I treasure handmade cards from my son. But honestly, my idea of the perfect Mother’s Day is relaxing alone in a luxury hotel—resting and getting pampered. The greatest present my family can give me on Mother’s Day is some well-deserved “me time.”
I love my family, but as a working mother I’ve learned to do things for myself that allow me to balance the demands of my career and my home life.
I run my life like an entrepreneurial business, and I think other busy moms should, too.
That means that in addition to unapologetically taking some “me time” to recharge, like any CEO, I believe in outsourcing: I have my groceries delivered; I shop online; and I am looking into hiring someone to clean my house. I enjoy cooking and frequently do it, but I make no apologies for the nights when I order takeout. Any time that I am not devoting to errands or to activities that I loathe, I can spend playing with my son in the backyard or generating more income. Moreover, the time that I spend with friends, watching a movie or going to the salon rejuvenates me. Consequently, I bring a happier, more productive person to both my professional and personal lives. I’m designing a motherhood experience that works for both my family and me.
If you think about it, this path toward an entrepreneurial model of motherhood is a natural progression. Years ago, if a woman worked, she stopped immediately after she got married. In prior generations, husbands were the breadwinners and married women were supposed to stay home and tend to the chores and the children. Today, more than half of married mothers are employed at least part time. Although some mothers are working for personal satisfaction, many are doing so because their households require two incomes to stay afloat. While single mothers are sole wage earners by default, other mothers are joining their ranks as a result of divorce, separation or their husbands being laid off during these tough economic times. A recent Time magazine article indicated that 82 percent of people who have lost their jobs were men. Women’s changing status in the workplace has done little to alter the societal expectation that they should also be primarily responsible for their households and their children. Consequently, many working mothers are running themselves ragged trying to meet the conflicting demands of their jobs and their families.
For moms to juggle all of our various roles, they probably should think more like entrepreneurs than traditional corporate leaders. Successful entrepreneurs don’t follow established business norms; they create new products, services and business entities that address current market realities. Moreover by starting their own businesses, entrepreneurs exercise autonomy over their schedules, work environments, compensation and duties. Rather than being habitually stressed out and tired by trying to live up to the conventional motherhood model, entrepreneurial working mothers are instead reinventing motherhood to reflect their personal circumstances, values and interests. They are achieving work-life balance not by doing it all, but by doing what really matters to them.
By thinking more like entrepreneurs, working mothers have the ability to integrate their work and family lives in ways that will make them feel happier and more fulfilled. The alternative is to follow the status quo and be stressed out and riddled with guilt because you can’t be superwoman. Every entrepreneur takes a risk by going down a different path, and so, too, does a mother who thinks for herself. My dream of a solo Mother’s Day may be unorthodox, but this year it works for me and my family. Whether they work outside the home or not, women who are comfortable with their choices and in their abilities to create loving and nurturing homes have, I think, the best chance of raising well-adjusted children.
Yvonne Bynoe is a life coach, author and the editor of Who’s Your Mama? The Unsung Voices of Women and Mothers (Soft Skull Press), an anthology that explores the various ways that Gen X/hip-hop generation women are creating motherhood experiences that reflect their values, beliefs and lifestyles. Yvonne is the president of Working Moms Mentor, a company dedicated to empowering working mothers.