I often coach mothers figuring out how to be a mum and a working woman. I’m sure some of the challenges I’ve helped with will resonate with you, they do with me:
"I want to say yes to the promotion, and I want to keep working four days a week"
"I’ve got a big gap on my CV, when my children were young, how do I explain that"
"If I’m honest I’m bored, but it works with everything else I need to do"
"I’ve lost my confidence on maternity leave, I’m not sure how I’ll ever do well in an interview"
With the Covid pandemic layering on domestic and home-schooling challenges, perhaps you’re feeling "I want to do something different but I’m just too tired and stressed".
If you’re facing these or similar challenges, here are some reassuring things I’ve learnt from coaching:
Firstly, it’s okay to feel this way. It can be a relief to share with a coach how challenging trying to make motherhood and career work is, and to hear you’re not the only one. A friend can help with this, provided they put aside their own frustrations, so you don’t end up in a 'me too' conversation!
Secondly, it’s okay to not know what your ideal is. I hear mums worrying they might make the wrong career decision. A coach can help explore 'wrong', and help reframe, which you can also do for yourself – instead of 'decision' think of 'opportunity', to get information about what may or may not work for you, which will make taking action feel safer.
Thirdly, it’s okay for action to be a sequence of manageable next steps. Mums often come to coaching with ideas but no plan, or a plan that's a daunting long list. If this rings a bell, get the thoughts spinning around your head down on paper – ask a coach or friend to listen to your ideas, capture themes, notice what's most energising (recording yourself works too). Then come up with small actions for your favourite ideas – "This month I’m going to research prerequisites for teacher training" is much more likely to happen than "I’m going to become a teacher". And an action of "parking for a couple of months until I have headspace" is still an action. Someone who will be a gentle guilty conscience nudging you to take a next step really helps.
If it's any reassurance, as a mum I’ve tried not working, working full-time, working part-time, studying, and now working for myself, as I try to figure out my mix of motherhood and career.
If you’re interested in hearing more, follow me on LinkedIn.
Accredited executive coach and leadership development consultant