Monday the 18th of January was my first day back at work for 2021 after a three weeks break from the office. With the COVID-19 situation, we had planned a staycation, just being at home, no zoom meetings and no deadlines to worry about. Unlike our other family holidays which are packed with activities, this one was laid back. I read novels,something I hadn’t done in years. I slept in a lot and binge watched a lot of shows on Netflix.
So I came across a series that I felt resonated so much with me. The series is called Chesapeake Shores. It is actually originally a Hallmark Channel series from 2016. There are four seasons so far. Don’t worry i am not going to spoil it for you.
So this series is based on the O’Brien family who come from a small town called Chesapeake Shores. Abby (played by Meghan Ory) is the oldest daughter. She is a high-flying career woman who has made it big in New York. She struggles to balance her career and being present in the lives of her two daughters. This is probably made worse because she is recently divorced from her husband an equally high flying Wall Street banker. Following a visit to her hometown of Chesapeake Shores, Abbey decides to settle there and be more present in the lives of her daughters.
Most working mothers would relate to most of what Abbey goes through navigating motherhood and her career. When she was offered a promotion to Vice President it wasn’t an automatic yes as she had to consider how she would balance the increased demands on her time with being available for her daughters. Being in Chesapeake Shores makes this slightly easier as she has the rest of her family to help her with her daughters.
Lesson 1 – Find a support network to lean on.
When we were lived back home in Zimbabwe my sisters, mother, nieces and nephews knew to expect a call from me on any Saturday morning to watch my children just so I could catch up on some much needed sleep. It wasn’t easy. At some stage all three of our children were less than three years. I am definitely not complaining here. Infact I consider myself totally blessed. There are times when other family members who can help are actually not available or too far, as is our case now. It’s however important to find other families, mothers and friends who are going through a similar stage or have gone through the same stage and can offer help when needed. They can be mothers from your workplace, or they can be mothers at your children’s school or from church. There should be no shame in asking for help.
2. Get a good nanny and or maid
This isn’t really going to be easy. I went through six maids within a two year period. Decide what is a priority for you. Is it that the house is spotless clean or that the baby(ies) is well taken care of? If you find someone who can do both well, then keep her at all costs and pay her well. If you can afford to have someone to focus on the children and someone to do the house chores, that’s actually first prize. At some stage I had a live-in and another was coming once every week to clean the house thouroughly, doing the laundry and ironing. Once you have decided on what is important, find one that you are happy with and don’t be scared to get an inexperienced helper that you can train on your own.
When Abbey relocated back to Chesapeake Shores, she rekindled things with her high school sweetheart Trace ( played by Jesse Metcalfe). As Trace’s career as a country musician took off things got more complicated. Trace has to juggle between running his business, touring with his band and being there for Abbey and her girls. This is a common dilemma in many dual career households today. Most families are dual career families. We juggle families, careers and even side hustles and sometimes studying. Another truth is that most families need both parents incomes. So how do we mantain healthy family relationships, be available for our spouses, our children and still be the ambitious career women we want to be or build the successful businesses that we have always desired?
3. Delegate at work
Whether you are running your own business or are in the corporate world, delegating to capable others is something you will need to learn fast. I fully acknowledge that this is probably something that some will not be able to do as some do not have teams to delegate to or their businesses are not yet big enough to hire other people. If you have no one to delegate to, ensure you engage with with your line manager on delivery timelines that are more manageable without causing you burnout. If your business is still growing consider automating some tasks so that gain time.
4. You really don’t have to be online 24/7
One of the things I have learnt is that you teach people how to treat you. What you allow them to do they will keep doing and what you don’t they will not do. Before I changed employers, I had my work email on my mobile phone. This meant I was available whenever anyone looked for me and even responded to work emails on weekends and after work. I had taught my workmates how treat me. This meant even though I was with my family during weekends, I wasn’t fully present with them. When I changed employers two years ago, I took this as an opportunity to make some much needed changes. I don’t have my work email on my mobile phone anymore. I am therefore not tempted to check my email every now and again. It really also helps that my employer is committed to “employee wellness ” and has in place policies that allow me to be fully present with my family. Of course there are busy periods that will require more from me at work. In such times I do put on the extra time but I only do it when necessary.
5. Prioritize your selfcare
Selfcare will look different for each one of us. It’s about doing something for you, for your physical health, for your mental health and your overall wellbeing. Find out the things that help you switch off from your work and family demands. It could be exercising, reading a good book, having a massage, a walk in nature. Whatever it is you will feel rejuvenated afterwards. Don’t wait for the weekend to practice selfcare. Find a way to incorporate such activities into your daily routine.
I am looking forward to a good year ahead and wish the same for you.
Mum in Stilettos is a community for us mothers as we grow our families, grow our careers and grow our businesses.
Stay Safe – Muminstilettos