How I Balance Career & Family
Sitting down to write this article, I had all kinds of tips on goal setting, self-care, prioritization and workdays vs. weekends running through my head. I planned to share how I (attempt to) juggle my own job and family — constantly striving to fulfill my many roles while still finding time for myself. But then I realized something: Hey, Whit…you have a pretty unusual career. Most moms may not see “Try to schedule all photoshoots and blog content creation for the same day of the week” as a practical tip. So, like many nimble entrepreneurs before me, I’ve decided to pivot.
I can only speak with confidence when I speak from my own experiences. And the truth is, my experiences aren’t as relevant to some moms as they are for others. I’m on TV. I have my own podcast and have built a business on connecting with fans and followers. I am fortunate enough to have a part-time nanny and a husband with whom I share family responsibilities equally. I wondered what I could say that could resonate with every kind of working mom — from the nine-to-fivers and the work-at-homers to the single moms working multiple jobs to put food on their family tables. Then, I reached what I believe to be a universal truth: it’s what we do that matters, not what we don’t do.
ALL YOU CAN DO IS YOUR BEST
The most important thing (okay, the TWO most important things) I want to tell working moms is that doing your best is the best thing for your family, and that there is no shame in asking for help or trusting others to care for your children when you need to work. That kind of guilt has no place in modern motherhood.
No matter who you are or what your situation is, I have mad respect for working moms. As one myself, I acknowledge the realities and challenges we face. I’m lucky enough to have a fulfilling career that I love, and even so, it often pains me when I have to prioritize my work over my family. I want to be the best mother, wife, friend AND professional I can be, but I’ve learned that the perfect balance is illusive, and that all moms have to cut themselves some slack sometimes.
BALANCE TAKES PRACTICE
In my attempts to find some semblance of balance, I’ve learned to organize my life in a way that makes space for what’s important. Admittedly, I’m not a successful juggler every single day, but I’m working on it. Mornings and evenings are family time. Period. We have a no-phone rule after 7pm, and I’m learning to say “no” to work opportunities that will upset the delicate equilibrium I’m working to achieve. I’m also trying to let myself off the hook at the times when I’m stretched too thin and our beloved nanny is caring for my son more than I am. I remind myself: building relationships with people other than his parents will help Sonny grow into a more well-rounded, independent person. I can’t always be there, and I am grateful that there are so many wonderful people and programs that provide options to working parents.
My advice to busy moms in search of balance is to adopt helpful habits and give yourself credit when you succeed. Consider writing out separate to-do lists for your kids, your household, your job, your partner and your friends/family. If you can check even one thing off each list in a day, call that a victory. And on days when one or two of your lists don’t get any checks, try to prioritize those areas of your life tomorrow. New day, fresh start. Also, embrace the power of routines. Make your morning and/or nighttime routines sacred and use them to connect with your kids, especially if you have to spend the rest of the day away at work.
I SALUTE YOU
I recognize that some moms don’t have a choice when it comes to their work schedules. Many of you have jobs that require long hours and strict shifts, which means you have to make really tough decisions about childcare and how you spend your time at home. This shouldn’t cause you stress. In fact, this should make you proud. Think of what a strong example you’re setting for your children: teaching them about work ethic, independence and female empowerment.
As they grow, your kids will appreciate and respect how hard you work for them.
For parents who get weekends off, make family a priority on those days. My husband Timmy and I don’t make plans on Friday or Saturday nights because that’s our time to be with each other and our son. Being there when your kids wake up, making breakfast, spending the day together, and tucking them in — even just on weekends — can make all the difference if you feel like you can’t be as present during the work week.
LET’S SPARK CHANGE
While many employers are heading in the right direction, our country still has a long way to go when it comes to the treatment of mothers in the workplace. It definitely depends on where you work, but I can’t overemphasize the importance of asking for what you need to be productive, comfortable and content at work. After all, your job doesn’t stop when you clock out. You still have tiny humans to care for in your “off hours” (cue the sarcasm on that one).
It’s up to all of us to normalize the conversation around flexibility for working moms. Think about what would make a meaningful difference for you personally. Maybe it’s asking to leave at 5pm two nights a week so you can have dinner with your family. Or perhaps it’s requesting more hours on days you have childcare so you can be at home with your kids one full day every week. The more moms (and dads!) ask for what they need, the more it will teach companies how to treat working parents and how to create smarter policies. After all, speaking up is a win-win for everyone because happy employees are higher-performing employees, and that’s a fact.
So, to all the working moms out there, I want you to know that while our typical days may look different, I’m with you. I see you, I hear you, I get you, and more than anything, I tip my hat to you. We’re in this together, and it’s an honor to be part of your tribe.