I remember as a teenager, watching my mother going about the house doing her chores and thinking to myself, “I would love to be happily married, have children, and run a home one day but I would also like to have a successful career. I wonder if it is possible?” More than 40 years later I can say that my dreams have come true. I have been happily married for 38 years, I have three grown children and I have, and still am enjoying, an exciting successful career in business. It was not always easy, and I tried hard for many years to find balance but finally realized that balance is elusive. It is however possible to experience joy and harmony in everything one does. I discovered a few practical ways which worked for me to be able to cope with business and family pressures.
- Mindset – It all begins here! Make your plans and create your destiny. Dare to dream and dream BIG. Continually remind yourself what you want to achieve, a dream board in a prominent place is helpful.
- Support structure – Make sure you put a support structure in place to suit your personal needs. For example: If you have children, employ an au pair who looks after the children in their home environment. As a backup find someone close to you whom you can trust to help when the au pair is on holiday or takes ill. This could be your spouse, mother, or mother-in-law, or friend. Having the right support structures in place costs more but when you can focus on your work without worrying about the more routine tasks at home and knowing that the children are happy and well taken care of, you will be able to perform better at work and the outcomes will result in better compensation and job satisfaction – it is worth it.
- Systems and processes – In business we need systems and processes and I found that systemising my personal life helped me to cope and I was able to leverage my time. For example: Compiling grocery lists, traveling lists (which included what I needed to pack for a business trip, what to prepare for the family and reminders for the family members whilst I was away), development programs for the au pair to use with the children and weekly feedback reports from the au pair. Think about it in terms of the 9 Steps to Systemising a business in Brad Sugars book “Instant Systems”. After all, you are managing a mini (home) business.
- Self-Care – Make time for yourself! Do not feel guilty when you take time to relax. Book time for a facial, massage, or even just a relaxing bath. Staying healthy by exercising and eating regularly is especially important. You must be intentional about these things, otherwise, it does not happen.
I once heard a psychologist speaking on the radio and she said that the reason so many working mothers experience guilt, shame, and resentment and so often end up neglecting taking care of themselves and sometimes leading to depression, is because when they are at work they are expected to work as if they are not a parent and when they parent, they are expected to parent as if they are not working. To be able to cope with this pressure you need to implement these above-mentioned four practical ways. Life is too short and precious to miss out. We are living in a time when it is possible for a woman to have a career and experience the joy of a family which my mother was unable to do in her generation. Make the most of the opportunity!