It might be a new year, but for most, the new year brings the same amount of busyness. Juggling family commitments is a challenge for parents everywhere, but even more so for working moms.

As a working mom myself (and now grandma) for more than 30 years, I’ve learned some tricks to manage the madness of having a full career and family life. These tips helped me raise three kids while climbing the corporate ranks of Alberto Culver (a large beauty product conglomerate) all the way up to the position of Executive Chair of the board. I am a strong advocate for the important understanding that it is possible for career growth to coexist with a full family life and that working moms make great employees.

MAKING CHOICES & LEARNING TO SAY NO

The top lesson I learned is that you need to be okay with saying “no.” Everybody wants a competent person to take on more, but even the strongest people can break. Learn to say “no” and feel okay with it. Prioritize your responsibilities and pass on or delegate the nonessentials. And in those moments where you are overwhelmed, take a moment, hang on and breathe. And remember that it’s perfectly okay to say, “I’m a little overwhelmed right now.”

ROOM MOM

As a working mom, I found that one fun way to be a part of my kids’ classrooms was to be a “room mom.” I could provide the games and treats and take a couple half-days off to partake in special classroom happenings. My kids loved helping make the party bags or plan classroom activities with me and, frankly, it was a fun way to be a part of their school life. Plus, it let me avoid the politics that I found in some other PTO committees.

A MOM’S LEGACY

A tough reality to accept: Being a working mom means you have to miss a lot. We can never be at every concert, game, or field trip. But perhaps we leave a greater legacy:

  • A working mom teaches her daughter every day that being feminine is a good thing, but so is strength, independence and self-worth.

  • We raise our sons with the understanding that women are equals, that a mom can be a great cook, a business person and a respected partner in life and work.

  • Working moms make America’s workplaces better for all of us. The environment is a little kinder and more values-based when we carry our family values into the office. Smart companies realize how these values build a better workforce and give a powerful boost to sales and profits each and every day.

  • The path we forge will, we hope, make it easier for our daughters and granddaughters and build a place where our sons can be better men.

I urge you to remember these legacies when you feel those pangs of guilt. Let go of the image of the “perfect mom” who crushes it at the office, keeps a spotless home and always has dinner on the table by 7 p.m. It’s a myth. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if your home is super clean. Do the best you can and show your kids you love them. My philosophy is, if you love your kids, they’ll be okay. Love is pretty magical stuff.