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Successful working mothers > Secrets of Success > How Do You “Make it All Work?”

How Do You “Make it All Work?”

By Sarah Wilshaw-Sparkes

We’re fairly sure there’s no silver bullet out there, and no magical fountain for career success either. Whether we’re Millenials, Gen Y, Gen X or Boomers, we’re all grappling with compromises as we try to stay sane yet also try to find work that interests us and rewards us as professional women.

Some of us stay on the traditional track and rise to the most senior levels in time. Others forge paths as contractors to past employers and clients, or become small business owners. Within these overall models, there will be things that really make the difference when it comes to making you feel engaged, motivated and enthusiastic.

What do you do for yourself to “make it all work”? What gestures by employers have meant the most to you?

Below we share the stories, experiences, tips and tricks from our Professionelle members.

  • I prepare the kids’ lunches the night before and also decide what I’m going to wear the next day. I plan meals in advance for the whole week, so I know what I’m going to cook. and on a day when I’m not working I cook a big batch of something and freeze half so I have ready meals for days when I know there won’t be much time.
  • The best advice I have is to choose your partner very well – I couldn’t have done what I have done without mine.
  • Learn to say NO. 
  • Know when to ask for help. It’s often the hardest thing to do but surprisingly when you ask for help it’s given willingly. I started by asking for flexibility from my employer for the gym – or a run – then I asked for the help of my family…they’re now used to the group emails with the following month requests and program their support accordingly. I have done the same with my friends – some of whom have no family here in NZ – so the support works for all of us. It sounds so easy – it’s not – the biggest hurdle is learning to ask. So once you have learnt to ask for help…learn tip #2… Make sure you ask for it before you need it!
  • No matter how hard you work you still won’t get everything done so learn to ease off and accept that you don’t have to be all things to all people all of the time.
  • Use teleconferences, instant messaging and web meetings as an alternative to travel when you can.

And for those of you who would like some tips on how to fit exercise in to a busy day.

  1. Meet your friends for a walk instead of coffee or lunch -that way you can exercise while catching up. You can even have some meetings this way!
  2. Make phone calls while on a long walk.
  3. Take your kids to sport and then go for a run and/or walk while they are at practice.
  4. Coach a kid’s sports team and do the fitness sessions with them.
  5. Book your kids into something at a community gym which is at the same time as something suitable for you (really good if it’s associated with a pool or fitness centre).
  6. Get a really boisterous dog that just has to be walked every day or will bark the neighbourhood down (or borrow one from a friend while they are on holiday).
  7. Hire a university student to pick the kids up from school, take them to sport and look after them for 4 days per week.
  8. I make it work by being kind to myself and trying to relax my high standards at home. I have a cleaner and don’t hesitate to outsource where it makes life easier. I also don’t allow myself to engage in guilt over my choices. Gestures from employers that I have valued range from a paid holiday after a very intense project to just remembering to say thanks and job well done. Also if I ever have to take a rare day off with a sick child their unqualified support and understanding is critical as I feel like I am letting the team down already without being made to feel worse.

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