As women, we’ve been campaigning since the eighteenth century for equal rights to men. It’s been a difficult journey, but we’ve proved that we’re incredibly tough and capable- and successful women have reached the heights of the best paying careers. However, there’s one thing that does give your career path some uncertainty, and that’s having children. Most women will want to become mothers at some point, and with parenthood being so demanding it’s difficult to know exactly how this will fit in with your job. Here are a few things to consider if you want to be a ‘woman who has it all’- the career, the kids….and your sanity!
Change Your Career Path
The thing about career paths is just like regular paths you can take some twists and turns along the way. You might have set out with a particular destination in mind, but along the way found that actually some of the stops are really quite nice. It doesn’t mean you should ‘settle’, rather, re-evaluate your goals and work out what’s most important to you and what will make you happiest. Is it vital that you reach the top of your career? Or would you be happy in a less demanding role? If you look on an hourly paycheck calculator by state you can find out what you’re likely to earn for different jobs; see whether this is enough for you to maintain the lifestyle you want.
Delay Having Children
A common way to get around the career/ kids dilemma is to delay motherhood until later on. This gives you a chance to work up the career ladder and establish yourself in your role. That way you’re not taking a long maternity break halfway through, and you know your position and authority is safe when you return. The problem this can cause however is women have a biological clock with fertility. While the lucky ones can conceive way into their forties and give birth to healthy children, others can struggle. By your mid-thirties your fertility is already in decline, which doesn’t give you much time to get yourself established. If having a family is an absolute must, it’s unlikely you will want to take the chance. If you work a very serious career, for example, you’ve spent years in medical school to become a surgeon and are unable to take time off without it affecting your career, you could look into having your eggs frozen. This gives you a good insurance policy for the future since younger eggs are less likely to lead to chromosomal problems such as Down’s Syndrome.
Start Your Own Business
Starting and running your own business gives you far more flexibility than a fixed job position. If you build it up to a good stage where it’s turning a profit, you can simply run it from the top and be as involved as you like. If you need to have time off for pregnancy, you can simply hire someone to do your job for a while. You don’t have to worry about being replaced or losing authority since you’re the boss. Everything is on your terms, and it’s still an incredible career to have. If you’re just starting out in life and are planning for the future, this is something to consider. Put the work in while you’re young and get everything set up and established. That way you get to reap the rewards of the profits and flexible working hours later down the line, perfect for when you start your family.
Accept or Hire Help
Parenthood is a full-time job, anyone who’s had a child will tell you that. We’re not just talking in the early days when your baby is waking up every few hours in need of feeding and changing. Even when they start school full time they’re only out for around six hours in the day. So when you already have a full time job, it can be tricky returning to work. One option would be to work part time, you still get to earn money and keep your skills fresh but have time to look after your child as well. That way later down the line you have the option to work full time again without it being a huge shock to the system. You get to balance the best of both worlds a little more easily. If you have the offer of help with childcare, whether that’s your partner, your parents, your in laws or another close loved one, it’s worth taking them up on the offer. Alternatively, you could consider hiring help. That could be for childcare, or if you’re planning on doing a balancing act, you could get some help around the house. Juggling cleaning, ironing, gardening and other chores when you’re already so busy can be extremely difficult If you have the means to, hiring some help to make life easier is no bad thing.
Dealing With Working Mother Guilt
The problem most mothers face is that they can’t win either way. If you take time to look after your baby, you feel bad for not being out there earning money, and teaching your child a good work ethic. If you work, you feel guilty for leaving them in the care of someone else and being apart from them for so long. You might worry about missing milestones, or about the bond between you and your baby suffering due to the distance. If you return to work shortly after giving birth, it means you will have to stop breastfeeding, another huge decision to make. Most mothers will feel some guilt surrounding this, either way, just remember that it’s completely normal. Remind yourself that you know your life and your child best, and know what the best plan of action is. If you think that means working to earn lots of money to provide stability and work ethic, then that’s absolutely fine. Equally, it’s fine to want to take time off to look after them or go part time. It might feel like there’s no right answer, but the reality is- there’s no wrong one. Whatever you decide in the best interests of your child is the perfect decision.