Last Friday, I had the honour of speaking to a group of working moms who were part of the Deloitte Career Moms Initiative network, the objective of which is to provide consistent, ongoing support for women through pregnancy, maternity leave and their return to work, and whose overarching goal is to retain women longer and increase the number of women in leadership positions. I am also an alumni of the firm, and they were interested in my career story—both as a management consultant and more recently as a mom entrepreneur—so they asked me to share some of my survival tips with them.
To be perfectly honest, the month of December is not a great time for any mom of school-age children—working or otherwise—to be feeling very much in balance and top of it all (the holiday concerts, the teachers’ gifts, the holiday travel plans…that list does go on) so I felt a little disingenuous talking on the topic. But I shared some strategies that I have used over the years and the group seemed to find them useful, and I thought I would share them here as well:
- Ask for help. As much as we want to be able to do it all, it’s the surest way to burn-out. Ask your partner to load the dishwasher, ask the kids to make their bed, ask your assistant to book your client dinner reservation, ask your mother-in-law to watch the kids while you go shopping alone…there are lots of people you can ask for help, if you just let yourself.
- Simplify. There are probably things on your list that you could live without doing so just don’t do them. For me, one of those things was holiday cards—a number of years ago, I crossed those off the list and while I do enjoy receiving them from other people, I enjoy the few minutes that not having to do them has given me back at this time of year.
- Just say no. High-performing women like us get asked to do a lot of extra things, whether it’s helping out at the school fair or hosting a visiting out-of town client for dinner, because our peers know we’ll get the job done right. But remember, you can (and should) say no to some of those requests, no excuse necessary. Just practice saying ‘I am afraid I won’t be able to help with that. My schedule won’t allow it.’
- Don’t put your home life on hold. When we get busy at work, it’s natural to put everything else on hold but all that means is that when your work project is done and the client report is delivered, you’re going to come home to a domestic disaster. So to avoid this, take a few minutes every work day to get the home front under control, whether that’s doing a drugstore run on your lunch break or grabbing a few minutes to order some gifts online.
What strategies do you have to manage it all? We’d love to hear them.