How to Have IT ALL: A Family and A Career
by Shawna-Kay Williams
Undoubtedly, it can be quite a task to simultaneously maintain a family and a burgeoning career. However, many women have actually been able to do so. You would probably call them “superwomen,” but they all worked hard at devising a workable plan to have it all.
So, just how have they managed a career, while attending to the husband or common-law spouse, the children and their daily household duties? A helper? Not quite.
According to Georgette, who is in her final year at university, it has not been easy studying, attending to her 1-year-old daughter and her spouse. However, she stated that she has been able to do so successfully by drawing a line between her academic pursuits and her family and by managing her time well.
“You have to manage your time wisely so that you do not neglect any of your responsibilities. You will also need persons around you that will share in the duties you have to fulfill,” she stated. Georgette also added that it is also critical to have a supportive partner to help you strike a balance.
“You also need a strong father who takes his responsibility for his child seriously and who understands when you need time to do your assignments or any other tasks,” she explained.
When feeling overwhelmed, Georgette admitted to unwinding with friends, taking a walk or visiting her mother who is always supportive.
“You can balance both (a family and a career) and there is nothing more fulfilling than having a child and a family that love you,” she affirmed.
Allison, a secondary English and literature teacher and a part-time master’s student, said she has been able to nurture her 4-year-old daughter and her husband of 4 years by managing her time well.
“Time management is key. I try as best as possible not to take home school work. I maximize my time to complete work when I'm away from my family, but as soon as I get home, it is just family time,” she disclosed.
Chevanese, who is also a wife and mother for just over a year, said it has not been easy balancing her career in pharmacology and a full time family life.
“Honestly it is hard and some days I am very tired, but I try to do as much as I can and sometimes some things get left out in the process. When it comes to the house, I've adopted a it-can-wait attitude. As long as my child and husband are fed, I am fine,” she stated.
Chevanese also added that her husband is very helpful with household tasks and is rather a mellow chap.
“He will do just about any household chore. He is also very laid-back and so we can order pizza for dinner and it's not a problem,” she explained. While Chevanese admitted that she believes a woman can have a family and a career, she stated that there are sacrifices that must be made.
“I work shorter hours so I can spend more time with my baby and that’s a sacrifice I choose to make,” she shared. Furthermore, she is advising women to accept necessary assistance and refrain from striving to be “superwoman.”
“Accept that you will need help at times and never feel like you have to be ‘superwoman’ and complete everything on your own. Don't let your career suffer because putting time into your career also means that your family will be cared for financially. Moreover, a career gives a feeling of accomplishment,” she posited.
For Lisa, a married woman for 7 years and the mother of three children – two boys and a girl - it has not been smooth sailing balancing her career as a broadcast journalist, while taking care of her family.
“It is not an easy task. I love my family, and I like what I do so I have had to work around my circumstances,” she admitted.
Like the women we have mentioned, Lisa said that in order to create a balance and lead a rewarding life, she has to discipline herself and endeavour to manage her time well.
“Time management and planning ahead are very important. I involve the family as much as possible with chores. I also get the children to assist each other with homework and other school-related activities,” she stated.
In starting and maintaining a family, while pursuing your chosen career, you could consider doing the following:
1. Identify a strong support system
This means, identifying relatives and friends who could help you with getting work done. Who could babysit for you sometimes, while you study or complete a project at work? If you have maintained a good relationship with these persons and have been equally supportive, they are likely to render similar assistance upon your request.
2. Plan ahead
Dedicate some time on the weekend to plan the week’s undertakings. Ensure that your schedule is not extremely rigid and therefore becomes inflexible in the event of an unforeseen occurrence. Give yourself some amount of space for impromptu assignments at work or for situations that may arise at home. You could also have a weekly family meeting to help you create this plan. This way, everybody’s situation would be accounted for and every immediate family member would know and understand the order of things.
3. Share the workload
Allow your husband or spouse and the children to help with the house chores. This way, you do not have to overwhelm yourself with everything . Moreover, the children will grow to be responsible.
4. Check with your human resource department to work out a flexible schedule
If you are disciplined enough, you could actually work from home sometimes, instead of spending time travelling to and from work. That time could be spent getting the work done and clearing your schedule for family time afterwards.
5. Make time for yourself
It is important that while you work hard and attend to your family, you schedule some time to relax or hang out with a few of your friends. A girls’ night out at the end of each month is a great way to get you started. This will allow you to rejuvenate and better tackle other days as a working mom!