Before a woman gives birth, she’s hit with the battle over whether to have an epidural or go natural, caesarian or vaginal delivery – then once the baby is born, we have new important choices to be wrong about: breast or bottle, cry-it-out or attachment parenting – then, of course, there are vaccines, screen time and the list goes on!
As if that were not enough to get us acquainted with mom guilt, some mothers are then faced with one of the most difficult decisions of all – should I go back to work or be a stay-at-home-mom?
First let me acknowledge how privileged we are to be mothers, to be able to work, (and for some) have the choice to do both. When you choose to combine motherhood and career in any way, there will always be sacrifices and compromises – so it’s most important to know your “why” (income, satisfaction, sanity) and to do what works for you, for your children and your family.
Over the course of five years I gave birth five times – to three healthy little boys and two amazing businesses (not sure which was harder) – but like many of you, I was unsure and often wondered whether or not I was making the right decision going back to work. It took me longer than others, as it wasn’t until my first son was a year old that I began exploring the idea of re-establishing my career, then another year before I launched my clothing brand.
I have a background in fashion and journalism but I didn’t have the first clue about how to start a business or how to turn my passion into profit. Fortunately, I married a super-entrepreneur who helped me along the way – but also, who (to this day) says I’m the most difficult student he ever had and that life would be my best teacher.
He was right, I was difficult but not without reason. I really struggled with the idea of leaving my kids in anyone else’s care, so I didn’t have a nanny. This meant, in the early stages of my business I was trying to get my work done late at night or during nap time – our spare room, garage and other areas in our home became my office and stock rooms – and I was making very expensive mistakes, which in hindsight could’ve been avoided if I took his advice; but hey nothing like the school of life!
I was working really hard but I wasn’t efficient. As a natural over-achiever, I knew I needed to make some changes – so how can I be the best mom and build a successful business? I didn’t want to miss my children’s milestones or other important events in their lives; but I also felt obligated to myself, to ensure that I was able to achieve my true potential as a businesswoman and to make them proud when they grow up and see what I have achieved. Being a Mom to all boys I also feel a strong sense of purpose, to give them a soft, loving and devoted mother but also show them that women can be strong, successful entrepreneurs as well.
I went in search of balance but instead found integration – the difference is this, balance is suggesting that I give equal amount of energy to more than one thing, but truth is I don’t. Integration allows me to create more synergies between these two areas of my life, knowing and accepting that my children are my focus and priority while also giving myself dedicated times in my day to achieve my own business and personal goals.
As mothers, our family fuels our soul and are important parts of what makes life worth living. While our careers provide an income and feeds our need to contribute to something bigger – ultimately, they both provide an important sense of purpose.
I’m well aware that this will not work for everyone as we all have different circumstances – but I hope this inspires anyone thinking of doing both (whether it’s starting a business or working for someone) while being a full-time mom; that it is possible and you are a multifaceted queen!
See my post on job ideas for stay-at-home mom here.
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