Being a mom has emphasized my desire to have the career I want.
I want a career that is fulfilling, challenging, worthwhile andflexible. I am equal parts motivated to be my best self for my child and to go after what I want. I have a sense of urgency to find what I truly desire more than ever. Let’s just say I had a bad case of “mom guilt” when I came back from maternity leave. I felt crushed that I was spending so much time at work and leaving my child with another person all day. I felt I was going to miss all the big moments and he would surely grow up to resent me.
Then, I shifted my thinking.
I knew the work I was doing and wanted to continue to do was important. My ultimate purpose was to make a positive impact in my community. My son, without even knowing it, inspires me more than anyone to go after the career I want. In order to do that I know I need to focus on my personal and professional development. Easier said than done. With limited time and energy it can be hard to think about adding another commitment to my schedule. Networking can be time consuming but I don’t think it’s all about attending happy hours and informational interviews. This article from Harvard Business Review touches on the importance of just showing up and telling people about your professional goals.
Below I am going to lay out some of my goals and tips for achieving personal and professional development while balancing the demands of being a parent.
Focus on mental/internal self-care
When people talk about self-care I used to get a little annoyed. My idea of self-care was taking a shower. I think that I got so focused on the idea of physical self-care that I neglected the idea of mental and internal self-care. Some ways to do this include listening to podcasts, meditate for five minutes on your lunch break and practice daily gratitude.
Take time for yourself
This is probably the hardest thing for me to do. As people who work in the nonprofit sector, we are often caught in the helping profession mentality. I have a hard time putting myself first but it is so important to do. Your family and coworkers will thank you for it.
Work/life balance is a thing
My supervisor legitimately made me delete apps off my phone over the weekend so I wouldn’t work. Bringing my work home with me is so easy to do. I enjoy my job and I never feel like I get as much done in a day as I would like. I quickly realized that if I didn’t have time to re-energize over the weekend, then come Monday I was kind of irritable and exhausted. This article outlined some really great points about why it can be hard to achieve work life balance as a millennial mother.
Ask for help
This is so crucial to personal development and makes professional responsibilities so much more manageable. Asking for help might not be the easiest thing and martyrdom is something that I have come across a lot in the non-profit profession. Taking on everything possible not only drains us mentally and physically but it will likely end up hurting your productivity in the end. Erica Winegar touched on the importance of asking help her blog post about lessons learned as a new parent.
Network in house
Networking is so important but I will admit that it is not on the top of my list of activities I want to do after a long day at work. A way around this is to network in house. I am lucky enough to work at a place with colleagues from diverse career and educational backgrounds and it’s likely you do too. Set up an informational interview at lunch or volunteer to be on a committee with someone you want to work with more.
Join Committees or planning teams at work
This is a concrete step that I have taken to broaden my skill set and interact with colleagues and members of leadership that I normally wouldn’t. Committee meetings are usually during work hours so there usually aren’t many commitments outside of your normal hours.
Is this what they call a shameless plug? Finding a group of like-minded individuals to connect with professionally is so important. Joining YNPN has afforded me professional development opportunities that work with my busy #momlife schedule, like writing this blog. I am currently writing this while watching Riverdale and listening to my son snore through the baby monitor.
If you're interested in learning more, here are some additional resources.
- Here is a great Ted Talk on work life balance and what it means in the professional landscape today.
- This is a great article from the Harvard Business Review on the importance of networking
- This article outlines some of the overlooked priorities for working moms. I found the sections about personal development and cultivating contacts especially relevant.
- The title of this article is pretty self-explanatory.
- This is a blog written by fellow a non-profit mother. I found that these lessons really hit home some of what I have felt after returning to work.
- Here is a podcast I have really been getting into. Oprah is always good for inspirational content. I listen to podcasts on my commute home to help me recharge.
Please Note: Each blog is written by the individual author, and the views expressed may not be shared by all YNPN members.