Updated: Feb 13
ID HOTELIER - Working mothers face many challenges when it comes to juggling their career and family responsibilities. They are often pulled in different directions and have to make sacrifices in order to be successful in both roles. Often, working mothers feel guilty about not being able to spend enough time with their children or not being able to give 100% to their careers. However, it is possible to achieve success in both areas if you are strategic about your time and energy management.
If you’re a woman considering motherhood and worried about how it will affect your career, know that you’re not alone. It’s a common concern, and one that is only amplified by the pressure we feel to “have it all.” However, I want to challenge the idea that having a successful career and being a great mother are mutually exclusive. I believe that with the right mindset shift, it is possible to have both. Why is that? Because I've been managing both for ten years and while I wouldn't say "I've arrived" at having this all figured out, I have gleaned some useful tips and tricks along the way. From my experience, as well as from interviewing dozens of other working mothers, I've put together the following list of 11 strategies for how to achieve career success as a working mother. But first, let’s reframe the way we think about motherhood. Instead of seeing it as an obstacle to our career goals, let’s view it as an opportunity to grow and learn. After all, becoming a parent is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences you will ever have. It will stretch you in ways you never thought possible, and force you to become more resilient and adaptable. In other words, motherhood will make you a better professional.
Side Note: I was a career-driven professional for 18 years (that's not a typo - 18!!) before having children. For my sisters reading this without children either by choice or by factors outside your control, I am not suggesting that motherhood is a necessary prerequisite for career success. You will achieve great things in your career without becoming a parent, I am simply sharing what I have learned from my own experience to encourage women who find themselves perplexed and trying to figure out this dynamic of motherhood and work. Second, let’s shift the way we think about our careers. Instead of seeing our work as something that needs to be put on hold while we raise our children, let’s view it as an integral part of our lives. Our careers can provide us with fulfillment, purpose, and a sense of identity – all important things for both mothers and their children. And when we view our careers in this light, it becomes easier to find creative ways to integrate them into our lives as parents. So if you’re wondering if it’s possible to have a great career and be a great mom, my answer is yes. But it starts with changing the way we think about these two important parts of our lives.
With this mindset shift, here are 11 strategies you can use to achieve success as a working mother: 1. Lean In The first step towards achieving career success as a working mother is to lean in and take control of your career. Don’t wait for someone else to give you the opportunity to advance – create your own opportunities. Be proactive and put yourself out there. Don't be afraid to speak up in meetings, ask for promotions, and negotiate for what you want. Network, attend industry events, and speak up in meetings. Show your boss that you are passionate about your work and that you are committed to being a top performer. Sheryl Sandberg, the former Chief Operating Officer of Meta (Facebook) and author of the bestseller Lean In, has become a powerful advocate for women in the workforce. In her book, she encourages women to take an active role in their careers and not be afraid to assert themselves. She also provides practical advice on how to navigate the challenges of work-life balance. Remember, you have just as much right to succeed in your career as anyone else. Don't shrink back – lean in and go after what you want.
2. The Mommy Track Myth Don't buy into the myth that motherhood will derail your career. Yes, you'll need to make some adjustments after having children, but that doesn't mean you have to take a step back professionally. If anything, becoming a mother can give you a renewed sense of purpose and motivation in your career. It's important to have realistic expectations and understand that you won't be able to do everything. You may need to delegate more, ask for help, and say no to some opportunities. But that doesn't mean you can't continue to progress in your career. In fact, many working mothers find that they are even more focused and efficient after having children. As you navigate your career as a working mother, don't be afraid to ask for what you need. Talk to your boss about flexible work arrangements, such as working from home one or two days a week. Determine what needs to shift and make changes as necessary. Your needs will vary depending on the ages and stages of your children and the degree of demand you have at different times at work. If you want to be successful in both your career and motherhood, always evaluate your situation and make changes as necessary. The important thing is to stay true to your goals and not let the mommy track myth hold you back. There is always a way to make it work – you just have to be creative and flexible.
3. Create a Career Vision
One of the best ways to achieve success as a working mother is to have a clear career vision so you know what you are working toward. This is key because it will become your compass when you face challenges and difficult decisions. You will use this in evaluating what you say "yes" and "no" to as you move forward. Take some time to sit down and really think about what you want to achieve in your career. What are your long-term goals? What do you want to achieve in your career? What kind of impact do you want to make? What is your definition of success? Be specific in your goals and write them down. This will help you develop a plan of action to achieve your goals and measure your progress along the way. It will also help you stay focused and motivated in your career journey. If your first instinct is to say you will do this 'later', pull out your mobile phone and use your voice-to-text feature (Hello Siri? Hello Google? Hello... you get the point) and let the AI tool transcribe your thoughts as you speak them. This way, you can come back to this 'later' without forgetting your original thought and it will make it much easier to simply edit your original thought into career vision perfection. You may be tempted to breeze past this tip but it is important to spend time on this exercise. Your career vision will change over time as your circumstances change but it is still helpful to have some sort of North Star to guide you.
4. Get Mentored or Coached One of the best ways to achieve career success as a working mother is to get mentored or coached by someone who has already achieved what you want to achieve. A mentor can provide guidance and support, while a coach can help you develop the skills you need to reach your goals. Having a mentor or coach can make a huge difference in your career journey. They can help you navigate challenges, offer advice and support, and hold you accountable for your goals. Mentors and coaches can also provide valuable networking opportunities and introduce you to new people and ideas. If you don't have a mentor or coach, consider reaching out to someone you admire and asking if they would be willing to mentor or coach you. For more on this topic, have a look at our article, "How to Make the Most Out of Your Mentor Relationship."
5. Block Out Time for Yourself In order to achieve success as a working mother, it is important to take some time out for yourself. This means blocking out time on your calendar for exercise, relaxation, and time with friends and family. It may be necessary to modify your schedule in order to make this happen, but it is well worth it! Self-care is essential for working mothers. When you take care of yourself, you are better able to take care of your family and perform at your best at work. Make sure to schedule some time for yourself every week – even if it's just 30 minutes. And don't forget to schedule some fun! Taking time out to enjoy your hobbies and interests will help you relax and recharge. You'll come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. 6. Manage Your Energy, Not Just Your Time When you are managing a career and raising children simultaneously, it is important to manage your energy as well as your time. This means taking breaks when needed, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy foods. Evaluate when you are at your highest energy levels and try to schedule your most important tasks during those times. If you are a morning person, get up early and tackle your to-do list before the kids wake up. If you find yourself more productive in the evening, use that time to work on your side hustle or catch up on email. It is also important to take breaks throughout the day. Step away from your work to play with your kids, take a walk around the block, or just take a few deep breaths. This will help you recharge and come back to your work feeling refreshed. It can be tempting to try to do it all and burn the candle at both ends. However, this is not sustainable in the long run. When you take care of yourself and manage your energy levels, you'll be able to better take care of your family and perform at your best at work.
7. Negotiate for What You Want
When it comes to achieving career success as a working mother, negotiation skills are essential. Be prepared to negotiate for flexible hours, remote work options, or even reduced hours if needed. It is also important to negotiate your salary. Don't be afraid to ask for what you're worth! Doing your research beforehand and knowing your value will help you feel confident during negotiations. For more tips on how to negotiate a raise in your salary like a pro, check out our article, "How to Ask for a Raise at Work: The Steps & Scripts You Need to Get Paid What You Deserve." This may also include negotiating project deadlines, workloads, and other expectations with your boss or team. By communicating your needs and being assertive, you can set boundaries and achieve a better work-life balance. Remember, the key is to find what works best for you and your family and to be prepared to negotiate for it. 8. Find a Community of Working Moms Raising children can be isolating at times so it can be helpful to find a community of other working mothers who can offer support and advice when needed. This can be done online or in person. There are many online communities where working mothers can connect with each other, such as Facebook groups and forums. You can also join local parenting groups or meetups. This is a great way to get out of the house and meet other moms who are going through the same thing as you. Many times, simply knowing that you are not alone can be very helpful. Having a supportive community of working mothers to turn to can make a world of difference. These relationships can provide guidance, advice, and most importantly, friendship.
9. Make Strategic Choices and Set Priorities There are only so many hours in the day so it is important to make strategic choices about how you spend your time. This means setting priorities and learning to say "no" when needed. One of the best ways to do this is to create a list of your life and career priorities (refer to #3 Career Vision). What is most important to you? What do you want to achieve in the short-term and long-term? Once you have a clear idea of your priorities, you can start making choices that align with them. For example, if your goal is to spend more time with your family, you may need to turn down projects at work, end your work day an hour earlier, or delegate some of your tasks to others. If your goal is to get promoted, you may need to invest more time in networking and building relationships with key people at your company. The most important thing is to be intentional about how you spend your time and to make choices that will help you achieve your goals. If you are feeling overwhelmed when it comes to goal setting, download my FREE Goal Setting Planner.
10. Take Care of Yourself In order to be a great mother and have a successful career, it is important to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. This means eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and taking breaks when needed. It is also important to find ways to reduce stress in your life. This may include yoga, prayer, meditation, journaling, or spending time in nature. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is okay to seek professional help. Talking to a counselor can be very helpful in managing stress and anxiety. Taking care of yourself is not selfish – it is essential. When you are physically and mentally healthy, you will be able to better take care of your family. Now if you are thinking at this point, "How is this possible? I'm already juggling a million things and I barely have time to take a shower let alone add anything else to my plate." I get it, I really do. Here's a little tip that helped me immensely and that is time blocking. Time blocking is when you schedule out your day in hour increments and for each hour, you assign a task. This could be anything from working on a project, to taking a break, to picking up the kids from school. By scheduling out your day, you are more likely to get things done and less likely to feel overwhelmed. Let's take exercise, for example, you could block out one hour for lunch on your calendar but in practice, you could use 30 minutes to eat and 30 minutes to take a walk. If you don't have time for a full hour of exercise, 30 minutes is still better than zero. My motto is, "Some is better than None." As a working mother, changing your mindset is key to getting in all the things that are important and not letting the things that are important fall by the wayside. This means finding shortcuts or being creative with your time.
11. Lean Out Sometimes There will be times when you need to lean out in order to lean in. This may mean saying no to an opportunity at work that would take away from your family time. For example, if you are asked to travel for work, but it would mean being away from your family for an extended period of time, you may need to lean out and decline the offer. It is also important to lean out during difficult times in your personal life. If you are going through a divorce or you are caring for a sick family member, it may not be the right time to focus as much on your career. This is when you need to prioritize your family and lean out from work for some time. The most important thing is to be aware of what is going on in your personal life and make choices that are best for you and your family. Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot handle. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is okay to take a step back. There is no shame in putting your family first. In fact, it is one of the bravest things you can do. No matter what you choose to do, remember that there is no one right way to achieve career success as a working mother. What works for one mother may not work for another. The most important thing is to be true to yourself and to make choices that are best for you and your family.
Final Thoughts There is no one-size-fits-all answer to achieving career success as a working mother. No one has the exact same career journey and as a working mother, you will likely face many different challenges along the way. However, by following the tips in this article, you can create a plan that works for you and your family. Remember to be patient, flexible, and persistent, and to focus on your career vision. Most importantly, take care of yourself both physically and emotionally so that you can maintain your energy and productivity. Lean out sometimes to spend time with your family, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. With a clear, actionable plan and a positive attitude, you can achieve career success as a working mother. You got this! Let's Hear From You! What tips have you found helpful for achieving career success as a working mother? What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them? Share your stories and advice in the comments below!
Becky Vinton - talent strategist with over 20 years' experience improving the effectiveness of organizations and enhancing employee experience as a global human resources leader and business consultant. She holds an MBA Degree and several certifications including Human Capital Strategist by the Human Capital Institute.
I created Your Inspired Career to help people like you find the answers they need for a successful career and enriched life. I'm on a mission to help you thrive at work, further your life goals, achieve your career dreams & reach your full potential.