Can a woman be a good mother and have a successful career?
Successful career women with beautiful and well-rounded families have often been asked: “How did you do it?”.
It also begs for answers to the question: “Can a woman be a mother and have a successful career at the same time? “
We could be provided with unique examples of how many women have maintained the work and family balance.
With that being said, it has come to my notice that women, in general, are segmented or ‘put in a box’, which sets a limit to the greatness they can achieve.
As I think about it again, I realise how often a woman must make the hard decision between her career and staying at home with the children.
Because we are programmed to believe that one must suffer for the other to flourish, many women have given up on their career goals because of this restricting mindset.
My conversation today is designed to provide the woman —with high ambitions for herself and her family, with the tools she needs to maintain a work-life balance.
To do this, I would first define who a career woman is.
Who Is A Career Woman?
The dictionary definition of a career woman is a woman who is devoted to pursuing a professional career.
I consider this definition extremely limiting! I believe that a career woman is any woman who balances her family life and her desire to pursue her professional goal.Funmi Ajayi
Finding that balance helps a woman grow. After all, a happy woman equals a successful career.
While this may seem unfeasible, there are specific steps a woman must take if she must excel both at work and at home.
The first of such steps is to prioritise finding a balance.
# 1 Prioritise Finding A Balance
This initial step requires that you make achieving a work-life balance a priority.
From experience, I have learned that it helps to ensure that you permit yourself to find that balance, regardless of whether you choose to work part-time or full time.
Ensure that you keep in mind the size of your family and your responsibilities before taking on high demanding roles.
Even though we all want to be the best at what we do, that doesn’t mean we should give up other desires and interests.
Achieving balance requires making certain adjustments and having this kind of approach serves as a reminder that your priority should be finding the right balance.
Once you have your priorities sorted, the next thing you must do is to set boundaries.
# 2 Set Boundaries
To do this, you must differentiate between family time and work time. Setting boundaries requires stating clear expectations concerning your work life and home life.
This means you need to understand when your family needs you and adjust accordingly.
The same goes for your work.
It may not be easy to do this, especially if you have a high-ranking position at work with several responsibilities.
Still, it helps to have a clear schedule that includes spending time with your family.
At work, you could set boundaries by highlighting your strengths and pointing out days and times that are off-limits for work, for example, weekends.
# 3 A Supportive Partner
Likewise, it helps to have a supportive partner when setting boundaries.
If your partner understands and supports your goals, it would be easier to harmonise your busy lives whilst making the most of your time together with your family first.
As an example, I always refer to the Ituah Ighodalo Family.
Until her death in 2020, Ibidunni Ituah-Ighodalo showed outstanding work-family life balance by setting
boundaries within her career as a foremost Event Manager, a Philanthropist and even as Co-Pastor of Trinity House Church, Lagos, Nigeria.
With love and support, the couple worked well as a team. This shows that even though it seems unworkable, it can be done.
Besides having a supporting spouse, having a support structure is also crucial in your journey to attaining a work-life balance, and this brings me to the next step, asking for help!
# 4 Ask for help
It’s not uncommon for households to have domestic help, particularly in Nigeria.
As much as we want to provide our families with all they need, it’s impossible to do it alone.
However, contrary to this, there’s nothing to be ashamed of when asking for help.
This is crucial, especially when vying for a higher position at work or trying to achieve a milestone in your career.
Your help could come from family members or a professional. Either way, it’s okay to seek outside help when the burden becomes overpowering.
Women struggle daily with achieving their dreams in a marginalised society while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Choosing yourself and doing what you love most does not make you less of a good woman. Instead, it makes you a strong one.
As a career woman, you can have a beautiful and well-rounded family. If you make finding balance a priority, set boundaries around your work and family life, and get help when the burden becomes too overwhelming for you to manage.
Do you have any tips you would like to share? Please feel free and leave a comment.
Olufunmilayo Ajayi is a consummate banker and seasoned policymaker with over 28 years of banking experience in corporate, private, commercial and consumer banking. She served as the Special Adviser to the Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, from 2011 to 2019. Funmi is now the Team Lead and Executive Founder of a micro-lending company that focuses on financial inclusion for marginalised women traders.