I don’t have to tell you that being a mom is hard work. You already know that. You also know having a successful career can be just as hard—often harder.
So for those of us trying to kick ass to combine the two most important aspects of our lives, let me be one of the many who should be telling you I’m proud of you.
For new moms who are just starting off on your journey into motherhood and/or career building, you better believe it’s one of the most difficult things you’ll do. I had my daughter just weeks after graduating from college. I had barely begun my work life, and I was already a parent. Instead of seeing my situation as a setback or obstacle, I dove straight into my career to prove to myself and my daughter that no goal is out of reach.
I’m proud to say I’ve been balancing career and motherhood for almost 16 years. I’m now the CEO of one of the top 50 PR agencies in Los Angeles, and there’s not a single thing I would change.
All too often, I’ve encountered other working moms who tell me they feel guilty for being successful at work. They say they feel like they should be spending that time at home with their kids. They admit to passing on amazing opportunities for their career because it would require more time traveling, away from home and their kids. Though I do agree that quality time with your kids is important, it’s equally important to feel fulfilled in whatever your life’s purpose is. Don’t dads get to do that? We should have the same opportunity, while still being the loving and nurturing mothers/wives our family needs—because we’re women, and we can balance it all. It’s our gift.
I’m probably making it sound too easy, but there are tricks to making it work:
Tell yourself it’s okay to be great at what you love to do because it inspires your kids when you’re happy and succeeding!
Translation: you should never, ever feel guilty for finding success outside of the home. Being a mother is the most important job we have. I believe wholeheartedly that it’s my primary job to make sure that my daughter is a functional, contributing member of society who is kind, successful in her own way and a genuinely great person who challenges herself by giving her best with the gifts she was given.
In my professional life, my job is to run my growing agency by giving it 110% every day. I mentor my amazing team, and continually deliver for our clients because it fires me up to live my purpose.
"I know for a fact my daughter is a better, well-rounded person because she sees me succeed, and she wants that for herself. I believe it has given her a level of confidence I don't think I would've been able to give to her if I'd stayed at home."
In order to be good at work and motherhood, I realized very early on I have to be authentic to myself and to my daughter. It just so happens that my authentic self loves to work. My authentic self loves to help others. The real me loves to be successful, and I love to do things that make me feel like I’m hitting my personal and professional goals. The beauty is, my daughter sees that—and your kids should see you at your absolute best too! It’s inspiring to them when they see you hit your goals.
I know for a fact my daughter is a better, well-rounded person because she sees me succeed, and she wants that for herself. I believe it has given her a level of confidence I don't think I would've been able to give to her if I'd stayed at home. Yes, I would've been able to have more time with her, but as parents, don't we take time for granted anyway? I know I've done it. So I see my time with her as quality time versus quantity time, and we make the most of every minute together.
Talk to your kids about work decisions you make, especially when they affect them.
For you moms who have goals and dreams, I hope no one ever said you had to give them up when you became a parent. If they did, ignore them! The only thing you have to do is make sure that your kids understand what you do, why you do it and how it helps make their life better—even when it doesn’t always feel that way to them.
The hardest part will be helping them understand that sometimes you have to be at work, or travel, or miss important things because we work in a competitive world where someone else will do the job if you won’t. The best way to mend that is to bring them into your world. Get them excited about it. This way, they become part of your team. My daughter and I have started a tradition where anytime I’ve had to travel, I bring her something from a new place, and that helps us create a positive memory around the trip—especially if it caused me to miss one of her important events. So adopt your own traditions, and don't feel guilty about being a parent who wants—or needs—to work. Some of us don't have a choice. And if you do have a choice and want to work, you should, because you'll be a better mom by being authentic to yourself.
Carve very specific time out for your kids.
From vacations to mini dates, plan specific dates and times to spend together. When you’re not present, technology can be there to help: iPhone users can take advantage of FaceTime. If not, simple phone calls can do the trick. When you make the effort to carve out minutes or hours in your day, your kids will appreciate it. I have regular phone dates with my daughter, we go on mother/daughter vacations and we hit Disneyland as often as we can. It’s our thing! I also text her daily and send her silly Bitmojis or jokes on Snapchat to let her know I’m thinking of her and want to brighten her day. Just like you would and should in a relationship with a spouse or partner, when you care for someone you find a way to let them know. Do the same for your kids.
What I hope you’ll take from all of this is a certain level of confidence. Know that it’s OK to be successful, chase your career goals and follow your passions in life. Don’t let anyone, especially other moms, tell you otherwise. It’s happened to me and I’ve never listened to them. I’ve listened to my heart, my gut and my kid—which is what you should do too. Know that when you’re reaching goals and showing your kids love at the same time, you’re passing along an invaluable lesson to your children, which will ensure their life is filled with a similar sense of purpose, drive and accomplishment.
In summary, be true to yourself, always.
Nicole Rodrigues is the CEO and founder of NRPR Group. She’s a seasoned publicist and social media marketing pro with 17 years of experience under her belt. She’s developed and executed strategic campaigns for some of the biggest names in business such as Yahoo!, Dolby, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony PlayStation, Hulu, M-GO, Toon Hero, Demand Media, MobiTV and the Oakland Raiders.