The Balancing Act

The Balancing Act

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If life is a balancing act, motherhood is like juggling while walking across a tightrope. We know their professional jobs as CEO, Director of Marketing, CFO, but these titles do little to truly capture what they REALLY do every day. We spoke with four inspiring women who shared their insights and experiences on motherhood, money, and balancing their careers with their families. The perspectives they each shared show the differences and complexities that come with raising children of different ages and at different points in each of their careers. As you will read below, the balancing never stops but the strategies evolve over time.

• Amy | Director of Development | 10th grader and 8th grader
• Cecilia | Community Relations and Development | 12-year-old and 2-year-old
• Ellen | Community Management Professional | 1.5-year-old and one on the way
• Georgia | Realtor | 2-year-old and one on the way

Q. The illusive “balance”; What advice would you give to women who can’t seem to find the right formula for balancing their career and their family?

Identifying what “balance” means for you individually and knowing that the “balance” is always a moving target is the most important part of balancing a career and a family. Sometimes work will be busier and more demanding, sometimes family engagements and schedules rise to the top of the priority list. – Amy

• Drawing hard boundaries for myself and sticking to them. These are hours in which I am available and these are hours when I am not. It allows you to dedicate yourself and focus your energy on one task or area of life at a time. – Ellen

• Practice the oxygen mask philosophy. You need to take care of yourself before you take care of others. This is definitely not being selfish; It’s necessary. – Cecilia

• My advice is to accept the fact that you can’t do it all and it’s okay to ask for help or to have your child in daycare. I am a better parent to my daughter when we’re not together 24/7 and I am better at my job, which ultimately supports her and my family. – Georgia

Q. Being a mom doesn’t go away when your children get older – their needs simply change. Going from mom-CEO to mom-consultant can be tricky. What are some things you can do to set healthy boundaries? 

• Create clear family values. Be consistent with follow through and expectations. Give your children the room to become their own people, make mistakes, find their own interests and passions, and support them when they need it. – Amy

• Be fully present. With the rise in use of and dependency on our phones, it gets harder to be fully present. Try to keep certain times (like family meals) phone free. We have to enforce this as parents first because our children are watching. When we ask our kids to be present, we have to ensure that we, too, are fully present. Know what counts and matters to your kids. Your children still and will always need you, but the way you show up may be different. For a toddler, it might mean trying not to pass up the opportunity to draw pictures, do a puzzle, or go to the park together. For a “tweenager,” it might mean listening as she talks about the dynamics of her friendships or about her current crush. – Cecilia

Q. Having the family money talk is often something families avoid at all costs. What actions have you taken to ensure that your kids understand the family money at each stage of their lives?

• We try to emphasize the importance of education, setting goals, hard work, and the privileges it’s allowed for our family. We are also constantly talking about the importance of giving back. – Amy

• We try to put things in perspective by having our children do chores in order to get their allowance. When the complaining begins, (for example, when it’s time to do the dishes), we remind them that people in our state make about $7-10/hour for this kind of work (before taxes). We have them think about how long they would have to do chores or how many dishes they’d have to do in order to make their allowance in the “real world.” When we go shopping, we have our children pay for their own things outside of necessities like food. The money they get for their birthdays, special occasions, etc. are for them to purchase the items they “want” and don’t get added to the bank of mom and dad tab. – Cecilia

Q. A working mom can spend a lot of her day on a computer or sitting at a desk. How do you carve out time to manage your physical health?

• This is the million-dollar question! Being intentional about carving out time for myself has been key. A walk with the dog and a podcast every morning to get coffee works for me right now. I might not be in the best shape of my life, but I try to accept where I am right now and celebrate what I am doing and not beat myself up for what I am not doing. – Amy

• Setting a block on the calendar to get up and move around, and taking a walking call on the phone when possible. More often than not, getting in that time can be challenging, but playing with a toddler after work can certainly count as a workout, as well! – Ellen

• For the days I can’t fit in a solid 20-30-minute workout, I tried to disguise my exercise – take the stairs, do an extra circle around the building before returning to my desk, walk to work, etc. – Cecilia

• I go for walks, hikes, bike rides, etc. with my friends, with my kid, or during breaks at work. This way I’m hitting multiple birds with one stone – I’m seeing my friends, getting some vitamin D and getting a little exercise. My days of going to the gym are over, at least for now. I want to spend as much time with my kid as I can, so taking 2 hours to go to the gym after work isn’t a reality anymore. – Georgia

Q. How has working made you a better mom? What work lessons have you translated into motherhood?

• My mom was a stay-at-home mom until high school, and I always admired her for going back to school for her master’s degree and becoming a high school counsellor. She had spent much of her life raising us four kids, and now she was sharing her talents with others. This shift inspired me to want to find my own career and passion, so I always knew I would be a working mom. I find fulfillment and identity in my work which allows me to be a more present and productive mom to my boys. It gives our life structure and balance, even though that comes with a lot of juggling priorities. More than anything, I am a role model to my boys. They have a strong, independent woman in their lives—they are often my biggest cheerleaders and have become more flexible, resilient and independent along the way. “How was your day?” is often the topic of conversation at the dinner table at home. Sharing my experiences—both my accomplishments and my setbacks—are all lessons and stories that I can share with my children. – Amy

• Navigating situations where things are not under control is a common occurrence, both at work and in motherhood. Having a young child who is unable to communicate with you adds a layer of complexity! But after many years in the working world and learning how to work with different personalities, learning to communicate with your child is no different. – Ellen

• I have an identity outside of the home. This may not seem big, but for many women, having an identity outside of the household may be challenging. I have been cautioned by many moms to find something outside of the household, away from your family, to define yourself by and be passionate about. This identity helps ground me, feeds my personal needs, and allows me to show up as a confident caregiver and parent. – Cecilia

Q. Saying yes can be easier than saying no but at what cost? What can you share about the art of saying no.

• The ability to say no and set boundaries can be difficult but sometimes is necessary to find the balance in your life. Saying no can be hard, (and you often disappoint someone), but I have found that knowing my own limits and staying true to myself ensures a happier household and happier self. – Amy

• Saying “no” is an art that can be difficult, but empowering. I recently heard a saying that every priority comes at a cost. We each have our own capacity and resources, and time impacts both. Since time is finite, being a present mom, a supportive spouse, and a diligent employee means I sometimes have to turn down something else. – Cecilia

Our Key Takeaways:

• Everyone has their own unique way to make it work, and sometimes your way may not work for someone else and vice versa.

• In order to be the best role model, it’s important to prioritize taking care of yourself first.

• There are many creative ways to teach your children about money, whether it be through charitable giving, an allowance, or explaining needs versus wants.

• Setting boundaries both in your personal and professional life can be challenging initially but will help with time and expectation management in the long run.

These inspiring women show us that mothers are creative and passionate about tackling their jobs both as parents and professionals. At Treehouse Wealth Advisors, we’re prepared to make the juggling act a little bit easier on you. Inspired on a daily basis by our clients’ commitment to living full, healthy, and balanced lives as they juggle careers, families, and all of life’s ups and downs, we are here to help lighten your load by taking the burden of financial planning off your plate. Reach out today to learn about how we can help.

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