven’t automated enough, you aren’t meeting your needs, or you aren’t living in alignment with your mission. Re-evaluate and try again. It’s a process.
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.
Don’t keep it all in your head because then you must do it all. There will be no progress unless you generate it and that is too much to shoulder, even if you’re awesome, and you probably are. 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 husband. 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 as anyone else’s. You matter. That’s not only important for you to know, but for your kids to see. Even if you aren’t saying it, they are picking it up through your actions and compromises.
Step 6 — Be Flexible and Make a Plan B
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.
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 sometimes. If you’re not failing occasionally, you’re not pushing yourself out of your comfort zone often enough.
Don’t wait for a 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 you and drop off, program important information into your devices, talk to your kids about what happens if your flight gets canceled, or daddy and mommy both must be out of town 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 you miss your flight? Did your hotel reservation get canceled? Wait, you thought hubby was picking up after school, but it was your turn? It happens. This too shall pass.
First, try reasoning with everyone — kids are smarter and more understanding than you know, and other adults are parents too. Maybe you can reschedule. Perhaps someone else can cover. Maybe it isn’t the biggest deal in the world if you blow it.
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 now, 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, the good, bad, and ugly. It is a lot, and you’re not alone, and there is power in your story.
Use your ambition to 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. That’s having it all.