April 9, 2021

Push More, Stress Less – A Working Mom’s Perspective

I always knew I wanted a family. I’m one of four children and enjoyed the chaos of growing up with roommates that creatively suggested new ways for us to defy death on a daily basis. Needless to say, we are most likely the reason my mother has a heart condition.

My focus after grad school was my career but shortly after came the arrival of my first child. I remember having to leave her the first day I went back to work after taking leave. The amount of guilt and sadness was overwhelming the entire day. I remember finishing all my work as quickly as possible and then blocking an hour earlier to get back to her. I had a vision that she would be crying and feel I had abandoned her.

I arrived home to a happy, smiling baby, who could have cared less that I was gone and she had an amazing day. Believe it or not, this was when I asked myself, what was my earliest memory as a child? I think it was a birthday party when I was 5. So that’s it, as much as we want to be perfect for our young ones when they’re babies, they aren’t going to remember ANY of this.

When my son was born, it was ten times easier. I had adopted a motto that I tell all new moms when they’re supposed to give “advice.” The secret to being a great mom is… Love your kids and keep them alive. That’s it. Throw everything else out the window. Don’t worry if you have to work late or their blanket isn’t organic cotton, they’re going to eat that Cheeto off of the floor anyway.

I quickly found myself turning working mom guilt into a prideful example for my kids to look up to. They know mommy is great at what she does and works hard so we can do special things together as a family. They are also still young enough to get excited when I have to fly out real quick for a work trip because they know I will be coming home with a surprise if they’re good for dad.

The key to balance is keeping a schedule. I prep for personal/family events probably a month out. I have a giant family calendar so everyone can see what’s scheduled and I also help lay things out for the kiddos if I am traveling that week. This way I’m not scrambling to put together an Easter basket while I’m in a hotel lobby scrambling to get Wi-Fi. This also helps to know their school events and so I can make sure I am present for the important days in their life.

Outside of the children, my husband and I have always supported each other career-wise to root for our success but also coordinate schedules to ensure one of us is there for our children at all times.

Once you see yourself as a successful contributing example as opposed to a “guilty mother,” the game changes. You are no longer stressed for the times you “aren’t” there because when you are, you are more present with them than ever before. You can kill it at work and then come home to family time. Shut the laptop, put the cell phone in a bowl (not enough working parents do this and it needs to be done, cannot stress this one enough), and climb into that giant living room fort. This is how they will remember you, laughing and happy.

I honestly don’t think I could continue in my career without my kids. They make the day ten times better when I see them. They have me laughing rather than stressing over my work. They push me to do and be better so we can go on more adventures (what they call vacations). They are the reason I will one day run my own company, own my private equity firm and be on the top ten New York bestsellers list. #AchieveMoreStressLess

By: Carlee Bowdoin, AVP GBCARE, Gallagher Bassett