21st Century Mom – A balancing act
Author: Amanda Adomatis, Senior Consultant, IntegrityPro Consulting, LLC
By day, I am just your average person working in the information technology industry. However, one of my passions is mentoring other women. One of the ways I do this is by serving as a lead for a women’s health community. Often, younger women ask me about balancing life, career, and kids.
Something to note is that although I am 43, my children are ages 5, 3, and 1. One of the top questions I am asked is if I think having children hinders my career. I absolutely love this question. I am quick to tell them that I have accomplished more since having children. I have run seven half-marathons, traveled, completed a master’s degree, switched careers, and obtained multiple certifications. Somewhere in between all of that I even learned to sew. Most of my major life accomplishments were made after having children. Would my life be easier without my three small children? Well, it might be more convenient, but it would not be the same. Also, my children are huge motivators they drive me to want to accomplish more. When I was 41 and five months pregnant with my third baby, I left a secure job to work for a start up IT company. I discovered a new passion…technology. I absolutely love my job and that I get to provide custom solutions to customers that make their life easier. Literally, it is my job to help make work easier for people.
Another question I often get is if I feel “mommy tracked” because I am a mom. Statistically women take more time off work than men because they tend to be the primary care givers for children. Women sometimes take roles that are more flexible so they can be available to their family, or in some cases, they are just put in roles that do not have a lot of upward movement. Some women are afraid to have pictures of their family at their desk as it serves as a reminder that they have a life outside of work. I cannot say this is my experience though. I work for an organization that values family and values me as a person and not just an employee.
Lastly, a common question is how do I balance it all? The good news is that you cannot! Wait? That is GOOD news? Yes! Do not expect to have it all together every single day. As a mom that works outside of the home, you must let go of being a perfectionist and you must ask for help. Sometimes, that is help at work and other times that is help at home. As the typical Type A personality, this was super hard for me. The idea of “having it all” all the time, is a farce. Sometimes you are going to absolutely crush it at work and usually when that happens, you forget to pack your kid’s lunch. In my case, you forget a doctor’s appointment for your child. Other times, you are completely crushing your mom game and sometimes you miss a deadline.
What are my tips for achieving this work-life harmony? First, the organization to which you devote your time should value you as a person, and not just what you can do for their bottom line. I remember telling the CEO of my current organization that I will prioritize the needs of my family, but I am an excellent negotiator, have excellent time management skills, am dedicated, hard-working, and a quick learner. Some of these skills I had prior to having children, but most have been honed since becoming a mom. He said that he can teach me anything technical, but he could not teach dedication and hard work. Secondly, never be afraid to ask for help. We waste more time trying to figure it out than asking for help. You are one person, and you cannot do everything. So, ask for help with the dishes or that report. Lastly, lower your expectations. I personally want to excel at everything I do, but it’s important to remember that is not always possible. Recently, I had a conversation with my boss about an upcoming certification exam. He said, “Do not be so afraid of failing that you do not even try. The worst thing that can happen is that you fail, and you take it again.” Wow! Talk about taking off the pressure. And now the bonus tip: stop comparing yourself to others. Yes, Sarah’s mom made personalized gifts for every teacher and you got cookies from Costco. So what? Everyone has a different situation, and everyone has different talents. Yes, Sarah’s mom is crafty, but can she type out 100 lines of code in six minutes? Maybe, maybe not. It does not matter.