Women have been sold the “you can have it all” mantra since the 1980‘s, when we were just hitting our stride in the work place. I believe the simple answer is, no, women really can’t have it all. Striving to be the perfect mom, wife and career woman will only give you more mommy-guilt. Sure, I bought into it, climbing the corporate ladder after college and enjoying the fruits of a two-income household that included a BMW in the driveway, a 4-bedroom home in the ‘burbs, and a daytime nanny to care for my two daughters. It all looked good on the outside, but I was miserable on the inside. There was still dinner to prepare, bedtime rituals and laundry to do. At day’s end, I’d climb into bed exhausted, only to wake up bright and early to rinse and repeat my hectic schedule. I suddenly realized my corporate income was affording me a mommy-fill-in, while I was missing out on all the important milestones in my daughters’ lives.
What was it all for?
I returned my “have it all” life and left my corporate career behind to have it my way as a Mompreneur, taking a leap of faith to start a direct sales business in 1990. Learning a new business model and figuring out how to run a business with a 3 and 5-year-old in tow presented new challenges. I soon discovered the sound of a ringing phone turned my well-behaved daughters into little monsters. For some unexplainable reason, their little fingers would suddenly be inspired to draw on my walls with bright red lipstick. Hanging out in jeans all day and driving around in my down-graded car chipped away at my self-esteem and confidence. The successful corporate career girl was beginning to disappear, along with my friends’ and family’s perception of what I did for a living. To the outside world, work-at-home Moms are “not real business people”. Everyone seems to think we’re hanging out with nothing to do but wipe the snot from our kids’ noses. I know this because friends would frequently call to ask me out to lunch or shopping, saying, “What are you doing today?” I wanted to respond, “Running a multi-million dollar business, how about you?” Instead, I’d just say, “Oh, the usual. Working.” Enough already!
Here are 5 Tips To Kiss Mommy Guilt Goodbye:
1. Stop trying to have it all, balance is overrated. Striving to achieve a “balanced life” will only make you feel more guilty. Life’s not perfect. Your kids might eat cereal for dinner, you might have to miss one soccer game and your house might have a pile of dust bunnies hidden underneath your favorite comfy chair. It’s OK. That means you’re a normal human being.
2. Stock up on big sunglasses. In a perfect world, I’d shower every day. For a work-at-home-mom showering is just not a priority. If you have children under the age of three, it might not even be possible. I enjoy working in my yoga pants (because they’re comfortable, not because I do yoga). Lip gloss and a quick swish with a makeup brush can go a long way in making you look and feel presentable to the world. Make like a rock star and add a pair of big sunglasses. You’ll suddenly go from mommy drab to mommy mogul, all while conserving water and natural resources. That’s how you roll.
3. Break the child labor laws. Your children are the cheapest part-time help you can get. Put them to work and you’ll give them priceless gifts including self-esteem, confidence, teamwork and leadership as well as the ability to believe in whatever vision may drive them some day. My generation’s (let’s just say I’m over 50) parents were experts at this, torturing us with jobs like cleaning toilets, mowing the lawn and even expecting us to clean up the kitchen after dinner. Most of us turned out better for it.
4. Create a family dream board. Get your children involved in creating a dream board on your fridge and post pictures of what you’re working toward. Whether your income is paying for a new car, a family trip to Disney or their future college education, children need to understand what Mom is working for. Have faith that your kids are smart enough to get it; you’re working your butt off to create a better life for them. Guilt free.
5. Choose to work your biz part-time or full-time, but not in your spare time. Let’s face it, work-at-home Moms have no spare time. The spare-time biz plan will keep you frustrated and doomed for failure. It feels like you’re working all the time, taking care of biz in-between throwing in a load of wash and checking the kids’ homework. In reality, neither activity is getting your full attention. Set office hours that work for you and hire a mommy’s helper so you can have focused time working on income-generating activities. If you don’t have a spare room to use as an office, pick a quiet space away from the kids so you can be productive. The local library or Starbucks can provide you with free workspace and more importantly, wifi. You’ll get more done in 3 hours of focused time than you will working all day when you have “spare time”.
At the end of the day, all you can do is all you can do. That’s it. If it doesn’t all get done, stop beating yourself up (remember that human thing I mentioned in tip 1?). You did all you could do in that moment, that day or that month. You might have to take a detour and adjust your goals. So what? We can’t have it all, but we can have a guilt-free life knowing we defined success on our own terms.
Lynn Bardowski is an award-winning direct sales expert, keynote speaker and best selling author of Success Secrets of a Million Dollar Party Girl. She speaks to global audiences about entrepreneurship, social selling and women’s empowerment and is a resource for press, media and bloggers. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.