We are the generation of moms that refuse to sacrifice our dreams for our children. And we, likewise, refuse to sacrifice our children for our dreams. We were raised by a generation that made a choice. Kids over career or career over kids. Mom’s today, are much more likely to say, “I want both.”
It’s a great step in the right direction, but it is oftentimes easier said than done. I meet many women who are great mothers and actively pursuing their life’s work, whether it be in a career, entrepreneurship, or in the service sector. BUT sometimes it’s at the expense of their health. Or, I meet women who are great at taking care of themselves, and are great moms, but feel like they have a bigger dream they want to fulfill and struggle to fit it all in.
This is not an easy endeavor to find the balance. I still struggle with this one. When people ask me “What are your big goals with your company?” I always have a hard time answering. I know I want to build the best company I can, and I know I want to be an involved and present mom. And I know I can’t do it at the expense of my health. (Learned that lesson the hard way.) So my answer is usually something vague like, “To be extremely profitable and serve a lot of business owners.” And in my mind I add, “And still have family balance.”
I’m not going to suggest that I have all the answers on this one. But I am happy to share what I’m doing that IS working.
- Write out your job descriptions. The job of Mother can be soooo big and overreaching that if we’re not careful it becomes an impossible job to succeed at. When I was pregnant with son #3, I got an inspired idea to write out job descriptions for every area of my life. It was SO healing! I got clear on what it meant to me to be a great mom, and I let go of everyone else’s definitions. Click here to read more about how to write job descriptions for your life.
- Choose a marathon pace for your everyday life. Often times when my balance is suffering, it’s because I’m trying to run too fast in one side of my life. I find that my life works best, when I only do business while my kids are at school and travel 1-2 times a month. More than that and we get out of balance. But if I’m not careful, my business takes over. I could be traveling every week and working until 9-10 every single night. That is what I call a sprinter’s pace. I can run that hard and fast, but only for a little while. And then I need some serious rest. Instead I choose to run my life like a marathon. If I can’t maintain something over a long period of time without getting burnt out, then I simply don’t do it.
- If you have to sprint, balance it out with rest. There are some times that life requires a sprint from us. If we have multiple kids in sports at a time, we are sprinting trying to get everyone where they need to go. We can do it, but we can’t maintain it over the long haul. So, if we do a season of full sports, we opt out of the next season to re-establish balance. Our kids don’t get to join every single sport and activity they want. Some people might think that makes us selfish parents. I view it as us maintaining family balance. I don’t want my family so busy that we can’t have dinner together, or do family activities together.
- How can I do this? There are a lot of things that my industry peers do that I can’t do. If we look at life through a lense of “I can’t do that,” we will find ample evidence showing us that we have to chose family or living our dreams. Instead, I ask myself, How can I do this? When I started Amy Walker Consulting I had a newborn, an 18 month old, and 3 elementary age boys. I couldn’t be out of the house and traveling to new cities every few days. And I was a professional speaker! So instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I thought, “How can I do this?” And the answer came, online speaking. I became the queen of webinars and online events. There is always a way if you will look for it!
- Find women who can mentor you that are doing it the way you want. I’ve worked with many mentors in my life, men and women, and I’ve learned from all of them! This is not a knock on men. I find so much value in having women in my life who are balancing motherhood and pursuing their dreams. They give me perspective. They help me see that sometimes you’ve got to redefine some “rules” in order to make it work. They help me see that I can get creative and problem solve in order to be successful. I find my life is always enriched when I have a sister in my corner, cheering me on, and showing me what’s possible.
- Understand that living your dreams is good parenting. We tell our children that they can do and be anything they want. And then we show them, by our actions, if that is true or not. I love that my boys get to watch me and my husband live our dreams. I love that they get to see the sacrifices we make on both the business and family sides of our lives. They are learning that we prioritize and make decisions that align with our beliefs and values. I can’t think of a better way to teach those principles than to live them.
Your dreams are important. Your family is important. Learning how to make them both a priority is simply a skill! And I know you can do it!