There’s a crazy philosophy out there…
that claims we are right on the heels of achieving the ever-elusive balance between our work as women and our work as mothers, if we just figure out how to “get it right”. If our passion includes more than the joys and challenges of motherhood, there’s a constant pressure to measure the time we spend pursuing our passions against the time we spend with our children. Let’s be clear; ALL mothers are working mothers, and that’s a fact! But for those of us who, either by choice or circumstance, decide to embrace the additional challenges of pursuing a career—particularly those of us who are self-employed—the pressure gauge constantly lingers near the popping point. The Execumama lifestyle, though filled with rewards and reasons to be grateful, is also not for the Wuss Puss types. Singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur, Kandi Burruss (formerly of the R & B music group, Xscape, and more recently of the controversial Real Housewives of Atlanta series), echoes the sentiment of many Execumamas, married and single alike, the world over, in her recent vlog post for HelloBeautiful.
“How are you supposed to handle your business and continue to be successful without taking away from the quality time and all that you’re supposed to give to your child?”
I’m sure fathers have a degree of that same pressure too, especially with the alarming statistics that show single fatherhood numbers doubling since 1980 to nearly 1.6 million in 2007, and up to 2.5 million in 2006, according to a Families and Living Arrangements study released by the U.S. Census Bureau!
Kandi mentioned the issue of being a single mother, and being raised by one and being the oldest child, I have some idea of what that’s like. I’m not a single mom, and my husband, Kris, is an involved father who cooks dinner most nights, pays attention to his daughters, and is usually responsive to my requests for help around the house. Even in this two-parent household, we still find ourselves challenged with the concerns of time and energy for our children and our businesses.
Kris and I are both self-employed and each of us runs our own business in addition to helping each other with our various projects. He’s Execumama Enterprises’ PR, Design, and Branding team all by himself, and I write copy for some of Voz Visual’s clients as well as helping with the administrative tasks. But before and above all that is the honor of being guides to our 6 and 4 year old gifts from Creator, and keeping them first, while growing our businesses takes a deliberate and consistent effort. Add to that, the recent NY Times piece about Parenting While Plugged In, an article exploring the so-called “ill effects” of parents addicted to their laptops and smart phones, and both mothers and fathers in this particular era of self-employment and social media as a networking tool can certainly feel our Guilt-o-meters buzzing out of control. At home, we have a note we pasted in our bathroom last year, and it’s a necessary note:
“We consistently honor our daughters with our time.”
The simple, but in our eyes, powerful words for that note came to us through a meditative session purposed specifically for the issue of time. That’s the point of it all, anyway; being consistent and allotting time. I’ve released the concept of “balance” a long time ago, and for our family, it has saved Kris and me from covering ourselves in the blanket of guilt that often accompanies the Execumama and Execudad lifestyles. Here are some pieces of insight straight from our Everyday Amazing Entrepreneurship & Parenting tank:
Some Rules from the Execumama Lifestyle Handbook
Release the Myth of Balance.
Your choice to become an entrepreneur must carry with it a certain level of flexibility. This means, the traditional idea of working a 9 to 5, and spending a few solid hours per weekday, plus the majority of your weekends “making up lost time” with your children does not apply to you. Instead of working around your children’s waking hours, create a lifestyle that fits your family’s flow.
– If you work primarily from home, decide on family activities before the week starts, then fit them in when time permits.
– Look into weekly community calendars so you can jot down the days and times of the activities your children may enjoy, and stick the weekly note on the fridge. Then, on a day when a client cancels, or you can make time between meetings, grab the kiddos and go enjoy the life you’ve created.
Never, EVER tell your children about a scheduled activity too far in advance.
Booked a weekend in Callaway Gardens to hang with your daughters? Great, but don’t you make the mistake of telling them two weeks beforehand, lest that freelance assignment comes through and has you holed up somewhere with a laptop and a Red Bull for days on end. Instead wait until you’re a couple days away from the planned event, thereby minimizing the opportunities for disappointment, then spill the beans and brace yourself for the bumrush of hugs that let you know you’re doing something right.
Don’t Bench Your Key Players.
Remember, being able to provide for your babies and yourself are a part of the motivation to build your own source of wealth. Also, don’t forget the value of the “while I build” lessons. What better way to impart lessons of entrepreneurial know-how than to include your children whenever you can. When I’m scouting venues for my workshops, or décor shopping for an event, I turn it into an activity with the girls, arming them with notebooks, checklists, and even rewarding them financially when they help Mommy organize the steps leading up to her event.
Overall, inclusion is key, along with consistent reminders to yourself that unless you have a complete disregard for your children’s feelings or well-being, you probably need to be working with a GWZ mentality. The cornerstones of the Guilt-free Woman’s Zone (GWZ) are the third and fifth mantras from the Execumama Pocketguide:
My goal is NOT to create the perfect balance. In fact, one of the marvelous aspects of what I do is found in my ability to effectively manage the inevitable imbalances that come with the work/life path.
Guilt does not exist until and unless I create and assign it. Armed with that knowledge. I choose to be guilt-free, self assured, and reassured by my unfaltering commitment to my family and my SELF!
Now, while we all have our Do-I-Suck-As-a-Parent moments (I’ve been there, for sure!), let’s remember that her beautiful daughter’s inability to fully comprehend the scope of her mother’s work, is a natural reaction. In time, with Kandi’s consistent commitment to her daughter, coupled with an understanding that children will tend to feel neglected throughout their lives, for various reasons, often despite a parent’s best efforts (holler if you hear me on that one!), Riley will likely come to understand that her amazing mother is pursuing her dreams, which includes nurturing and sustaining a healthy, loving relationship with her daughter.