My Struggle Finding Work-Life Balance
As first seen on Millennial Working Moms
For decades, the expectations for a warm, welcoming, and healthy home have been placed solely on the shoulders of the wife or mother. The traditional June Cleaver-type mother was the poster image for how a home should be - cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children… all while donning a strand of pearls. In today’s economy, that doesn’t make sense, nor does it work for most families.
However, over the last decade, there has been a huge shift as the equality gap is becoming more narrow and there are women who are choosing to focus on their career instead of starting a family. By no means have I mastered the ideal work-life balance routine, but thanks to a lot of long nights and help from family, I am getting there.
I grew up in a household where both my parents worked and balanced their time so my sister and I never had to go to daycare or after-school care. The labor was shared around the household, but my parents sacrificed time with each other to manage schedules that benefitted myself and my sister. Knowing what I do now, it wasn’t necessarily a healthy balance and juggling act.
Now, I’m in my late-twenties, married, and with one child. I am finding myself struggling to find a harmonious balance between my career and being a perfect mother to my almost-two-year old. Even throughout my college career, I have worked in a professional setting - starting in law firms, then shifting to startups and digital marketing agencies. My career has allowed me to do some pretty fantastic things, and it’s something that I am proud of. Throughout college, my career path never included marketing, but that is where I have found my passion and that is how I found some balance.
When my daughter was born, I was still working for a startup that was rather demanding of my time. I didn’t have the luxury of taking maternity leave, because I wouldn’t get paid, and with a new daughter, we couldn’t rely solely on my husband’s salary. (Read: I went to a meeting just 3 days after I gave birth). After that contract was up, my husband and I prayed about it and came to the decision that I would stay-at-home for a little. Hubby is an executive chef and doesn’t have the flexibility to stay home sometimes when I’m having a rough day. So I swallowed any pride I had about being a financial contributor to the household, put my career on hold, and focused on providing for our daughter.
I was sad. I was lonely. I struggled with postpartum depression. I missed having high-level conversations with other professionals in my field. It consumed me and I wasn’t able to give 110% to my daughter. We are very lucky that our family and friends pitched in and would come visit for the day and let me shower, nap, and get myself feeling human again while they took care of the baby, if even for a few hours.
Fortunately, I have a friend who got me involved as a freelance copywriter with the company he worked for. It was a way to make some extra money and have ultimate flexibility. I didn’t think this would turn into anything. Boy, was I wrong. If it weren’t for him, I would have never been introduced to other businesses and startups that would want me to work with them.
Fast-forward a year. I have made a career for myself as a self-employed digital marketer and copywriter. This means I make my own schedule, choose my clients, and work around being a mom. I have incredible clients that understand I am a mom, work around my crazy hours, and are wonderfully supportive. I am blessed that this is the life my husband and I created for myself. This past year has been absolutely wild, stressful, and rewarding.
There are still some sacrifices I have to make. I miss days with my daughter while I'm at work all day. There are days when I am working full-time and momming full-time. There are days when I feel defeated. There are days when I rejoice in my successes. There are weeks when I don’t see my husband as much as I would like. There are even days when my daughter goes with me to client meetings. We don’t have a perfect routine or schedule, but it’s much better than it was.
And I have found myself again. But this time as a happy, successful, working mother.
(photo credit Eileen Daniel Photography)