In this series, guest columnists respond to one of three topics selected by ELGL co-founder Kent Wyatt. This week, Kate Green, City of Peoria, Illinois, writes about balancing motherhood and work. Sign up to be a guest columnist for this series.
Becoming a mother has redefined how I view the passing of time. I used to be very focused on the here and now, and what was the immediate next move. Now I prefer the vantage point of the entire picture. This helps me to not only understand the grand scheme a little better, but it also helps me to appreciate my current role. I now don’t see my career as a series of stepping stones, but more of continual path of evolution that doesn’t wait on a new job.
That means that I need to carve out the space in my current role that helps advance my goals. While I was pregnant, someone shared the quote, “The days are long, but the years are short.” My friend was referencing the experience of raising kids, but I find the quote to be very applicable to my career as well. The years fly by far too quickly to be stuck in a position or role that doesn’t drive me to bring my best to the table every day. But I’ve found that jumping to a new job often isn’t the answer, it’s finding the ways that I can mold my current position to my strengths and interests.
Becoming a mom, or “mama” in the words of my son, has also sharpened my focus on impact. While job titles and promotions are valuable to all of us, I’ve realized that my time is limited. I’m in a place now that I could happily pass on a promotion if it isn’t the type of work that sparks a passion in me. I’m not sure I could have said that a couple years ago. I’ve settled nicely into an appreciation for what I want to get out of my work. Now, my professional goals are more related to outcomes rather than titles.
My only universal tip, which applies to both working moms and dads, is to always be conscious of your priorities. Too often we get caught up in the fires or demands of work at the cost of those who mean the most to us. I’ve always had a fairly strong focus on work-life balance, but now I am even more intentional about the separation of work from my family time. Not only in terms of leaving the office on time, but also freeing up my mental space. When I’m with my family, I do my best to be fully present. And when those times pop up that I need to be working outside of the 8 to 5 schedule, there is an open invitation for my son to come along. I’ve set this standard now and I intend to keep it. From public meetings and meetups to ribbon cuttings and events, my little guy has been around for a lot! He has even made it into a few videos and photographs. The value in this is twofold: I get to spend that time with my son and he gets exposure to the work I do. I find it incredibly valuable for kiddos to truly experience what different careers are like before they have to choose a path for themselves, and public service is an avenue that I hope he fully understands because of this time we spend together.