I wrote a post last week asking working mothers what they struggle with most. It got nearly 200 responses, I couldn't keep up. As the responses started to roll in and I got chance to read them all, I noticed they fell into three main themes:
Time and focus
Finances and childcare costs
All three things are part of a huge cycle that sends working mothers round in a loop, stopping them from making progress and sapping energy and motivation. It goes like this... If I work, I feel guilty that I should be spending time with my kids, if I just spend time with my kids I feel I'm missing out on a big part of what life has to offer. Childcare costs make it feel as though there's no point anyway. No one is happy, least of all me.
Was I surprised? Not particularly, but I was surprised by the general tone of the posts. I felt they were resigned to their fate, they'd given up trying to find a way out. This was how it was going to be now they had kids.
I've read a lot about how to be a successful working mother. It's what I do at the end of the day so I need to know all of the different perspectives out there. Nowhere can I find a single piece of advice that advises women to just give up and go home. But it also feels like a lot of the good advice out there isn't getting through. If you've decided to make a success of your business or career as well as being a great mum then you've got to take it seriously. And DROP THE EXCUSES.
One of my absolute favourite books on the subject of being a working mum is Laura Vanderkam's - I know how she does it. In it, she says 'No one gets a perfect life. Not people who stay home with their children, not those who are married or not married, not those who have kids or don't have kids'. The message is clear, drop the unrealistic expectations and get on with it.
The trouble is, once you've got yourself into this sort of cycle of thinking, it's very easy to stay there, blaming each thing in turn as you continue to struggle on all fronts. So here are my top 4 tips on how to take control, drop those old excuses and get back on top of your business or career.
Start with why
I want you to remind yourself of why you're doing what you're doing and keep it front of mind. Write it somewhere so you see it every day. If you're setting up your own business because you want to be a good role model or create a legacy for your children, then say it out loud. If you can't find a reason why you're doing what you're doing, then ask yourself whether you should be doing it at all - there is always, always a different way.
Ditch the mum guilt
Ditch it now. There are a million different reasons why it’s good for your children to see you doing well at work. Children need sustenance, structure, consistency, love and security. Children don’t remember every waking hour, they remember the rituals and routines you set up for them. They remember family holidays and good times spent together and their emotional wellbeing is driven by a sense that they will be listened to, loved and cared for. Really ask yourself where the mum guilt is coming from, if it’s outside, ask why you care. If it’s inside, ask yourself if it’s guilt or just a desire to spend more time with your kids. If it’s the latter, then find ways to do that.
Make the most of your time
Getting clear on why you're doing what you're doing and ditching the mental fog that mum guilt was causing should give you renewed clarity and focus. Remember, there are emotions that fuel you and emotions that drain you. Allowing yourself to feel guilty will drain vital resources that you need to be a success. Try and focus on what it is you're creating - money, fulfilment, security, a life! And pay attention to the way you feel when you spend quality time with your family. You are going to tune in to these feelings and use them as fuel. Set goals, block time, create a sense of progress that develops into consistent momentum and take time to review how far you've come.
Invest and grow
It's time to stop making excuses. Think of your business or career in terms of where you want to get to and work back from there making decisions based on that, not where you are now. Think of childcare as an investment and reinvest again and again in the best you can afford. To build a business or career you need time. If you work for yourself think about yourself as your employer and think how you can create time to 'go to work'. If you really don’t have the money, get creative about childcare. Look for a nanny share, look for a gym membership with a crèche, offer a childcare swap to another friend with kids. I even heard of one woman who took her kids to Ikea, stuck them in the free crèche and went to the café to work. If you want it, find a way - remember NO EXCUSES.
Over the next 4 weeks, I'm planning a deep dive into each of these areas to share my best insights and dissect the best advice out there to help you to free yourself from the shackles that are holding you back.
If you're reading this and thinking, 'yes but I need some help to get there' then you're in the right place... book a 30 minute call with me and we can discuss what's holding you back