Top ten surprises of life as a working mother

Here’s a list of ten surprises for working mothers, in honour of parenting for 11 years as of this week!

Much of these are familiar to any working mother but we all love a list so here we go, in list form!

1. It is always changing

As soon as you have it figured out the kids change and circumstances change. It is the one truth I think is most surprising- no solution lasts for too long. As soon as things are worked out we get a client who is across town or a client that likes early mornings and we have to change our routine and find a new solution.

2. Days are long but years are short

It’s a classic but it describes parenting like no other.
I laughed out loud at another version that one working father of two kids under
three years of age said “the weekend is longer than the week”.

3. It’s tough on a marriage

People have babies to bring them closer together. It’s a
romantic next step in our love story or life story but the reality is a little
bleaker. There’s nothing romantic or passionate about every conversation you
have with your spouse revolving around domestic tasks, children, schedules and
to do lists. It isn’t easy but there becomes a need for intention. The
intention to discuss what you are passionate about with your spouse, likely
away from the children.

4. It’s tough on a career

For working mothers, we know this before we take the leap. Competing priorities & demands on time are obvious challenges. There’s no such thing as work-life balance but when you understand your priorities & you find a passionate career you might find an equilibrium that works for all of you.

5. Put your oxygen mask on first

You need to have time for self-care. Time for a girls night out, a good book, exercise or whatever is authentic to you. Your love for your children is overwhelming. There is no way to describe it if you don’t have children. Your guilt can be matching. As a result of all the love and all the guilt it can feel natural to put yourself last. No one wins when working mothers do this.

6. It comes down to priorities

They learn from what you do & what you show them you value. For me this means finding a job & career that you love and showing the boys the value of hard work. It’s about priorities. If this was a list of one it would be set and revisit your priorities and let your actions and life mirror those. No difference between our personal strategy and KPIs and milestones than what you’d set up at work in a business plan. Set it, measure it, reflect/revisit but most important take action and do it!

7. It is not all intuitive

There are so many times you find yourself not being conscious & instead enabling them, helping them & spoiling them. It’s the easy way. It’s the safe way. Our generation is much worse in this regard than those before us. Likely because we have less children, we have them when we are older & we spend more time with them. (Studies show this even with two working parents!). But at the end of the day the goal is an independent productive global citizen. Not a happy person, you can’t develop that for them. Not a friend, their life is much bigger than a relationship with you. Not a life with no risk, as that increases their future risk of anxiety & mental health disorders. So let them be independent with you as their safety net. Let them be productive with you as their coach. Let them be a citizen of this world while you are there to offer a hand when they tumble.

8. You are the adult

They might hurt your feelings. You might not like them
some days. You might want to rage, some days you will. But you are the adult so
it’s your job to empathize. It’s your job to admit your mistakes. It’s your job
to apologize. It’s your job to be affectionate. It’s your job to show them that
love survives, even thrives beyond conflict, unease and moments of dislike. You
are the adult and their role model.

9. It takes a village

Connection is at the intersection of health &
longevity, success and happiness. Deep personal relationships are key to our
personal life and career so don’t stand in the way of your kids developing
those connections. It takes a village to care & raise for a child & we
have not set up our society in a way that enables that but when the opportunity
is there we should take advantage of it.

10. Get help, take help

Similarly, there are no heros or rewards for martyrs. If your spouse can help, let him. If the kids can assist, encourage it. And where you can outsource it and spend your time on your priorities do it. Quality time with the kids or on the self-care you need or the career you deserve is likely worth what you’ll pay someone else to get it done. You work hard & you deserve it so get help.

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