There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one. – Jill Churchill
As every working mum knows, juggling a job and kids can drive you crazy at times. Throw in the extra time involved in figuring out a career change, studying or searching for a job and the wheels can start to fall off pretty quickly.
When I changed careers my son was only 20 months old and my marriage had recently ended. To say my timing was a little off is like saying Donald Trump is a little controversial.
But regardless of your circumstances I want to let you know that you can do this. Maybe it will take you a little longer than you would like. You will need to be adaptable and get creative for sure, but managing a career change when you have kids is doable.
Here are a few tips that I learned from changing careers with a kid:
1) Have a (flexible) schedule
When it comes to your schedule, I would have to say, please don’t try and be a superhero. I’ve worked nights. Early mornings. While my son napped, played or ate. You do what you have to do in these situations. But I also came close to burning myself out a couple of times and I learned that the only workable answer is to get help.
I know there are people out there who talk about how they get up at 3am or stay up until 2am to fit their work in around their kids. I honestly have no idea how anyone can do that. For me there was little joy in getting up at 5am every day and I get run down when I burn the candle at both ends. You’re going to need support during this time. Hire someone or call in free babysitting favours and give yourself some space.
2) Let go of guilt
I’m a mother therefore I must feel guilty if I’m not with my children on a 24/7 basis. If you feed this collective guilt our society perpetuates around motherhood you are just hurting yourself and other mothers, so let it go. Remind yourself that what you are doing will ultimately benefit your family and make a conscious decision not to buy into the guilt. You’re a great mum and you are doing your best.
3) Forget perfect
If you are studying do you really have to get an A in every subject? While I was studying my mantra became ‘done is better than perfect’ and it served me well. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to excel in your new field but there will be times when you will have to compromise. Do your best and let the imperfections go.
4) Edit your life
I highly recommend you streamline or edit your life in any way you can during a career transition. I’m not talking about fun or social activities because you still need your downtime. Instead look for obligations that fill time you could use for study or working towards your career plans. What needs to come off your plate so that you can achieve what you want? Whose needs are you prioritising? Some of these decisions will be tough but you will thank yourself in the long run.
5) Always trust your heart and your gut
The truth is you know best. Not the gurus. Not your mentors. Not your boss. You alone can make the right decision for you. Even when you don’t know how you’re going to manage it all and you just want to hide in your car with chocolate, you will figure it out.
It’s a juggle managing your career when you have kids, whether you’re going through a career change or not. Be gentle with yourself when things don’t work out and then course correct.
Thankfully most decisions are not irreversible so you can always make a different choice.
What tips do you have for juggling motherhood and work?