As working moms, we all understand that life can be a whirlwind of responsibilities, deadlines, and the delicate balancing act between our careers and family life. From managing work projects to ensuring our children’s well-being and happiness, we wear multiple hats with grace and determination.
We have high hopes, dreams, and meticulously crafted plans to make it all work seamlessly. But, let’s be honest, life has its way of throwing curveballs that can disrupt even the most carefully laid-out path.
For example, you’ve prepared everything for an important presentation at work, but suddenly your child falls sick, and you need to take a day off to care for them. Or your child’s school unexpectedly announces a change in the academic calendar, and the school holidays no longer align with your planned time off from work. Now you need to find alternative arrangements for childcare during those days.
Maybe you had a solid career plan in place, but your company undergoes a restructuring, and you find yourself facing the possibility of a job change or relocation, leading to uncertainty and potential disruptions in your family’s life. Or perhaps a family member gets sick or experiences health issues, making it difficult to balance your professional responsibilities and family duties during their recovery.
It’s during these moments of unpredictability that we truly demonstrate our resilience and strength. We face challenges head-on, whether it’s a sudden change in our child’s schedule, an unexpected project deadline at work, or simply dealing with the everyday unexpected surprises that come our way.
The realities of being a working mom are no joke. How we navigate the unexpected twists and turns that come our way is truly remarkable sometimes.
I’ll never forget the year my mom passed away suddenly on April 5th, in the middle of tax season. I had just gotten home from work, and my dad called to tell me my mom had been rushed to the hospital.
He sounded upset and was trying to downplay the severity, but a neighbor of theirs got on the phone and told me it didn’t look good. My husband and I jumped on the first plane out of NY and flew to Florida.
After spending a few days in Florida helping my dad make arrangements, we headed back to NY. Life threw me one of the hardest curveballs I’ve ever had, but there was tax work that needed to be done, dogs and kids to be taken care of, people that needed to be contacted about my mom, arrangements to be made up in NY, and my dad to support through it all.
What had started out as a typical tax season turned into a hurricane of shock and emotions, but I also needed to take care of things at work and at home as best as I possibly could.
So whether you’ve had some small twists and turns thrown at you or some major curve balls, I’m here to remind you that you are not alone. There are some things you can begin to do to face the unexpected with grace and turn challenges into opportunities for growth.
This week I’m going to discuss the reality of being a working mom, the importance of flexibility and having coping strategies, and learning from setbacks.
The reality of being a working mom
As you know all too well, balancing a career and family life can be an exhilarating yet challenging journey. It’s essential for us to acknowledge the unique experiences that come with this role and to be kinder to ourselves when things don’t go as planned.
First, as working moms, we are masters of multitasking. We seamlessly transition between our professional roles and nurturing our families.
From attending meetings and answering emails to preparing meals and helping with homework, our days are a constant juggling act of responsibilities. While it can be overwhelming at times, we have learned to prioritize and find efficiencies to make the most of our time.
The second thing we need to acknowledge is societal expectations and stereotypes. As working moms, we often face unfair societal expectations and stereotypes, which can be both frustrating and disheartening.
Some may assume that we can’t be fully committed to our careers if we prioritize our families, while others may question our dedication as parents if we invest time in our professional growth. It’s important to recognize that these expectations and stereotypes are outdated and do not define our worth as individuals or our ability to excel in multiple domains.
We are breaking barriers and proving that we can thrive in both our personal and professional lives. And we are examples of what’s possible for others.
The third issue we need to acknowledge is that many working moms experience guilt when we can’t be physically present for our children’s activities or when we have to miss essential family moments due to work commitments. These emotional struggles can take a toll on our mental well-being.
It’s important to remember that it’s okay to feel this guilt; however, it’s crucial not to let it consume us. Finding a balance and recognizing that we are doing our best can help alleviate this emotional burden.
The fourth issue is time management and self-care. Time management is a crucial skill for working moms.
Between professional demands and family responsibilities, finding time for self-care can seem like an impossible task. Neglecting self-care, however, can lead to burnout and impact our ability to be the best versions of ourselves.
I know you’ve heard this many times, but making time for ourselves isn’t selfish; it’s a necessity. By taking care of our well-being, we can recharge and be more present and effective in both our work and family lives.
Whether it’s taking a short break to enjoy a hobby, practicing mindfulness, or seeking support from friends and family, self-care should be a non-negotiable priority.
The fifth issue we need to acknowledge is workplace challenges and support. As working moms, we often face unique challenges in the workplace, such as the need for flexible work arrangements, understanding colleagues, and supportive employers.
Having a work environment that recognizes and accommodates the needs of working moms can significantly impact our ability to thrive both personally and professionally. The truth is that advocating for ourselves and communicating our needs to our employers is essential.
When we feel supported and understood at work, it allows us to be more productive and engaged employees, benefiting both us and our organizations.
Being a working mom is a journey filled with highs and lows, victories, and challenges. Embracing the reality of this role allows us to find strength in our experiences and connect with other remarkable working moms who navigate similar paths.
Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and together, we can empower each other to embrace the joys and challenges of being a working mom.
The importance of flexibility and coping strategies
Now, let’s explore some effective coping strategies for when life throws us unexpected curveballs and things don’t go as planned. As we know, unpredictability is a constant in the life of a working mom, but with the right coping mechanisms, we can navigate through these challenges and emerge stronger than ever.
The first strategy is mindfulness and presence. When faced with unexpected changes in our plans, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.
Practicing mindfulness can help us stay grounded and centered, even in the face of uncertainty. By focusing on the present moment and accepting the situation without judgment, we can find the clarity and calmness needed to make sound decisions and adapt to new circumstances.
This was incredibly important for me when my mom suddenly passed away, and I had to finish up my tax season work. I just kept reminding myself to focus on what was in front of me instead of getting distracted by everything else.
When I was working, I focused solely on the tax information in front of me, and didn’t allow myself to get distracted with everything else going on in my personal life. When I was dealing with the arrangements for my mom’s funeral, I focused solely on that and didn’t think about work.
The second strategy is resilience and a growth mindset. Resilience is a powerful trait that allows us to bounce back from setbacks and challenges.
Embracing a growth mindset means viewing obstacles as opportunities for learning and personal growth. When things don’t go as planned, we can choose to see these moments as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks, using them to refine our skills and knowledge.
What I learned during that time of my mom’s passing was how to find calm in the midst of pressure. I learned how to find the balance between “business as usual” and dealing with loss.
The third strategy is seeking support and building a village. As working moms, we don’t have to face challenges alone. Building a strong support network is crucial for times when things veer off course.
Lean on family, friends, and fellow working moms for guidance, encouragement, and understanding. By sharing our experiences and learning from others, we can find comfort and reassurance in knowing that we’re not alone on this journey.
For me, that was letting others know what I needed at work and at home. I let others support me just like I would want to support them.
The fourth strategy is practicing self-compassion. When plans go awry, it’s easy to blame ourselves or feel like we’ve failed. However, it’s essential to treat ourselves with kindness and understanding during these moments.
Practicing self-compassion means recognizing that we’re doing our best in a complex and demanding role. By being gentle with ourselves and offering the same compassion we would extend to a friend, we can navigate through disappointments with grace and resilience.
I learned a lot about practicing self-compassion over the years. When things don’t go as planned, it’s okay to be upset, disappointed or devastated. All of your feelings are valid.
The fifth strategy is embracing flexibility. Life’s unexpected turns often require us to be flexible in our approach.
Instead of clinging rigidly to our original plans, we can embrace the power of adaptability. Being flexible allows us to think creatively, find alternative solutions, and discover new opportunities that we might not have considered otherwise.
Like many accountants, I like to have all my ducks in a row, but when things don’t go as planned, it’s important to be willing to switch gears. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s also necessary.
And the final strategy is finding moments of joy and gratitude. During challenging times, it can be uplifting to find moments of joy and gratitude in the midst of chaos.
Celebrate the small victories and find reasons to be thankful for the blessings in your life. Gratitude can help shift our perspective and provide the emotional strength needed to face unexpected challenges with a positive outlook.
As I wrote the eulogy that I would share at my mom’s memorial services, I couldn’t help but smile through the tears for the decades of joy and gratitude I had being her daughter. I told my husband that I could focus on the one day she left this world or the many years she was a vital part of my world.
While being a working mom comes with its share of unpredictable moments, by implementing these coping strategies, we can navigate through the unexpected with resilience and grace. Remember, life’s twists and turns can be opportunities for growth and learning, and it’s through these experiences that we forge our strength as working moms.
Learning from setbacks
As I’ve shared throughout this podcast, life is unpredictable, and even with the best-laid plans, we may encounter big and small obstacles and disappointments along the way. However, by embracing setbacks as opportunities for growth, we can emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before.
When faced with setbacks, taking a moment to pause and reflect can be incredibly beneficial. Rather than dwelling on the negative emotions, consider what lessons can be learned from the experience.
Reflecting on the situation helps us gain insights into what worked and what didn’t and how we can approach similar challenges differently in the future.
Another thing that is helpful is developing resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, and setbacks are the perfect testing ground for this invaluable trait.
As working moms, we have the power to adapt and persevere regardless of the obstacles that come our way. By embracing setbacks as opportunities to strengthen your resilience muscle, you can know that each hurdle you overcome prepares you for future challenges.
Another interesting thing to consider is that setbacks often reveal areas in our lives where improvement may be needed. Whether it’s in our time management, communication skills, or personal boundaries, setbacks can be wake-up calls to address these aspects of our lives.
I have learned to see setbacks as signposts guiding me toward personal and professional growth.
But no matter what, during difficult times, seeking support from loved ones, friends, or mentors can be incredibly valuable. Sharing our setbacks with trusted individuals can provide fresh perspectives, advice, and encouragement.
Remember, it’s okay to lean on others and draw strength from their support during challenging moments.
It’s also essential to be kind to ourselves when faced with setbacks. Beating ourselves up for perceived failures only adds an unnecessary burden to an already challenging situation.
Practice self-compassion by acknowledging that setbacks are a natural part of life and they do not define our worth or capabilities. And don’t forget that our children are watching how we handle when things don’t go as planned.
We need to teach them by example because they’re going to face all the normal ups and downs that we all do.
I know my children were watching how I handled that tumultuous time of my mom passing during tax season. I can only hope that they may have gained a little insight into how to handle when things don’t go as planned.
Lastly, focusing on progress, not perfection, is incredibly helpful. While setbacks can create a sense of disappointment when our plans don’t go perfectly, it’s crucial to recognize and celebrate the progress we’ve made, even if it’s not exactly what we envisioned.
As working moms, we are no strangers to setbacks, but we can choose how we respond to them. By viewing setbacks as opportunities for growth, we open ourselves to the possibility of learning and evolving from every experience.
Remember, setbacks do not diminish our worth or abilities. They are stepping stones on our journey as working moms, guiding us toward becoming stronger, wiser, and more resilient individuals.
So when things don’t go as planned, let those times empower you to face the future with determination and grace.
As you are probably well aware, balancing a career and family life can be an exhilarating yet challenging journey.
Remember, life’s twists and turns are opportunities for growth and learning, and it’s through these experiences that we forge our strength as working moms.