Reliability is a value I’ve always held in high regard in both my professional and personal life. Being reliable was definitely easier before I had children. So my initial reaction to adding a baby to my life was that I would no longer be able to fulfil my desire to be reliable at work and at home. Especially at work. How on earth could I devote myself 100% to my career (and later business) when a phone call from childcare could change my plans for the day in an instant?!
This fear of becoming unreliable, with the added title and responsibilities of a mum, inspired me to up level and compensate for this possibility in all areas of my life. Especially at work.
As a part-time employee I learnt to untie the belief that my presence in the office was an indication of my reliability. Especially now when technology has become such a critical component of any business environment.
As a business owner I’ve learnt to make business decisions full of hope and optimism, rather than fear about these plans being derailed by family emergencies.
I like to think of these skills as the 3 must haves for every working mum. Whether you run your own business or work for someone else, when you master these 3 skills you’ll feel confident, reliable and organised. All of these attributes are universally appreciated and never overrated.
The powerful combination of these skills will create a solid foundation for your version of success at home and at work.
Most of the experiences I’ve had with letting people down at work and at home, or feeling like others have let me down, is due to a lack of communication. Communication is critical, especially with your partner and colleagues.
My husband and I make sure we share calendar appointments with each other so that at least one of us is always available when our children need us.
As a part-time employee I learnt the value of ensuring colleagues had access to my availability and critical project information. I also came to realise the value in being available for emergencies, only via phone or email, when I was out of the office. I also recommend out of office automatic email responses to manage expectations with colleagues and customers when you know you will be unavailable.
I’m yet to experience a situation where too much communication created disappointment.
The best laid plans can certainly go awry when you’re a working mum. The most common situations are when you and/or your child are sick. Having a contingency plan can ease the sense of panic and overwhelm that can be experienced on a morning when you wake up with a full day of meetings and a sick child. Or when you get the call from childcare that you must collect your sick child. Consider that this situation is likely to happen to you at least once this year. Know what your back up plans are and how to best put them into action. Have the conversation with those around you who can provide back up childcare, such as grandparents or your partner, before the need arises.
Sometimes you may have to drop everything at work for your family. In my first year as a working mum my son was hospitalised twice and spent a few days in hospital each time. Thankfully my workplace was very understanding about these extreme cases. During these times I also gave myself permission to surrender to the situation without buying into the guilt about being absent from work.
The extra responsibilities of motherhood can cause us to shrink instead of expand. Remind yourself of the skills and experience you gained before you were a mum and ADD them to all the skills you’ve gained since having children. So often we lose sight of our own value and focus instead on what we can no longer bring to work (100% devotion). Remember that you are a skilled and experienced working mum now and give yourself permission to be a good mum AND a good business/career woman. Confidence is a skill that requires daily practice. Studies have proven the ‘fake it till you make it” theory holds up. So when you practice confidence in your daily activities, over time it will become your natural state. Without self-confidence you could miss out on business/career opportunities and feel less capable than you really are at work and at home. You got this!
If you apply these strategies to your life you’ll feel more confident, organised and reliable at work and at home.
Remember too that we’re all human and can’t be relied upon by anyone 100% of the time. It’s unrealistic, unfair on yourself and likely to lead to exhaustion somewhere along the line if we try to be available to everyone all the time.
Written by Kim Stone from Undercover Mum