I have been thinking a lot lately about being a mother, wife and a business women. On the surface, that is not uncommon at all, which I think is fantastic! Take us back 100 years ago there would only be one or two of those variables ie only mother and wife. But what I do believe is very uncommon, is for people to be successful in all these areas. I believe that people can be successful in all these areas but we need support/change from government, businesses and communities. I have many people who ask me how I do it all. Between you and me I do not always do it well but that is life!! (and I am not a perfectionist!)
My little rant is going to be mainly on the 'mother' aspect. As my last personal blog post was around the business.
I come across a lot of amazing women pursuing incredible entrepreneurial ventures but many do not have children. This in turn I imagine would enable them to be very single minded and focused on their businesses. Something that many business books and professors state are extremely important to a business! They would also be able to spend every waking hour on their business. That type of journey is so different to mine. Maybe before children when I was working in large law firms but not now with how my life has developed. I just cannot be single minded as I have many obligations and I am always multi tasking to the max. But what I always say is that my children have allowed me to flourish in my business as I need to be totally in the moment with them and therefore it takes my mind off all those often stress elements of a business. They also give me space from issues which in turn enables me to keep things in perspective.
I am totally in love with my children and my husband (although he drives me crazy often!) and I would not have my life any other way. But one thing that I am forever doing is checking my priorities and balance. Who needs me, when, how and can I give it right now.
I am possibly a sucker for being over busy, but I wanted to be fully part of my children's lives, which basically means being an at home mother (for want of a better term). Also I was very privileged to have a mother (who turns 80 next year) who was very successful at everything she did and instilled strong mental health in all of us.
I hope not to offend anyone but this is my journey and my values. So what I mean about being an 'at home mother' is in fact being at home with them when they were babies to dropping them off at school and picking them up. Along with being there for them after school. My kids are now at school and I love doing the school run as it makes me feel very much part of our community. I always think it is similar to that research about not moving older people from their communities as even if they only recognize people by their faces, it still brings them a real sense of community. I also like to be part of their after school activities and I manage many of their team activities, as well as being a Board member at their school. It makes me tired just reading this, but in reality I totally thrive from all this. As I feel that I give love and time to my nuclear family, I am connected with my community and I am building a purposeful business.
Recently I have read the book on Lean in By Sheryl Sandberg. Some call it the most modern feminist manifest. I do love what she has to say and I commend her for how she has set up all the sub Lean in groups around the world. Just amazing. My take, is that she believes that educated women should lean into their careers (and lean in and help other women - which is so important) and have others take care of their children. Or in other words, join the current system whereby you need to chose to spend your time with your career to get ahead and not with your children. I believe the current system does not work for women (or children) and we need to find other ways to be successful as working women (again for want of a better word) and mother. I see that it is extremely important for women to spend time with their children and the system needs to change to allow this. An 'at home - working woman'. Arghh still not a good term, but do we really need to label it?
I do believe that what I have created is outside of the normal system. My team works within school hours, many are paid per output to name a few things.
You may think, when do I get all my business work done. I am a very fast worker and I can focus very well these days so 8.30am -3pm is always totally focused. I eat my lunch while working and then I enjoy my afternoon tea with my children. I also work after the kids are in bed from 7.30-8ish to 10.30-11ish. Since having babies that never slept, these days I manage on far fewer hours each night. It also helps if you are very driven in your creation. I always think of my company as painting a picture that I am always amending, changing, creating and a picture that I never want to finish.
HOWEVER our government does not encourage or value parenthood or 'at home parents'. This makes me MAD. They want mothers to go back to work as soon as they have their babies, fathers have limited parental leave and many workforces still require on the job 9-5 work hours rather than creating outputs and valuing families. I created a workforce from scratch to make this happen but not everyone will be able to do this. What is our society going to come too if time is not given priority between parent and child. Many teachers I know continually make comment around how our children have changed over the last 10 years. They have less empathy, they find it hard to engage with others and many are in day care centres for 12 hours or more. I know the 'day care centre' comment is something that many people have no option but to do this. BUT my point is that the government needs to wake up and value parenthood asap. There are all sorts of solutions from subsidies for having babies to extending out parental leave to offering business grants for home businesses. Businesses need to wake up and value outputs over number of hours worked and we need our communities to engage more with nuclear families (more on the 'communities' comment another time).
I want to be proud of New Zealand for valuing families. I want our children to know the meaning of empathy and engagement. I want parents to feel they have enough time to be with their children. I want businesses to be family focused and I want the government to value a parent not on their outside economic value but on the value they give to raising children.
Thanks for listening.