Helping ambitious women in technology fully unlock their leadership potential
Why working mums struggle with the work-life balance
Most of the women I help are working mums. And as working mums, very often we struggle with the work life balance. Why is that? Why isn’t that balance easier?The answer is different for every woman. Partly it’s our culture. Study after study reveals the startling facts that women do more (house)work than men. On average, women in employment earn less than men. Women are more likely to work part-time but also women are more likely to have lower paid jobs. In June The Telegraph reported on a study published by MenCare, and yes, women DO carry more of the burden.It’s not surprising then that working mums struggle with the work-life balance. We are doing more.But that can’t be the only reason … It is hard because often we are trying to do too much.We are trying to have it all. After all that’s what we see in the media, on TV, in magazines – women being beautifully dressed, sexy, confident, with charming well-behaved children, a calm healthy breakfast, driving a pristine car with the wind gently blowing our hair …… ya boo sucks to that.Whereas in reality, the car floor is covered in paper – supermarket receipts, empty crisp packets, screwed up tissues, our hair is tied back because we didn’t brush it this morning, perhaps a scraping of mascara and quick dusting of blusher. The house is untidy and messy – it’s not hideous but if a group of friends showed up unexpectedly, you’d die of embarrassment because there’s a pile of ironing on the settee, this morning’s breakfast bowls still on the table, Playmobil ALL over the floor. [Please tell me that it’s not just me].
You do not need to be perfect
If you set yourself up to be the perfect mother with the perfect work-life balance, you are setting yourself up for failure. As I wrote at the beginning of The Confident Mother, it is impossible to be perfect: “… whose ‘perfect’ would you be? Your ‘perfect’ will be different to your children’s ‘perfect’ which will be different to your mother’s perfect. Perfection as a mother is impossible to attain.”Superwoman is a caricature. She does not exist. Don’t try to be her.
The evidence shows us that that it IS enough to be a good enough mum. We don’t even need to be a good enough mum all the time, just some of the time is enough for our children to develop into well-rounded, emotionally mature adults.
What’s most important to you?
Instead focus on what’s most important to you as a working mum. What is the work-life balance that feels right for you? How do you want your children to look back and remember their childhood? Don’t worry about how others may judge you. Do what is right for you. For me, it is important to always home-baked cake at birthdays. For another mum, it might be really important to always be at the school gates. Work out YOUR priorities and pay attention to those first.
It’s ok to accept help
In our bid to have it all, very often, and illogically, we refuse to accept help from others (even though that might allow us to have it all). Or we complain like mad when somebody doesn’t do things the way that we would have done them. How important is it? Many, many years ago, working women were not trying to balance so much. Accept the help when offered. Do not see it as a sign of weakness, instead see accepting help as a sign of strength. You are accepting the help so that you can be a better mum.
Give yourself permission for self-love
When I talk about self-love, I mean showing yourself compassion and kindness. Forgiving yourself (and others) when you make mistakes. Finding ways to deal with overwhelm. Doing small things and taking ‘me’ time. It’s more than ok to take me time. In fact, it’s bloomin’ well ESSENTIAL. How are you going to look after others if you don’t look after yourself first? In the book, we have lovely ideas and thoughts from Lucinda Button, Toni Brodelle and Julia Harris.
Find what works for you – take a nap, eat chocolate, go for walk in the woods, practice meditation, do moderate exercise, take a proper lunch break.
Do you do too much because you are trying to please everybody else first? Take time to think about what is most important to you and focus on that first
Yes it’s true, working mums do sometimes struggle with the work-life balance. However if you remember that you do not need to be perfect, focus on what’s most important to you, accept that it’s ok to receive help, and give yourself permission for self-love, this will make a big impact on how you cope with the day-to-day pressures, so that the work-life balance doesn’t feel so challenging and such a struggle.
Now take one moment and reflect, what one change will you make today so that your work-life balance is less of a challenge?