3 Misconceptions About Moms & Work-Life Balance—Busted

There’s a lot of contradictory and downright erroneous parenting info floating around out there. We’re not afraid to tackle it head-on!

If there’s one thing moms know absolutely it’s that finding just the right balance between work life and home life can be a challenge. But are there prejudices we bring to this equation that might actually be making that challenge bigger than it has to be? To find out, we asked work-life expert and author of the Expert’s Guide book series, Samantha Ettus—herself mom to 9-year old Ella, 7-year-old Ruby, and 4-year-old Bowen—to bust three bit common myths about keeping it all together.

Myth #1: I’m hurting my kids by working.

Truth: Unfortunately, a lot more moms than dads seem to be fueled by guilt about going off to work. And that, says Ettus, can lead to women blaming their careers for anything that goes “wrong” at home, like kids acting up or sleeping poorly at night. But, she says, “A parenting study just came out that shows that there’s no correlation between the time you spend with your kids and how they turn out—and what’s so great about that is that we now have actual data showing as long as you are engaged in your child’s life, you’re helping them to grow and thive.” An even bigger plus to our careers, Ettus points out, is that most working parents are immune to becoming helicopter parents, “because we  have to focus on something beyond out children.” And that’s a win for the whole family.

Myth #2: I should never talk about my work when I'm at home with my family.

Truth: Says Ettus, “In my own life, what I have seen is that when I bring my work home and talk about what I do all day, my children hear the passion in my voice and they’re proud of me.” And that, she says, is the greatest opportunity to teach them that a career is something to look forward to and to be excited about—surely something that we all want to pass on to our kids. She recalls having dinner at the home of a senior-level executive at a company she was working for, when someone asked the executive’s wife what she did with her time. Says Ettus, “She said, ‘Unfortunately, I have to work.’ I couldn’t believe it—what a missed opportunity for her own daughter to hear that she was proud of what she did!” Your own positive attitude about what you do when you shuttle off to work in the morning can have almost-instantaneous benefits. “A while back, I was working on logo for a company, and back at home I was brainstorming ideas in the living room with my husband,” says Ettus. “My older daughter was listening and she came back with four doodles she thought would work for my project.” Ettus's project became a family project, and her daughter learned that a job can be fun and fulfilling.

Myth #3: When we have kids, we fall into traditional gender roles whether we like it or not.

Truth: “I’m amazed at how many women come up to my husband and tell him how lucky I am that he’s such a great dad,” says Ettus. But the truth is, there’s no luck involved. “I chose him knowing that he would be great partner and father. But women forget how much control they have over whom they choose, and that choice decides work-life balance more than anything.” And when it comes to having a family, so does setting the expectation bar high—or rather, even—on a full 50 percent of shared responsibility between partners. Sadly, though, says Ettus, women “don’t actually have full expectations for equality so a lot of times, moms take on everything in the parenting department,” either thinking that’s their responsibility or that their “spouses are imbeciles who are incapable of doing their part.” Rather than falling into that negativity trap, she says moms- and dads-to-be should start things off right by going to doctors appointments together when you’re pregnant. That way, she says, “Your family is your creation together.” But even if you missed that chance, Ettus says “There’s always the opportunity for women to change their relationships. Never think your partner won’t change—at that point, you’ve given up. And I’ve never seen a working mom reach her full potential if she gives up on being an equal partner.”

Photography by Renata Lynn via Flickr/Creative Commons