Let’s think about the ordinary system of life which so many of us are used to. We study, we graduate, we work, we buy a house, we work harder, marriage, kids, work, work, balance, more kids, unbalance, work, and repeat. Not necessarily in that order but we all know a familiar story. It is as exhausting as it sounds.
Graduating from college, landing an internship or an apprenticeship, and finding our purpose with a career is something which is indoctrinated into our society. It’s the epitome of achieving and is supposed to add to our self-worth. Sometimes we don’t find a purpose and we are left rocking into work for twenty odd years to do a job we are good at but don’t necessarily enjoy. Even worse, we’re schlepping away for someone else and filling their bank account for them. Our self-worth is not necessarily happily aligned with this outcome!
Nevertheless, work is something we focus on until we move on to the next element floating about in the age-old system, which is usually relationships. And then, along comes baby Johnny and life becomes more complicated as a working parent. Let me tell you right now, that system is quite broken when motherhood and the tiered structure in employment don’t join up so well together. I should know, I worked for 13 years in the corporate sector and it most certainly did not blend well with family life.
The Working Mother Paradigm
Women in the workforce have long been handed a raw deal, especially when children come along. It’s almost as though, suddenly, this hard-working woman has been retargeted and relabelled as a mother despite her extensive record as a hardworking, creative, committed, and dynamic colleague. We, as women, know that motherhood does not change how we work, but it can certainly throw us a few curveballs which we can’t always bat away.
There is a lack of support for mothers in the workplace and that is part of the reason we are so exhausted by the system. Don’t get me wrong, we know as working mothers our roles. We do our jobs as best we ever did, perhaps better. We are also navigating a threshold of duties at home caring for our house, our children, ourselves, and a multitude of other things which crop up unawares. But we are also burning out because we are bone tired by the expectations put upon us on both levels.
It’s not enough to simply be a mother these days. We have to be busy with a high expectation on us to be perfect and wear the exhaustion and mental overload as a badge of honour. But we all know being busy does not mean we are perfect and being “good enough” is what truly matters. However, that hectic feeling we get from being unavailable for our kids because of our heavy workloads and schedules lends itself to an inordinate amount of guilt because we feel we are not there for them.
Added to the guilt, we can be overburdened with stress, frustration, and a lack of patience, all brought on by exhaustion from long hours and long commutes.
How many weekends have you tried to balance the guilt of not connecting with your kids, so you load everyone into the car on a rainy Sunday morning for a trip to the zoo? Before you even leave the driveway, everyone is grumpy and sour. Looking in the rear-view mirror you think to yourself as exhaustion, guilt, upset, and overwhelm hits, “Is this it? Is this what life is meant to be like?”
Many of us have had that moment where we thought, there has to be more than this. And there is. We just need to upset the system!
Upset the System
The purpose we once had changes. It shifts, and often realigns when children come along. However, the system doesn’t encourage us to move along with that changing sense of purpose. As such, the system breaks, and we are effectively asked to make a choice – our career or motherhood?
Are we here to simply make our way through the system until it crumples, and we’re told something has to give? Do we go through school, college, and employment to work every hour of the day and barely see our kids? Where is our purpose in all of this? Let’s remember one particularly important thing about what is central throughout our working lives and every day as a mother… You.
The system is not very flexible until we, as innovative and dynamic women, poke a few holes and make it bend!
The system certainly didn’t work for and it didn’t work for so many other mothers I know on Instagram and close to home, as they learned to balance work life along with motherhood in careers they built for themselves. We broke the mould, changed the pattern, and created a career on our terms. It can be done, and myself and all of these other women are living proof.
I realised, after several years of being stuck in that same situation that no one was going to hand my purpose to me. I had to create my own purposeful, meaningful work. If I wanted working hours that served my body and my mind I would have to create it myself.
And I did! Mama Moments has grown and so have I.
I now spend huge amounts of time with my kids. I’m not missing their milestones because I am able to run my business in the pockets of time around my kids. My energy levels are completely different which, as you can imagine, means the energy in our home is completely different. Our overall happiness has skyrocketed and the stress and overwhelm has plummeted. I am proof that there is another way. But I am not the only one. You can create meaningful, purposeful work and still be there for all the sticky hugs, dance parties and silliness of your kids’ early years.
If you’re in the same position at the moment, pondering a shift from the corporate world into something more imaginative, creative, and purposeful, send me a message and let’s chat.