Tackling the age-old question: “family or career?”

Women are almost always confronted with the question of whether they should give up their career aspirations to take care of their family or pursue professional development opportunities to climb the career ladder. I find this rather unfair and primitive. It’s like saying it should only be one or the other. Can’t women be successful in their chosen career and be a good mother and partner at the same time? I say they can and they should be given a chance to prove that.

You see, I’ve been in the corporate world for some 14 years now. I had my first baby at the age of 24, my second at 27, and my third a couple of months before I turned 30. It was also in those years that I quickly moved up and took on senior management roles. I performed my work to the best of my ability, but I was also as hands-on with my kids as any mother could be. I am proud to say that I have been successful in my career, and I am truly blessed and grateful to be where I am now. I take greater pride, though, in the fact that I have done a pretty good job raising my three children, at least judging from the “I love you” kisses and hugs I receive each day and the number of “You are the best mom in the world” pronouncements. 🙂

However, the credit should not only go to me. My husband, who also holds an executive position in the company, deserves as much credit. He has always been supportive of my aspirations and he understands that for us to be both successful, we need to do our part and be willing to make some sacrifices.  For these reasons and more, I thank him immensely.

So yes, it is possible to do well in both your role as a mom and as a career woman (be it in the corporate world, as an entrepreneur, or whatever path you’d like to follow). But nobody said it would be easy. It took a lot of sleepless nights, patience, determination, grit and many more to pull this off. Let me share with you some of the things that worked for me.

  1. Your husband will and should play a key role. My husband and I agreed that we will be equals insofar as providing for the family and raising our children are concerned. From the start, he knew that I will not buy in to the idea that the wife must shoulder all household chores and child-rearing duties. In keeping with this agreement, my husband helps out around the house if and when needed. Like me, he wakes up early in the morning to get our kids ready for school, and assists them with their homework and projects at night, especially when I’m on a business trip.
  2. Your family (or your most trusted friends) will be your main support group. Our families are heaven-sent! As in literally, we couldn’t have survived this without their support. They have been with us since day one, looking after our babies while we are at work. Our kids’ grandmas used to take turns going to our house every single day (because I don’t leave our kids at home with their yayas only), but since my family moved to another area, my mother-in-law took on this role full-time. God bless her!
  3. You need to be super efficient and have excellent time management skills. During office hours, I try to finish as much work as I can. I have a detailed to-do list, which specifies not only the tasks for the day, but also the time I will allot to finish each of them. This way, I’ll be disciplined enough to be efficient, focus on the task at hand, and complete it within time before moving on to the next item on my list. This technique works, I promise! The objective, really, is for me to finish everything by 5:30pm at the latest and be on my way home for the kids. Any unfinished work will have to wait until the kids are asleep. Hubby’s work requires him to stay late most of the time so I try my best to be faithful to this plan. However, when I’m the one who has a dinner meeting or evening event, hubby makes it a point to go home early.
  4. You have to set your boundaries. My team and my boss know that I will always give 101% to reach our targets, but they are also fully aware that I will drop everything if my kids need me. I am not afraid to cancel or reschedule any meeting or tell my boss that I will skip a company event if there is an emergency with our children. I also organize my schedule such that I am free to witness important milestones and attend special ceremonies for them.

So the next time someone asks you to choose between family and career, tell him or her you’ll take both…but be prepared to take on the challenges that come with that decision.

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