Ode to Working Moms Part 1: Finding Balance

Ode to Working Moms Part 1: Finding Balance

This is the first in a series of three blog posts about the challenges and triumphs of working motherhood, written by Jo Kirchner, CEO of Primrose Schools®. Read part 2 and part 3.

Along with many other working mothers I know, including my daughter, I’ve experienced the challenge of maintaining a strong commitment to my family and in my career. I am passionate about my family and my work, and over the years I’ve strived to give both my very best.

Like most moms, I have struggled to handle my workload with the goal of accomplishing each priority perfectly. After many years of frustration in not meeting that expectation, I finally realized that it’s not about perfection, but balance.

Happiness can be measured in terms of our priorities, and while priorities differ from one mom to the next, being able to identify what’s important in your own life is the key to finding your balance. This blog series is a celebration of the Working Mom, and I hope that by sharing my own experiences I may offer guidance and comfort to other women mastering the art and joy of working motherhood. (Read part 2 and part 3.)

Of course, much has changed since I was a working mother with children at home. Over the decades, working motherhood has become more common than not; in 2020, among mothers of children younger than 6, more than three-quarters worked full time, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. But the pandemic forced millions of mothers out of the workforce and left those still employed with more responsibilities to juggle and more pressure on their shoulders than ever.

But this truth hasn’t changed: While every mom wants to provide her child with the best parenting and quality of life possible, striving for perfection creates additional stress and is a waste of time. Perfection is an extreme, and if women insist on perfection they will find balance elusive.

One of the greatest stressors for me when my children were young was finding quality care that met my expectations and fit my workday. I know from experience that if mothers aren’t comfortable with their child care arrangements, the stress will spill into both work and family life.

When I toured a Primrose school for the first time, long after my own children had moved on to elementary school, I was so impressed that I felt compelled to get involved. That passion grew and grew, and I began working for the company. Today, I am the CEO of Primrose Schools and I find joy each day in being able to offer working moms the high-quality early education experience that I couldn’t find for my children.

My grandchildren attended Primrose Schools and I was happy to see my daughter enjoy the peace of mind that sometimes eluded me when she was young.

I have been a working mother (and grandmother) for quite some time now, and I have spoken with many career women who feel occasional — or frequent — guilt about their dual roles. I’d like to impart some wisdom I’ve gathered on my journey to finding balance:

  1. Be fully present when you are home. Turn off your cellphone when you are with your children. Let go of the workday and interact with your family. One of the best ways to connect with your child is by intently listening and speaking with them. You can practice a technique called “serve and return” when reading, playing or conversing with your little ones. This simply means that the parent “serves” words and the child “returns” sounds or words that then lead to another statement or question from the parent, and an ongoing conversation. This helps the child feel close to you and at the same time helps the child develop their thinking and language skills.
  2. Carve out some regular time for yourself if you expect to be effective in either role: at work or with your family. This could be through exercise, time spent with friends or date nights with your spouse. Whatever the activity or event, consider it an important part of your routine and schedule it on your calendar, just like you would a work meeting or your child’s soccer game.
  3. Try to take the long view. You can have it all — just not all the time. Your focus will shift as priorities come in and out of your day and your life. Be flexible; ask yourself what has to be done and what has to be done now. Those precious early years with your children will be gone before you know it. Enjoy them now so you can look back on these special years with satisfaction.

Working moms, you are a wonderful, diverse, inspiring group of women. I know you care deeply about your families and your careers. It is a joy to support you and your families at Primrose schools.

For more on working motherhood, read:

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