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Facing the Juggling Act of Motherhood and a Career

Anna Johansson

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As women, we face many challenges in the career field that our male counterparts don't have to deal with. One, in particular, is motherhood. When it comes to starting a family, we often struggle with making choices that satisfy everyone involved—including ourselves.

Five Tips You May Find Helpful

It wasn't but 35 or 40 years ago that mothers were pretty much expected to stay home with their children while the husband went to work. And while things have evolved some over the past few decades—hundreds of major corporations, including GM, IBM, PepsiCo, Lockheed Martin, and Duke Energy are now run by women—there's still a stigma within many social and professional circles that women must choose motherhood over careers.

While this stigma isn't right, it exists, nonetheless. The patriarchal undertones of society are still alive and well, which leaves women in a challenging spot where they're expected to juggle motherhood and a career.

If you find yourself in a position where you have young children and a desire to have a successful career, you need to develop a plan. Tough choices and sacrifices will have to be made, but there's an opportunity. You may find the following tips and suggestions helpful:

1. Flip the Script

If you're married, why is it that you have to be the one to juggle parenthood and a career? The discussion should be open, and all angles should be considered. Your husband should be just as responsible for juggling parenting and work.

Ask your husband if he'd be willing to stay home with the children—or at least be the primary caretaker. This especially makes sense if you're the breadwinner in the relationship (though financials shouldn't be the only consideration).

2. Start Your Own Business

When you're an employee of an organization, you pretty much have to do what you're told. You can't stay home with your child every time he gets sick and expect to keep your job or continue climbing the ladder. There will be obligations that require you to travel occasionally, work weekends, or take on extra projects over holidays. That's just the way it goes. But when you own your own company, suddenly you're the one calling the shots.

Not everyone is cut out to start and run their own business, but this could be a good option for you. If nothing else, it gives you total autonomy in how you spend your time. This can be invaluable during the early years of parenting.

3. Work from Home

The dream for many moms of young children is to be able to work from home. But with all of the gimmicky jobs circulating the internet these days, it can feel impractical to leap.

But as Budget Boost explains, "Working from home doesn't have to be an unattainable dream. For many mothers, it can help open up a world where you can stay home with your kids and still make money on a schedule that works best for you and your family."

It's possible that your current employer will let you transition into a role where you can work remotely. Or maybe this is the right time to try out freelancing.
Exhaust all of your options before writing this off.

4. Make Time for Yourself

Though your kids and career may come first, don't forget to take some time for yourself occasionally. Carve out at least one afternoon or evening per week to do stuff you enjoy. Get your nails done, read a book, go for a walk—you do you.

5. Be Where You Are

One of the biggest temptations you'll encounter when working a job and being a mother is guilt. For some reason, it always seems to be there—and it goes both ways.

"Get rid of the guilt," successful journalist Katie Couric says. "When you're at one place, don't feel bad that you're not at work; when you're at work, don't feel bad that you're not at home."

Putting It All Together

You don't have to choose between being a mother and developing a successful career. If you're purposeful in your approach, there's plenty of room to find enjoyment in both. The key is to be open and honest with the people around you and not to let stigmas and archaic ways of thinking dictate what you do in your own life.

Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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