Inspirational

Take a Break Mom

For a working mother of any kind, Mother’s Day is a day to be pampered, but also to reflect. Many mothers reflect on how fulfilling their lives have been with their families, the advancement of their careers, but some may be thinking about how little time they’ve had to themselves. Not have a distinguishable time to break away from the duties of being a mother can create a lot of stress and worse depression; unfortunately that is one of the leading causes of heart attacks and heart disease for women. When you become a mother it does not mean that you must relinquish everything that you are and that includes taking some time for yourself.

Ask for help 

One of my friends showed me this article from Scary Mommy, which I thought was a funny and accurate title for a motherhood blog. We talked about how taking time for yourself or asking for help became a ridiculous thought because we needed to be there for our child/children. Then when I read the quote below it summed up how we need to ask for help whether from a partner, relative, or friend, because no one can do this alone.

“Just handle it! You asked for this!” constantly rang in my ears, and I refused — and I mean straight-up refused — to ask for help. Help is for wimps!  Help is for…for moms who don’t love their kids and need those silly “breaks” from them all the time…And then I hit the mother of all mothering walls and collapsed in epic fashion. I was toast. Burnt [sic] toast. And burnt toast can’t raise children.”  (Scary Mommy)

Demand time for yourself. 

 “The more we fill ourselves up, the more we have to give. And as moms, we have to give a lot.” –Kristy S. Rodriguez, a pre- and postnatal wellness expert and advocate stated in a Parents.com article. . 

Loving yourself first is not selfish, especially when you are a mother.  When a woman becomes a mother the thought of putting anyone ahead of their child’s needs is completely out of the question. However if you are unable to distinguish the mother, wife/partner, friend, and individual parts of yourself, they will eventually collide and you will implode. Demanding space, quiet time, time to something you enjoy and more is not hard. Ask for it. Create times for you to be with yourself and enjoy that time. If anyone disrupts it, unless it is an emergency, remind them that they are being disrespectful and ask them to respect your time so that you can be a better person overall.

The important thing to remember is you are not a bad mother if you need some time for yourself. Create in yourself a place of peace that will radiate outward and demand balance within the household. It will take time and adjustment, but it is possible. Take break to show that you know how to love yourself.

Your children are watching. 

Fear the Regret of not Being Bold

Anything that is holding you back from taking that chance to march into a new endeavor, knock it out of the way, and take that leap of faith. Many women, like men, fear change and any disruption in their stability.  I’ve talked about walking away from my private sector job and starting my own business before and it is not an easy choice. I see women on two different ends of the spectrum now, where they are either going for their dream life with gusto or having a ‘someday’ attitude because they have families; both are valid feelings. Outsiders may say that by taking a risk professionally, the respective woman will struggle or worse the family.  However fearing the unknown and absorbing the opinions of others is a recipe for regret. If  you put at least 50% of the energy that is given to your job or family into yourself, everyone will be better for it.

Fearing the unknown is a waste of time. Expecting the unknown troubles, successes, and journeys is far more invigorating! When a challenge arises that forces your humility it is a transformative process. When a woman becomes a mother, everything changes and many unexpected things occur. When a woman starts a business or other types of endeavors, it is the same process. We can prepare, but not always predict if or when something is going to happen. So why allow the fear of the unknown to build up our regret.

No matter what you do, someone will have an opinion for better or worse. And while it is alright to ignore those opinions, listen to them, because they may be holding a piece of advice that needs to be heard masked in worry. For example, if you are starting a small business and have a family of five someone may ask ‘What about your kids? What about your spouse?’ and that will spark an idea on child care, partner coordination, and work time management to be effective in all realms. With other negative opinions in the spirit of ‘Most businesses fail in five years’ or ‘You’re going to do that?‘ use that as fuel to prove to yourself  that these negative people were wrong. I say to prove it to yourself because no matter how incredible you become, they will never lift their outlook on life or opinion of you. You have to prove yourself wrong, by conquering every imagined catastrophe and rejoice in it not coming to pass. After all, the most important opinion we have is the one of ourselves.

Fear is a motivator and the fear of regret has the same power. Use the fear of regret to fuel your ambitions. Yes, mistakes will be made and perhaps one of those imagined catastrophes will come to pass. Learn from it, and be bold in moving forward. I may have regretted some decisions or plans I laid out that did not benefit me. However after almost 30 years of taking that leap of faith, I’ve learned it is better to regret bad decisions that were reshaped into opportunities, than to regret never taking a chance at all.

    There are no mistakes. 

     

    Give Yourself A Chance

    I was reflecting today on a conversation with a young woman I was mentoring about building her business, I’ll call her Lynn. She was so focused on going through a “life reset” post a recent turbulent transition that she would not give herself a chance to grow as a person and a professional.  One day I said to her ‘You walk around with this chip on your shoulder saying you survived, but what does that mean for your business?’ Since our conversation Lynn has grown in her business and appreciated the process. However it made me think about how much we press the “dress for the job you want” mentality instead of enjoying the process. When my mentee was telling me about what she wanted to accomplish, the plan was rushed, not thought out and she wanted to be the best instead of one of the best, which would’ve allowed the flexibility for growth. Instead of cultivating knowledge learned from mentors, mistakes, and risks she wanted to work tirelessly for the glory now. Which she did. It wore her out and she did not achieve the goal she was seeking. At this point she had given up because she wasn’t making six figures by a certain age.

    It was initially hard to understand why she was giving up. But then the realization hit me that she was not giving up, she was upset that she had to start over again. She had worked, stressed, and dressed for the job she wanted without enough substance behind her experience that would have propelled her into the roll she wanted. Lynn needed time to give herself a chance and not sulk about on her lack of desired accomplishments.  In one of my mentoring sessions I suggested that Lynn read The Alchemist. I love this book because it is a look at the wisdom behind taking a chance and going through a process for your “treasure”.  And just like the boy mentioned in the book, Lynn had many stopping points that forced her to grow mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and in skill to achieve her ultimate goal.

    We get these ideas in our heads that we will be exceptional, and we respectively will. The distraction is in the anxiety of it not happening fast enough. When your mind is not lined up with how a process will work to achieve your goal, there will be missteps that force you to start over or reevaluate. This is not a bad thing, because we need to learn from mistakes.  However it can cause you to be disheartened on an emotional and spiritual level and that distraction in addition to the initial distraction of rushing, will derail you completely. Lynn had to, as the church folk may say, have a conversation with herself and say “Self! What do you want?”. When she finally had that conversation and chose what she wanted in general for her career,  for her wealth, and for her family all of the little steps that lead to bigger steps have been moving her forward in her business. She had to give herself a chance to get balanced so that she could walk the path to her desired glory.

    Do not do yourself the disservice of not allowing the different components (mind, soul, and skill) of who you are to align with each other and lose your “treasure”.  Give yourself a chance to develop and be humble enough to know that you will make mistakes and learn from them. The process is long, it is rough, and your “components” will collide. Take care of each of them and watch how they will intertwine together to conspire in helping you to achieve what you want.  Lynn is still building and giving herself a chance to get it right, you can do it too.

    STEM is Risky, Go For It.

    “I go after problems that excite me. When I started this project, I didn’t know anything about black holes and honestly, it was a risky project. But my heart was in this project. I love this project, and I think that that’s what makes it a success. When you get really smart people together, who are super motivated by the problem that they’re working on, I think people will figure out the answers.”

    – Katie Bowman 

    Katie Bowman is one of the 200 scientists that collaborated to capture an image of light in a Black Hole. Seeing inside a black hole was an impossible feat until now and it was an international risk.  Despite the risk and not having previous knowledge of how black holes worked when she started on the project six years ago,  it was her algorithm that allowed scientists to capture the image that stunned the world.

    I was overwhelmed with excitement and surprise when the image was finally revealed and upon learning of Katie’s contribution it took me down this rabbit hole of ideas circling around, what is next for women in STEM?  The STEM field is comprised of roughly 28% women and that needs to grow. Everyday a new IT firm or incredible invention, or  discovery such as this one occurs and the number of women doing it is slowly rising. The next generation is preparing for the overwhelming jobs that will be available in the STEM or STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics)  fields, but for now we need to push for retraining and education for women interested in this field.

    In 2017, the International Visitor Leadership Program  also known as Hidden No More, brought together 48 women from around the world with “hidden talents” in STEM to go through workshops and networking opportunities to nurture their skills and create ideas that they could bring back to their respective countries. This idea came after the movie Hidden Figures premiered and sparked an interest in who else was “hidden” that could change the course of the STEM field.  We need to continue to do programs like this on the Federal, State, and Local levels to encourage the interest which will cultivate opportunities and provide growth for the country. If it is possible to create such an opportunity for 48 women, why not 100? Why not 1000?

    Katie had an opportunity to put her skills to the test, challenge herself, and achieve what was once impossible at the age of 29. She joined the project without knowing anything about it and created an opportunity for herself to overcome a barrier as a woman, engineer, and scientist; ultimately, all she had was hope to rely on. That hope, while deeply rooted in extensive education, is what took us quite literally across the universe. Her algorithm was a risk, her speaking up was a risk, her attempt to make something happen without having all the information was a huge risk. But the risk gave us the reward and as women in IT and Science we have to risk it all if we’re going to make the next giant step for (wo)man kind. 

     

     

    Mommy I want to do THIS!

    In 1993 Take your Daughter to Work Day began so that young women could expand their career horizons as the domestic roll was waning out. This was an incredible initiative to expose young women to the workforce and introduce careers that even 20-30 years prior were not “allowed”. Now it has evolved to take your child to work day so that children can get a sneak peek into what Mommy and Daddy do everyday, which introduces their career options or nurtures the idea to hold an excellent paying job and possibly own their own business. We are in an excellent time now where mothers, who this was not fathomable for 50-60 years ago, can imprint a work ethic within their child/children and make them say “Mommy I want to do THIS.”

    It’s adding up to success

    Women who work influence the entire household to push for more, whether they are married or not. Mothers are naturally gifted in multitasking, so working or running a firm, then coming home to manage the household successfully is not unusual. While it can be stressful at times the results are outstanding; especially for women of color. Women of color have been historically given barriers to climb the corporate ladder. Household incomes have doubled due to women working regardless of the type of the work. And single-mother households must work and take care of home without the help of a partner, so management of time and resources is key. Being able to manage all of these rolls can be mentally exhausting and many women suffer from depression, high blood pressure, and more. However for the sake of their children more women are taking the initiative to create balance in keeping themselves healthy and working smarter to create prosperity for their families. So if a woman of color who is single or married works for herself or is gainfully employed, whilst caring for a child/children and breaking through barriers to create generational wealth, this next generation will be on track to create a world of equity in business and a healthy balance in life. Because if Mommy can do this, so can ‘I’.

    • 11.6 million women own firms of various sizes in the U.S.
    • 5.4 million firms are majority-owned by women of color in the U.S. and 37% are in the workforce.
    • 70% of mothers with children under 18 are working, with 75% working full time.
    • Daughters of working mothers in the U.S. make approximately 23% more than daughters of Stay-at home-mothers and with 21% get managerial positions.
    • The median family income has increased 84% since 1980 due to women working, regardless of the industry.
    • 76% of the workforce are single mothers regardless of full/part time status or industry.

    Doing THIS

    On this incredible day women can show their children what means to be a balanced adult and manage their lives better regardless of what career is chosen. It’s not expected that your child follows the same career path as you, but they need to see who they want to be as individuals while they make that choice. Whether a single or married Mom it is also important to show children how to manage relationships, and that too is work. Seeing mommy at work whether in the office or home teaches youth to:

    • Create a good work ethic that provides stability in their career and mental state.
    • Manage time between work, home life, and fun.
    • Create opportunities for growth for the family and personally.
    • Create generational wealth by managing spending habits.
    • Taking chances on yourself to try something new.
    • Making sure your health is well balanced.
    • Cultivate sustainable relationships while at home and work.

    Every day is take your child to work day, because the work on yourself is never ending. Be someone they can look up to.

    RESOURCES