The decision to get back to work after becoming a mother is a personal choice. For some women, the decision if out of free-will, to some out of necessity, to some due to lack of choice and to some out of choice. What I’ve realized based on my own personal experiences and interactions with other mothers are that most working mothers do go through phases in their life when they need to strive extra-hard just to find a balance between their personal and professional priorities. And what clearly sets apart those who somehow manage to make it all work are:
1) Desire to Work
This tops the list. If as a mother, you don’t have a desire to work – then no amount of personal support and organization flexibility is ever enough. I’ve known women who had everything going in their favor BUT had just NO interest in working – That’s a personal choice. On the other hand, I’ve known women who had really all ODDS against them, but their desire to work and carve a meaningful career was so STRONG that they were able to achieve this. And then of course, there are all those in-between.
2) Supportive Spouse
As a women and more importantly, once you become a mother – You realize the difference that a supportive spouse can make. I’ve known mothers whose life is so easy just because their spouse helps in all possible ways to make a difference. This can be in little things like giving you 10 minutes of ME time every day, to waking up 15 minutes early each morning, to helping with little errands around the house TO larger things like supporting your choice of when you want to get back to full time work after having a child, to decisions related to how to parent your child
3) Reliable Support System
This is one of the key differentiators which have a direct impact on your day-to-day routine. As trivial as it may sound, for a mother knowing that her child is with a support system who she can completely rely on goes a long way in her ability to focus at work and also in her productivity. In the initial few years of a child’s growth – at least till a child is able to communicate and express, the support system (can be family or friends or professional help) plays a KEY role in how a working mother’s career evolves. As a child starts growing and becomes independent, different support systems are required – Nevertheless, they are vital for a working mother
4) Clarity on Priorities
As a woman, mother and more importantly, a working mother – Your priorities in life have to be CRYSTAL CLEAR in your head. There will be times when work is No.1 priority, times when your baby is No.1 priority and times when YOU will be No.1 priority and times when family will be No.1 priority, etc. And these priorities change with time, based on the need.
But the point is at any given situation your decision making abilities will be so much easy if you have your priorities clear. There will be times when you need to DE-/RE-PRIORITIZE – You need to be flexible to achieve a balance between what you expect of yourself, what your family expects of you & what your workplace expects of you.
And I’ve personally found that it is useful if you spend time thinking about what your priorities are – Only then you will get clarity. Write it down somewhere and go through it every day in the morning. This will give you the required perspective to handle any kind of situation.
As a working mother, I’ve found that some women seem to be having things moving in their favor all the time. And when I really analyze what they were doing right, the one thing that STOOD OUT was their OPENNESS.
You need to be open to ideas, thoughts, suggestions, new ways of working, new opportunities, people, situations, learning, technology, future and most importantly CHANGE. And ideas, thoughts and suggestions usually come in abundance to any mother.. And these come from everywhere – friends, family, people at work, and many times your kids themselves. You need to be open to listen, to try, to act, to change, to learn/un-learn/re-learn. This will make a SIGNIFICANT difference in your life
6) Ability to communicate in a clear and precise fashion
From personal experiences and observation, I can vouch that this makes a significant difference if you are a working mother. And to be able to clearly express yourself, you need to be first clear in your mind about what you want to convey – both in the form of oral communication and written communication.
Many women are good in clearly communicating data or what they know, but fall short when it comes to clearly expressing their emotions or thoughts or what they want. For e.g.: Ask the following questions to yourself or to a woman and see the difference in responses:
“How do you make tea?”
“What do you want to achieve in life?”
“3 specific ways your spouse can help you today?”
But the good news is that you can consciously work and improve your communication skills.
Before you speak,
• Think on what message you want to really convey
• Think about who is the listener and the best way you can express
• And then only speak…