Balancing Work + Motherhood: An Exploration


Today I want to talk about parenthood and being a professional (wedding or otherwise). It’s been on my mind quite a bit since reading Lean In + feeling my baby kick up a storm. So I contacted loved ones + wedding professional friends who are moms and asked them some questions.It was really interesting getting feedback from small business owners vs. those who had corporate jobs. They faced such different challenges, yet I could find consistent themes amongst these 5 amazing women.So, let me introduce you to my panel (clockwise from top right)… Amanda – Best friend since 6th grade, nurse practitioner, graduate student + mother of one Holly – Cousin, mother of two, + manager at LinkedIn Ashley – Owner of A Little Something White bridal shop + mother of two Erica – Owner of Erica O’Brien Cake Design + mother/step-mother of two Alexis – Sister, mother of two, + sales manager at Tiffany & Co. in Greenwich Here is the feedback I found most comforting, helpful + thought-provoking… :: What is the biggest piece of advice you’d give moms-to-be? :: Alexis: Your life is going to change forever!  Take advantage of the quiet time you enjoy now.Holly: Sleep as much as possible while you still can. Do lots of date nights.  Take a babymoon.  Own and craft a transition plan that delegates all of your responsibilities while you’re out, and have it buttoned up about a month before you’re due in case your little person arrives early. Ashley: Don’t feel badly if you aren’t having the time of your life every second of the day right after having the baby. Babies are both amazingly wonderful and incredibly difficult at the same time. Every person has a different ability to process this. Erica: Give yourself the permission to not know what to expect, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable. Although it’s natural to try to envision exactly what your life will look like after kids, it’s really hard to truly understand how much motherhood impacts you until you experience it. :: What one thing would you have done differently during maternity leave? :: Holly: I would have left the house with the baby more!Amanda: Gotten more organized and let people help more. :: How has motherhood changed how you look at your career or business? :: Alexis: After having children, you gain perspective. Now, I realize the relative importance of everything that happens in work to the happiness I feel at home.Ashley: Motherhood was the reason I started my business.  I was successful at what I did but lacked the passion I knew I would need to sustain me for the long term. If I was going to walk out the door each day and forego time with my children, especially during these very important early years, I had to love what I did. Amanda: It has made me appreciate the field of work I’m in and appreciate the fact that I love my job. Erica: I think it’s motivated me in lots of ways. I want to be a good role model for my children, and show them that I’m successful…All aspects of my life define me, and  I can’t envision my life without my children or without my business. :: What is the biggest challenge as a working Mom? :: Alexis: I think if you’re able to do both it is good for you and for your family.  My children (after working with several nannies throughout the years) know no stranger and can adapt well to change. But your children won’t be with someone who is invested in the same way that their parent would be. I talk to [my daughter] about working and what I am providing to the family, and I think (hope) she understands why I leave. Holly: Time. Sleep. There is never, ever enough of either. Erica: I have a lot of mommy guilt. During wedding season, I spend long days at the shop while my kids are with my husband, and I feel terrible the whole time that I’m not with them. My husband is very supportive and always tells me that the kids are fine…but I still feel bad about it. :: Do you think motherhood prepared you in any special way for starting your business? :: Ashley: Starting a business is figuratively like having a baby. It requires patience, intense nurturing, atremendous amount of hard work, and is incredibly rewarding and frustrating at times. I think the biggest thing motherhood gave me was patience. With children, no matter how much effort you put in, they usually do things at their own speed. Erica: Perhaps having my own business gave me confidence that I might not otherwise have…but for me, having the support and love of my family prepared me the most. :: “Having it all.” Great motivation or crock of s***? :: Alexis: It is not my experience that you can have it all.  I think you have to make a choice. The closest you will get to having it all with depend greatly on the support and contribution of your husband. Your marriage is the foundation of it all and must be nurtured. Holly: Both, and here’s why: you can have it all, but you need to adjust your expectations around what “having it all” truly means.  The sooner you can be okay with the fact that you’ll be 50/50 at best, the better. Ashley: To me, the phrase “having it all” means that your life is in this perfect balance where you never feel like you are sacrificing anything….but that’s not life. Life is about sacrificing and compromising. But am I living a fulfilling life? I would say “absolutely”. Amanda: I think it’s a great motivation. If you have a supportive partner in life, anything is really possible.

Work is a sort of “break” from motherhood, yet it makes you appreciate your kids even more when you are away from them!

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