by Megan Shroy
Pop the champagne, ladies.
You’ve taken the workforce by storm.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, almost 47 percent of U.S. workers are women, and mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under 18 (compared with 11 percent in 1960).
In short: We’re killing it.
As the founder and president of a PR agency that employs seasoned consultants—the majority of whom are working mothers—I’ve found that many career-driven women, myself included, face a challenging question when we also have a family: How do I manage it all?
As mothers, we crave that elusive balance between building our professional practice and being present in our personal lives.
But unfortunately, many industries—especially PR—don’t offer the flexibility that’s needed to find it.
So, what’s a gal to do?
Sacrifice time with our kids?
Turn down challenging opportunities at the office?
Give up on our career path?
Life is a juggling act, particularly when we have fulfilling jobs and a family at home.
Deciding what’s best for your family and for yourself is, of course, different for every woman—and is dependent on the situation.
I’ve spend the last decade trying to prove that having a big job and being a good mom at the same time is possible! I’m here to tell every working mother that you can find better work-life balance by making some minor adjustments in your daily life.
In my early years of business ownership, I devoted countless hours to growing the agency. As Approach Marketing grew, so did my family. After introducing two children to the mix, I knew something had to give.
Here’s my big tip: At work, pursue the things you love doing and that have the biggest impact on the company’s success…and let go of the rest.
I recognize that might sound counterintuitive. But, growing my business means narrowing my focus so I can contribute the very best of myself to the agency and my family. When I’m about to start a new task at work, I’m constantly asking myself:
- Is this generating revenue for the business?
- Are my clients better off with me involved in this project?
- Is my team benefiting from my participation here?
- Is this contributing to the overall growth of Approach Marketing?
Also, sharing the workload allows other talented teammates to contribute to the prosperity of the business while advancing their own careers. In this scenario, everyone wins.
Below, our team of award-winning publicists and power moms offers some top-notch advice about what’s working for them—and how it can work for you.
How do you prioritize both work and family responsibilities?
“Over time, I've learned that there will be phases where my work is the priority, and I can't be home with my family in the evening due to meetings, events or travel. There are also phases where family commitments take priority, and I need to shut down early to be at curriculum night or start work a little later so I can volunteer at a school event. Balance ebbs and flows, and keeping this in mind will help to reduce guilt.”
What processes have you established so that you're organized and efficient (i.e., able to meet client responsibilities along with personal goals)?
“I live and die by my calendar. I update it multiple times a day as meetings shift, deliverables are completed and unexpected items come up. It’s what keeps me sane as a full-time working mother of three. This also allows me to look at my day and ensure I’m taking a breath somewhere along the way. That might mean a mid-morning coffee run with the windows down and music up (not KidzBop). It might also mean planning for an earlier start to my day so that I can meet timelines set for myself or a project. I also have lists. And my lists have lists.”
What tips do you have for carving out personal time?
“It’s important for me to have personal time to recharge and refresh. I always try to find time at least 3–4 times a week to work out, whether it be running or yoga. I block my calendar and make this a priority. And after my daughter goes to bed, I try to stay up for a bit. Even if I’m tired, I need that alone time to really ensure that I feel ready to take on the next day.”
At the end of the day, what helps you find balance and feel present with your family?
“Having two girls, it’s important to show them that women can be moms and have a career, too. When they ask me about working, I talk to them about how much I like my job and how they’ll find jobs they enjoy when they grow up. But I don’t want my kids to remember me always being on my phone or computer. I find that if I’m able to step away and be truly present with my family in times that I’m not working, it allows me to be fully present and engaged when I am working—which leads to better service for clients and better results.”
“It can be easy to let work creep in when spending time with family, like during evening hours or on weekends. As much as possible, I disconnect from work at the end of the workday and on weekends so that I can give my family undivided attention.”
What does successful work-life balance look like for you?
“While the response to this question is different for everyone, I’ve learned that part-time work is ideal at this point in my life [with a baby at home]. I look forward to working—and need to feel like I’m contributing to the greater good and helping move something forward. But I also need a flexible schedule because I want to take care of my daughter. The key has been establishing dedicated work hours and sticking to them, which includes early morning conference calls and reserving blocks of time in the mid-afternoon and at night to power through deliverables. Being able to pursue a fulfilling career and raise my child simultaneously—and be fully invested in both—is a privilege I don’t take for granted.”
I suppose my last piece of advice to all the working mamas out there is to give yourself some grace. You are doing the best you can.
Oh, and every now and then, look yourself in the mirror and say, “You are a badass.”
Because you are.