JetSet Mama – You can Have it All!

Are you one of those women who try to balance it all? Juggling work, career ambitions, raising kids, looking after household and trying to excel in all aspect of life…. I think this is one of the biggest challenges of the 21 century. Can a woman have it all? I was pretty disappointed when a Hollywood celebrity, entrepreneur and a mother of 2 children Drew Barrymore said in her interview to Forbes that: women can’t “have it all—at least not in the same moment.” On one hand, it is totally true. It seems almost impossible. On another hand, many women have done it and proved it, that its absolutely possible.

Recently more and more powerful women from business and politics have been empowering women to stand up for their rights, potential and ambition. It was finally good to get a re-assurance that its not ‘bad’, awkward or unusual for a woman to go after what she wanted – to achieve her potential in a work place and be a caring mom. Some recent studies also suggest that children benefit from having a working mom. According to research by Kathleen McGinn  and Harvard Business School: “Women whose moms worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time”. So, lets talk about working mamas.

Before I had children I thought my life as a career woman, as a traveller and as a fun person would be over when I have children. I had this image in my head…a woman taking care of her child until it can go to child care or pre-school. In Russia a woman is entitled to 3 years of unpaid maternity leave. As a patriarchal society, Russia’s labour law encourage women take off work as much as they please, because their role on this planet Earth is very simple, its being a caretaker of the family. Being internationally minded and open to options like having a nanny I have decided that I could not sit at home for more then a few months.

My parents were happy to help out as well, and I had a few good reasons to be excited to go back to work. The company I was working for has been going through a few changes, we were preparing for IPO and I was promoted to Vice President. I didn’t want to miss anything as a professional and I wanted to continue to climb my career ladder. But what was equally important is the bond with my first born. I was dedicated to breastfeeding. And I would never miss for the world to see my daughter’s development stages, reaching milestones and saying for the first time the word “mama”. In order to achieve all of that, I knew I had to have a flexible work schedule, reduce my international travel, and make the best from being able to work at home. Oh, and don’t forget, that your partner also needs your attention. So, how do you have it all, career progression, being there for your child and make sure you give your partner quality time? Here is what works for me, it may not be a solution for you, but it least this is how I could describe – Have it all, ladies!

  1. Get help, help, help as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends to help to babysit, to have play days, night overs or just to cover for you when you are at a meeting or doing your nails or having dinner with your husband. Well, and of course you can always hire a professional help. There are many alternative options if you can not afford a professional nanny. You can hire an au per, find a suitable nursery or day care.
  2. Learn to multitask. Women who work and look after family have to be pretty good at organizing their schedule, and doing a few tasks in one go. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is not about “piling on the work” to the point of exhaustion. It’s about training the brain to channel energy in an efficient and effective manner so you can accomplish more in less time. There are plenty of advice on the internet how to get better at multitasking and of course you can always take a course or a training on that.
  3. Quality time spend with kids is what matters not amount of time. I used to feel quality to have someone else to look after my child while I was working. But you know what, after some time I realized that quality matters more then quantity of time. RecentWashington Post reviles the financings of new studies that suggested “when parents maximize the time they do spend by engaging in relationship-building activities such as reading, talking, or eating together, this time is more beneficial to children than simply trying to spend as much as together as possible”.
  4. Don’t feel quilty! A new report from the Journal of Marriage and Family found that showing signs of stress, like guilt and anxiety, could have a negative impact on children. Researchers and parenting experts now encourage parents to ease up on the guilt.
  5. Another important aspect is attitude. If you think, feel and believe in that you can have it all, you will. Did you read a book by Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead? You may find some pretty good tips about how to stay self driven and motivate yourself to have it all.
  6. Flexible working schedule is the key. I understand that not everybody is able to do that. Working from home is also a luxury that is not available to all. However, it is possible in our modern day era with excellent communication channels, technical advantages and acceptance by business to provide such schedules for working mamas.
  7. Lifestyle is also important. What I mean is how much do you sleep, do you have enough energy to keep up with your busy schedule? Simply go to sleep as early as you can, so you can get a proper rest. Eat healthy, exercise, have at least a few minutes a day just for yourself. Find time for your hobby or something you simply enjoy doing like a walk in a park or meditation.
  8. You deserve some fun! So, get your hair down once in a while. Its important to let your demons out and just have fun night with your girlfriends, pals or your partner. Have a drink, go dancing, take a girls trip or have a SPA break. You are still you and having fun is important.