Whenever I talk to other working moms about their inspiration for working, 99% of the time they say they’re doing it for their family. That’s my answer when someone asks me, too, but sometimes I wonder if we’re not telling the full truth. I know so many women who give everything to their jobs and/or their business, and quite frankly, they have nothing at all left for their family.
Is family really everything when we stay up all hours of the night leaving our husbands alone in the bed, or when we’re so focused on being present online that we’re not looking at our kids when they ask us a question? It doesn’t seem like it.
A few years back, I had to choose between missing my daughter’s 5th birthday or not attending an out of town work retreat. I went back and forth for days trying to piece together an airline schedule that would allow me to do both. Finally, I decided that I wanted to be there for my daughter. Less than a year later, I wasn’t even working at that job anymore. I would have been so mad at myself if I would have missed my baby’s special day over a job that had my position filled before I had even turned in my work computer.
Family over everything. It’s not just a concept that we should say because it sounds good. We need to be living it.
You can still go after your goals and fulfill your dreams even while putting your family first. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Occasionally your family may have to bend and be flexible, but for the most part, you can do your thing while being there for their thing, too. Here are some ways that you can really do it for your family:
1. You’re not missing anything.
First of all, you need to tell yourself that you’re not missing anything. Most of the time, women choose work over their family because we don’t want to miss out on the thing that could take us to the next level. Let me tell you this: I’ve been hired, promoted, and laid off from jobs. They are inconsistent with how they treat folks because they mostly care about us as long as we’re doing the work. That’s why it’s work. Family is constant. The memories you make with the people you love are way more important than the ones you make with a job you may or may not work at 3 months from now.
2. Train yourself to be more efficient.
I have a full-time job, plus a blog, and a couple of consistent freelance positions and I still get to bed at 10 PM every night. If I wasn’t efficient, there’s no way I could do that. My biggest challenge with getting to this point was staying focused on tasks at hand. Once I started setting my intentions, making and sticking to my to-do list, and getting off of social media, I got more done. Every evening I do a #HustleShift where I write for anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours. I have actually written an entire post in 15 minutes, SEO and everything! It was work to get to this point, and to train myself to not overthink or allow myself to get distracted. It’s working, though, and I have more time for myself and my family because of it.
3. Consider alternative schedules.
My workday starts at 5 AM Monday – Friday. I’m able to complete a full two hours before my family comes downstairs for breakfast. Then from 7:15 AM – 1 PM when I get off of work, I only have to worry about 1 kid and no husband. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I have help with my son all day. That’s when I schedule trainings or meetings with my team at work. By the time I factor in Jamie’s nap, I really only have to balance work + life for about two hours each day.
4. Set boundaries and stick to them.
Determine what your non-negotiables are. If you want to be there for your kids’ birthdays, be there for your kids’ birthdays. If you don’t work on the weekends, let people know that. Respond to emails and telephone calls early on Monday. I learned the hard way that it’s my responsibility to set boundaries for my life otherwise people would have no regard for my family time. It was incredibly uncomfortable to stick to the boundaries that I set up, but I kept at it, and now it’s pretty easy.
5. Just put family first. Period.
YOU ARE A GROWN WOMAN. If you want to put your family first, do it. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. If a job doesn’t understand, a client doesn’t get it, someone has a problem with it, you can change your situation. Find another job, fire your client, do something different. I know that it might take some time for you to work things out, trust me. I wouldn’t dare encourage you to quit your job without having something else lined up. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be in charge of putting things in motion. Just put your family first. Believe me, it’ll pay off in the long run.