As working moms, we shoulder a variety of pressures from different sources. And these pressures sometimes result in conflicting emotions that bring awareness to the logistical and emotional trials these roles can bring.
But let’s take a moment to set the record straight.
If the positives of maintaining these dual roles didn’t dramatically outweigh the negatives, no one would be procreating. Obviously that’s not the case with the U.S. population setting a new record of more than 317 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Whittle that number down to reference only working moms and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate for all mothers with children under the age of 18 was 69.9 percent in 2013.
To point out the obvious: There must be something pretty fantastic about this balancing act. Either that, or as a society we’re all gluttons for punishment. We’re going with the former.
So how do we, working moms, make it all work? What’s the key to “success”?
Ryann Wayne is the CEO of The Frontier Project, a locally headquartered innovation and organizational behavior-consulting firm, but Wayne is also a mom. “Sure, there are nights that I do think, I take care of a lot of people and sometimes that can get exhausting but I go back to that I love my job and my kids, and am able to not feel guilty for compromising either because I give them both everything I have,” says Wayne. She believes that in order to be effective and engaged with both aspects of your life, the keys are separation and not taking yourself too seriously.
“Being a mom has made me a more calm and appreciative person, which helps in my work life. You can’t take yourself too seriously with spit-up on your shoulder. It’s humbling and brings great perspective,” says Wayne.
The main way in which Wayne manages the balancing act of work and home is by drawing a hard line between the two. The Frontier Project work begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. Before and after, her time is spent with her daughters.
Kate Hall, senior HR project manager with Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. (HDL, Inc.), the behemoth of a company taking over the laboratory testing world, and founder of Richmondmom.com, credits her success to “making lists, estimating completion times and delegating to her older children whenever possible.”
Katherine Wintsch, CEO of The Mom Complex, an agency here in Richmond that aims to turn the challenges of motherhood into growth opportunities for brands, takes a three-month approach. “I map out my calendar three months in advance with yoga classes, meditation, and family vacations. Then, and only then, do I fill the remaining time with meetings,” says Wintsch.
Aside from the daily battle of proper time management between work and home, working moms also worry about negative perceptions of being both mom and employee. In talking to Carter Reid, senior vice president, chief administrative and compliance officer and corporate secretary at Dominion, she feels that many od negative perceptions she had to overcome early in her career are less of an issue today. Carter advises women to make choices that feel right for them. “Once you have children you may be seen as no longer being available for travel, demanding assignments, maybe even relocation.”
Carter encourages women to be transparent with themselves and their supervisors, discussing options with their management and letting them know exactly what you want and how you plan to deliver. “On the other hand, you may want or need to step off the fast track for a few years. That’s okay, also if it is what is right for you and your family,” says Carter.
Hall feels that negative perceptions oftentimes come from within, “…by making ourselves feel guilty.” This is a huge point of contention for many working moms out there and one that is more difficult to address since it is self-created. When reflecting on your guilt, take a moment to address that guilt as though you were counseling a friend. What would you say to her? Would you think she is being too hard on herself? Would you make recommendations for her to better manage her time? Oftentimes we are our own worst enemy, so looking at our behaviors as though they were someone else’s allows us to take an unbiased perspective and determine some real action steps for moving away from the guilt.
If you’re like Wayne, you sometimes “feel guilty for not feeling guilty.” If you’re like many other women, you cannot find your version of the perfect balance between work and home and that is the impetus for your guilt. Wayne enjoys her balance because she has complete contrast in her day. “I get to be very grown up while at Frontier and when I return home, I access a completely different part of my brain that allows me to meet these little people on their level.”
Wayne has it right. If you’re a great mom and a great employee, shouldn’t the focus be on how you’re exceling at each and what the dual role can not only bring to your life but to your children’s lives as well?
It’s okay to love your job and love your family, and then work to balance the two. A mantra throughout my childhood was: “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.” And that is exactly what these awesome Richmond working moms agree on universally. Plan your time in advance. Know where to draw the line between your work and your family. Celebrate your successes and keep a positive attitude—it’s okay to feel good about all that you do.
The last thing any mother wants is to look back on her life and wish she appreciated the balancing act more. If you’re in it, and you’re doing it well, make the most of each moment.
To read the full interviews with these awesome Richmond moms, go to