#girlboss to #careermom
As a girlboss passionate about careers, I've always prioritized my career SUPER high. And no doubt--I'm a career coach, so I can talk career stuff all day and never get bored.
But the moment I became a mom, my world flipped completely upside down and while I've been "Mom" for almost 3 years now to my 2 boys, in many ways, I still feel like a new mom. The hubs and I intentionally waited until our mid-30's to even start having kids, and we were very fortunate to have it happen so quickly. But just because you become a parent doesn't mean that you suddenly put on your "mom" or "dad" hat and everything else about your former life just turns off naturally. How many parents can relate with me?
It's taken me almost 3 years to (FINALLY) feel good about being mom and learning that I can be Me at the same time. I've had to learn how to let go in order to let more in, and that is probably the hardest part for me--letting go of aspects of my pre-mom life. "Letting go" made me realize that I really wasn't as flexible to change as I thought -- and for a long time I felt shame and failure for this. I kept thinking, "I should be able to squeeze in blogging during nap times" or "I should be able to meet my girlfriends for drinks after work." And whenever I couldn't do these things (more often than not), I internalized it greatly and thought the worst.
As I've learned to let go of my girlboss ways and embrace my transition to careermom, I wanted to share with new parents, and especially soon-to-be parents out there some things I started doing as often as I could (or when I could remember) to help me become the parent and careermom I want to be. Because the happier I became in my home space, the happier I was with my career.
Let go of perfection, the "shoulds" and "coulds". When you become a parent, life just gets messier, busier, out-of-control at times, and I've had to learn how to just ride the waves and go along with it. The moment that I became ok with the clean laundry pile instead of being neatly folded away was life changing. This also meant being ok with just doing enough to keep my Judi Fearless dream alive, which really meant, working on me behind the scenes, like getting sleep or eating. Every notion I had about "this is what I'll do when my kid is born" went out the window. You just don't know what life's going to be like with kids until you actually have the kid. No one tells you about clusterfeeding--they just tell you about sleepless nights. No one told me that my kids will absolutely despise sweet potatoes or have gluten allergies -- so McDonald's french fries it is. Accepting that this is how it is and this moment will pass are simple ways to momentary bliss.
Pick your battles. When you are both extremely sleep deprived and hungry because you are putting your kids' needs first, it takes every fiber of your being to keep your shit together. Do you know what I mean? The emotional, cavepeople responses are on rapid fire without a thought at any stressful moment, but during those times, remember to take deep breaths. Sometimes I walk away. Often it was the hubs and me agreeing to table our conversation until the morning, and doing that made all the difference. A happier you means everyone around you can be happier, and you can even handle your workday better.
Take everything one day at a time. Working on your side hustle / business, having a full-time gig, working out, eating healthy, having a clean home, etc. seems so effortless looking back to my pre-mom days. With kid(s), they have replaced many of these activities, and letting go of plans was very hard for me. Since all of these activities are very important, I've had to scale back and be ok with plans for the day not happening because one of my kids has a fever. Accepting that I can only get done what I can get done today and reflecting on all that happened before I go to bed has helped me see small victories, even if that meant I didn't do anything except have wonderful moments with my kiddoes.
Create boundaries and get good at saying, "No." Pre-kids, it's a lot easier for me to recognize now that I was a people pleaser and saying no whenever anyone asked me for help was really hard. But luckily, I had the schedule at the time to keep almost all of my commitments. But post-kids-- there is simply not enough time in the day to say yes to everyone. This was especially challenging for me, but after baby #2, I'm pretty much unapologetic in saying no, even learning how to ask many questions before committing, like, "how long will this take?", "how many days do we need to meet," or "how will this benefit me?" Every single moment I spend on something else is a minute away from my family, and understanding that tradeoff and time being my greatest resource has made saying no a lot easier.
Prioritize your life and your career choices. Time is the most precious resource that you cannot get back, and everything is a tradeoff. Realize that since you can't do it all right now, decide on what's the most important to you and do those well. Focusing on what absolutely needs to get done and still working on the "important, not critical" are winning moments. The moment I became mom, the first thing to go was my personal time and Judi Fearless time. In order to do both, which are important, I had to schedule brief moments of time each week to do activities for both and learned how to scale back. I had to let go of weekly motivational videos and blogs or being on my iPhone for social media status updates for a while in order to prioritize re-evaluating my brand and new goals generated from parenthood.
Do what you love whenever you can. List all of the important tasks needed to keep your dream alive. Keep creating whenever and wherever you can. For me, that meant watching TED videos, blogging on my iPhone, or taking professional development courses while breastfeeding instead of binge-watching Netflix. Other times, this meant skipping naps when my kids napped in order to work. Having a prioritized list of tasks helps and knowing what to scale back on. Remember, the aim here is not perfection--it's keeping our dream alive for you!
Take mental and physical breaks. These mental and physical breaks are priceless because these are MY moments. My 15 minutes in the day to do whatever I please. And new parents can relate--sometimes just taking a long hot shower or using the toilet in peace. I try to workout as often as I can, less for managing my weight, but more for clearing out the fog in my head and staying healthier to stay alive longer with my kids. These breaks help me "woosah" my way out of overreacting much quicker, and there are tons of studies out there which validate working out to get your blood flowing, endorphins rising, and all over goodness to your life.
Dress up, even if you're staying at home. This has helped me stay in the professional mindset while I’m working from home. It also helped me to reinforce for myself that I'm a woman first, every other role second. I needed to redefine my version of "fearless sexy" to boost my confidence. Taking quick showers, putting on some eyeliner and mascara, and wearing cuter-than-normal athleisure wear helped me tackle through my postpartum days with more bounce in my step. And like with everything else, a positive mental state is necessary to take on any obstacle.
Talk to other parents. As a new parent, having someone else by your side who can relate to your transition into parenthood is critical for your survival. You need someone who can answer your tons of questions about types of strollers, breastfed vs bottle-fed, which parks are the best, "should I be worried about this rash on my baby's arm?"--all the questions. Spending time with other parents helped me feel my new normal. And while they might never understand the type of person you were pre-parent, they will understand that at one point, you were a human before your kids, and having this relatable quality is amazing.
Be present with your babies. Once your kids enroll in Kindergarten, life will change again, so enjoy these moments when they still want you around and adore you. Newborns to toddlers to the rest of their childhood--these are the moments that you won't ever get back. Give them your undivided attention for spans of time whenever you can. Like I said, the laundry can wait, and your work will still be there. For me, accepting that my babies will only be babies once helped me to let go of the notion of perfection because my messy, chaotic moments with my kids are perfection. The schnuggles and cuddles I get after a long day, hearing them call "Mama" out before "Dad" are priceless, and I want them to remember me--not me behind a phone or shooing them away because I'm busy doing something else. Just me.
I'm sure there are plenty of other things other parents would add to this list. I'm so thankful for my little brood, my true legacy. And here I am getting all emotional again just thinking about them. So to all of you girlbosses who are or are about to be careermoms and dads/soon-to-be-dads-- hugs to you and your ba(b)es. It's great knowing you're out there in the community of parents all around. I'm (finally) glad to be in the community, too =)