Today, I’d like to welcome Patrice Washington to Bibs & Baubles! She’s a mom, career woman, and style maven! Her story of how having kids changed her is something I can totally relate too.
You’re probably reading the title of this post and saying to yourself, “Here we go again. Some woman trying to tell us how easy it is to juggle our busy lifestyle and make it look effortless.” Well, I’m not going to sell you that tale because I hate reading it to. I will, however, give you some honest, personal strategies that work in my day to day life that I believe will work in yours too.
As a wife, career mom of two ages 6 yrs and 9 months, I know just how hard it can be to strike a fine balance between your work and personal lifestyle. I read magazines where women make it look so simple while parading around in 6 inch stilettos. Well, that is NOT my reality. Eight years ago, I was a twenty something free spirit who loved hanging out with friends and shopping (yep, that pretty much summed up my life). I was single and without children. I would sacrifice dinner for a clothing sale and would skip paying the light bill if a new pair of boots were coming out. Yep, that sad story was my life before marriage and children.
Well, one day, I met a man who later became my husband and blessed me with two wonderful children. Getting married was easy, but adding additional, unemployed bodies to the mix caused alarm. “Would I have to sacrifice my love for socializing and shopping to raise children?” I’d often wonder. Well, after giving birth to my son almost seven years ago, I learned that the end of socializing and shopping were going to be the least of my concerns.
I was young, slightly immature and still searching for my place in corporate America. I had the responsibility of raising a precious life and still needed guidance in directing my own. It was stressful, tough, but propelled me to find my purpose. My son became my reason; the motivation behind me wanting to do well in life. His life became the driving force behind my success.
I found a mentor (several of them) and began to really prioritize my goals and asserting myself where the things I needed were evident I went from being a slow pace, passive aggressive person to a focused and assertive mother who wanted not a slice of the corporate America pie, but the whole pie. I ended up completing college and later went on to obtain a Masters degree and other certificates. I used those credentials to establish my own business while continuing to work in the 9-5 corporate scene. To do this, I took my social activities from every weekend to one Saturday evening every three months. This allowed me to not only save money, but to spend my evenings working on business matters. My goal was to establish additional streams of revenue for me and my family.
With the help of one of my mentors, I discovered ways to monetize my hobbies to serve as residual income. I would set up internet pages for different hobbies and sell items that I created at various markets. Another mentor introduced me to a circle of married women and moms who would meet and dish on topics relevant to women in a relationship and raising a family. This circle of women motivated me to be the best wife and mom possible. We shared restaurant recommendations for date nights and recipes to create fast dishes for our little ones. Oh, I can’t forget to mention the mentor who taught me all about consignment shopping. Did you know that many consignment shops have established partnerships with brand stores to receive their extra merchandise? Check out your local consignment store and save a buck on something new or gently used. Being a part of these (and several other) networks, allowed for me to have a crutch if you will to lean on when things became tough or simply confusing.
Nine months ago, I gave birth to my daughter and I can honestly say that I used the first few weeks of her life to truly test my ability to maximize 24 hours in a day. You know those sleepless nights when you’re caring for a baby’s feeding and changing needs every 2 hours? Well, I would use that time to catch up on my magazine reading or watch a sitcom I hadn’t seen in a while. And on those nights when she wanted to fall asleep in my arms, I’d brainstorm low cost to no cost business startup ideas. I figured if I’m going to be up, might as well do something enjoyable for myself as well.
In short, the way I found balance was by managing my expectations, knowing that great things require sacrifice and establishing a strong support system.
Being a mother is not a handicap or excuse, its your reason! It’s the reason you want to get to the top of your game and stay there; the reason you want to look your best, the reason you want to strive and grow. The balance will come because you have the power to WILL it there.
How has motherhood changed/inspired you?
Patrice Washington is a wife, working mother of two, contributing writer for the DC Examiner and Creator of Yours/Mine Secondhand Shopping Soiree. She can be found on Twitter @prjwashington.