Millennials are the single largest generation in the U.S. workforce at a time when 70 percent of women are active within it, too. We’re bridging long-standing gender gaps in the workplace and pursuing college at significantly higher rates than men—the reverse was true only a couple decades ago.
What’s more, millennial women don’t want to hold just any position within a company—a lot of us plan to run the whole show. According to a recent survey, over three-quarters of female millennials voiced a desire to start their own companies.
We’re breaking glass ceilings in the workplace and heavily pursuing boss-lady aspirations, so some might assume we’re less focused on starting a family, right? Wrong. Millennial women value motherhood. The same research above revealed that family was our first priority, ahead of our careers.
The good news is that, today, you don’t have to choose between success in the workplace (or in your own company) and being a good mother. After launching a startup and simultaneously raising a two-year-old (with another baby on the way), I now have a theory that being a mom actually helps you do better in your profession and vice versa. Here are a few things that allow me to successfully juggle two full-time jobs.
Mastering work-mom balance
As a Type A personality, I was used to being in control of every situation. Having a child quickly teaches you that you can’t control most things. You’re at the will of another human being. The experience forces you to let others help and to become way more flexible when the unexpected pops up.
Going with the flow and mastering the balancing act is vital. Your child will end up sick on the day of an investor meeting or a client pitch—you’ll work it out and life will go on. Moms learn to think quickly on their feet like no other.
A support system is your key to success. While you may want to handle everything yourself, that’s not always realistic—nor humanly possible—and adds a lot of extra stress. Delegate. You have to trust others to help you achieve your goals. It makes you a better leader for your team and family, giving others the chance to step up and lead a bit themselves.
Plan your time wisely
Dedicate enough time to give work and your kids their own attention—don’t try to do both at once. There will be days when multitasking happens, but make an effort to keep your parenting time separate from work. I allocate 6 to 8 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. to “mommy time” each day without any work interruption—no exceptions. Your children grow so fast, you won’t want to even blink, let alone worry about distractions like your phone or email.
Make time for self-care. Exercise, read a book or enjoy a peaceful meal. When I don’t set aside time to regroup alone, I’m more likely to feel burnt out on a project or exhausted at home.
There’s no “good time”
You won’t find a perfect time in your career or life, to become a mom. While I tried to plan, there may never be an ideal moment to start. You’ll never feel totally prepared, but you’ll learn and perfect your skills along the way. No matter when you have kids, you’ll have to adapt and manage new priorities.
Being a founder and a new mom actually worked well for me and I know a lot of peers who agree. One reason is that new parents are more motivated to succeed; your passion and drive elevate as you’re working for your little one’s benefit, too. You learn how precious time is and make every minute count. As an entrepreneur, you have more responsibility but it comes with flexibility, too.
If you’re an employee within a company, you may never wake up one day with enough ownership over your schedule to imagine time for children—but at the end of the day, your responsibilities are shared and you have a team to help pull the weight.
The right childcare
Do not feel guilty about sending your child to daycare. A positive early care environment is beneficial to their development and social skills and to your sanity. A little time away also helps your child become more independent—they’ll likely surprise you with their own interests and a personality that starts blooming naturally.
Convenient and affordable care is a game changer and number one factor in navigating your life as a working parent with success. It allows you the option to enjoy a career and a family, along with flexibility, time and peace of mind. Having confidence in your childcare makes all the difference—when a meeting runs late or you inevitably hit traffic, you know your child is in the care of someone you trust.
After becoming pregnant with my first, I was shocked by the lack of quality care I witnessed and it led me to launch a company that could help with a solution. My team did heavy research on what makes parents pick one daycare option over another. The top reasons we came across were always cost and convenience.
Unfortunately, waitlists for care are long, availability is limited and many options cost as much as renting a one-bedroom apartment. Begin your search early and look into every option—home daycares, centers and preschools. Be patient and don’t feel defeated if it takes a while to find the right fit.
U.S. workplaces are starting to catch up to other countries in terms of parental benefits. Some are more conscious of supporting families and understand how it affects the productivity of their workforce. Not every company achieves this off the bat, though—it truly takes the right type of leadership. If you’re considering starting a family, do your research on your workplace, competitors and the industry to determine how they measure up in supporting you.
Seek company cultures that support parents and children. Benefits to look for include competitive maternity leave, a flexible work schedule, options to work from home/remotely (especially while your child is young), family-wide health insurance and daycare benefits (discounted pricing, drop-in care inclusions or even daycare at work).
For those that don’t want to choose between a career and motherhood, there’s no reason to. Consider the fact that fathers are seldom expected to do so. If you’re a new mother that’s always dreamed of starting a business, do it tomorrow and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t.
You are as effective and as capable as anyone with or without a child and if your boss or investor suggests otherwise, it’s probably not the right company or the right investor.