Being a working mom can add a lot of pressure to a woman’s already hectic life. Survey results conducted by the Pew Research Center reveal that there are a lot more working moms in the world today than ever before. They also discovered about the working mom: moms are more educated now than ever before, the majority of women with a young child are in the workforce, and more mothers than ever are serving as the “breadwinner” of the family.
When I conduct my own surveys, most working moms say that there is a ton of pressure on them to be an involved mother, to climb the corporate ladder, to seek equal pay, and maintain some sense of normalcy for themselves. There is no wonder that we burn the candle at both ends and feel utterly overwhelmed by trying to pull it all together to make it happen.
While we are here, should we talk about the guilt we often feel when we are at work, thinking about our child? Or at home thinking about all of the tasks that we need to complete at work? Mom-guilt is a real thing.
The truth is that motherhood is everything and nothing you would expect. It is the hardest and most rewarding role I could ever dream of. I could have never been prepared for what lay ahead for me as a mom, let alone being a working mom. But here I am, a working mom for 13 years. And here are some of the things that I wish someone would have told me when I was a young, new mom attempting to balance motherhood and a career.
20 Things I Wish I Had Known About Being a Working Mom
1. You will be exhausted.
Everyday! This is not a little bit tired. This is the I-need-4-cups-of-coffee-to-make-it-to-5:00 p.m. exhausted. Just know that eventually, you will sleep again. I promise.
2. People will notice said exhaustion.
People at work will actually say out loud, “You look so tired.” I am not even joking. Here’s the thing, when a fellow working mom says it, you will be comforted by the caring tone in her voice and sincere look in her eyes. When it comes from anyone else who has gotten 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, your head will spin, and your nonverbal communication will be loud and frightening. Most workplaces do frown upon physical violence, however!
3. Mondays won’t be so bad.
You will actually look forward to Monday mornings. Seriously, after chasing around your children all weekend, you will welcome a break from having to respond to “Mom,” “Mommy,” “Mama!”
4. Then again . . .
But, come Monday at 5:00, you will not be able to stand the time you’ve spent apart from your precious little one. You will race out of the door to pick them up just to hear their sweet voice say, “Mommmmmmmmy!” And just wait until Friday at 5:00, it is the ultimate joy!
5. You’ll understand mental health days.
You will call in and claim a sick day just so that you can be in your house all alone. You’ll miss the days before children when you could actually binge-watch your favorite show and veg out all day. Do it! You deserve the break.
6. Mind ya business, Karen.
Some of your officemates will give you the stink eye when you head out early to tend to your family business; pay them no mind and do it anyway.
7. You’ll become a pro at “doing it all.”
People will ask you, “How do you do it all?” You won’t have an answer because, truly, no one knows how they do it all; you just do it. It’s okay to say, “I have no idea.” No one is winning an award for “doing it all.”
8. Sway, sway, sway.
Work/life balance is a myth. There is no balance. I call it “Sway.” Some days you sway more towards work. Some days you sway more towards life. You have to figure out your own rhythm.
9. Meeting schmeeting.
The first time the daycare calls to tell you that your precious baby is running a fever, you will rush out of that oh-so-important meeting like nobody’s business and actually consider driving with your hazard lights on with a police escort.
10. You’ll change your mind a million times.
When number 9 happens, you will cry all the way home, wishing you never had to work again. This, too, shall pass. After a while, you will load them up on Tylenol so that you can mask the fever just for a few hours. Why? Because you have a deadline.
11. You’ll bond with people in new ways.
Your coworkers will become your friend, counselor, and lunch buddy. You will bond with some of the most incredible people you have ever met. And here’s the best part: they will forever be a part of your life.
12. You’ll learn to juggle.
You will learn how to prioritize like a pro. You will wonder where you learned all of these amazing organizational skills. It will not feel like organization, though; it will feel more like overseeing mass chaos trying to juggle all of the balls in the air at the same time.
13. You’ll lose interest in happy hour.
Happy hours with your team will have less appeal because your arms will be longing to cuddle your baby all day long. If you do decide, once in a blue moon, to attend the after-hours event, you will be checking your watch the entire time, planning your escape so that you make it home in time to tuck your little one in bed with a kiss goodnight.
14. Long live your tribe!
Being a working mom, you will need support like never before. You will need them all: your spouse, your mother, his mother (yes, you will need his mother!), as well as your friends. You’ve heard that it takes a village, right? Well, that is absolutely true! Get to know your neighbors and moms within small groups and at daycare. You will need them too. But remember you must ASK for help!
15. Mom guilt is a real thing.
You will absolutely have it, and it will rush in like a wave, completely unexpected. Welcome it in and say hello, then let it go. And whatever you do, don’t let it hang around for too long. Read here for some tips to let go of mom guilt.
16. You will need to lean on your spouse.
Having a supportive spouse is critical for success. Bottom line, you need each other. It is important to remember that you are also a working wife in addition to being a working mom. Stay connected to each other and prioritize your relationship. Stress will come, so staying on the same page is key.
17. Don’t be ashamed to hire help.
Do what you have to do to make the finances work. Delegate the duties that you can, even if it requires a super strict budget to make it happen. Pay for the things that take time away from your children and family if you can: housekeeping, lawn maintenance, laundry, babysitting, etc.
18. You will absolutely need to practice self-care.
Let’s talk about the infamous buzzword, self-care. You need it, and you deserve it, enough said. Here’s the deal though, figure out what self-care means to you. This isn’t always about mani/pedis. Quite often, it can be as simple as a long walk, a good book, or a quiet morning with a good cup of coffee. Figure this out early on, and don’t settle for a life without it.
19. Don’t sacrifice this time if it’s not for something you love.
Make sure you find a career you love, a workplace you love and work for a boss you love. When you have this, you will discover that you naturally feel happy and fulfilled. It may take a while to figure out what this looks like for you, but by all means, make sure you find it as quickly as possible. When you don’t feel like you are in the right place, move on. It is not worth it.
20. The grass isn’t always greener.
And finally, there will be days that you wish you were a stay-at-home mom. On those days, remember that somewhere, a stay-at-home mom wishes she was a working mom like you.