Fire

Today started out with dropping my kiddo off with Nana; a day to myself to accomplish my professional and personal to-dos. And ended with me in tears. Tears of anxiety.

In the midst of my anxiety, my mind brought me back to this time. Christmas 2016. Oh, how I yearn to go back. My mind remembers this as some of the happiest times I’ve had in the last few years.

As I reminisce on that time I began evaluating why that was such a happy memory for me? A few things easily come to mind:

  1. I had so much to look forward to. This is hands down the biggest thing. I was starting my education process for my real estate license and had just begun a lip sense business than was fun, not incredibly time consuming, but more successful than I imagined.
  2. I’d finally hit a stride in motherhood. We’d figured out solutions for Ava’s biggest challenges. She was happily gaining weight and enjoying life.
  3. We were in a (relatively) comfortable spot financially. Dustin worked at a great company, we could pay our bills each month.
  4. I had come out of the darkness of PPD and hadn’t yet experienced the anxiety that would creep in about 9 months later.

But the funny thing about memories is that they have a habit of sugar coating themselves. If I look back critically, it wasn’t a perfect time. We had challenges.

  1. I was exhausted. I was staying up until 2 am every night studying.
  2. Motherhood was going well but wasn’t perfect.  I was bored of being a stay at home mom and craved socialization.
  3. We could pay our bills, yes, but we were in debt up to our eyeballs. We could only afford the tiny mortgage for our tiny house because school loans, car payments, and credit card debt took up the bulk of our income. Dustin’s work situation had become unstable, his income had dropped because of other situations and he was ubering on the side to make ends meet.
  4. Although I do miss my lower-anxiety times, I had just started peeking my head out of PPD and was stuck dealing with unresolved grief from losing my mom.

After analyzing perception vs reality, I’ve realized that things may not have been all there perfect back then, but one thing remains. In the face of anxiety, excitement and wins. There is nothing more exciting than the start of a new adventure.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know starting a new business is far more fun than running a business, am I right? The funny thing is, once I got to a point I never thought I’d hit, that’s when the anxiety set in for me. What if I have a slow month? What if I make a mistake? What if I’m not good at this? What if I have to work this hard every day? What if the market crashes? What if I’m not giving enough attention to my daughter? What if my family starts to rely on my income? What if I get sick?

The reality is, in between the last two years, a whole lot of those “what ifs” did happen. It was really hard; some of our darkest times as a couple and as a family. But the amazing thing is, through those really bad, excruciating times, have come some of the things I’m most proud of. I’m no longer exhausted from staying up all night. Motherhood is more balanced as I dedicate a few days a week to my kiddo and a few days to my business. We can pay our bills and have left overs. We’ve paid off our debt and live in a beautiful house in a neighborhood we love. My anxiety is still a struggle sometimes but through therapy I’ve learned how to manage it better than ever before.

I think there’s two point to all of this.

  1. When you look back on happy times in the past, don’t forget how the hard lessons you’ve learned along the way have shaped you into the better, stronger version you are today.
  2.  Anxiety is like a fire: uncertainty and doubt are it’s fuel but excitement and gratitude are it’s “water”. You are the manager of your anxiety fire; will you feed it or extinguish it? The choice is up to you.

10 Ways being a Stay at Home Mom Made me a Better Employee

I spent the better part of 2016 as a Stay at Home Mom after having my daughter in January. At the end of the year, we decided it was time for me to return to work and I was amazed at how difficult it was to get back into the workforce after taking a year off.

As if starting a career in a new industry wasn’t hard enough (opportunities in my previous industry are quickly dwindling in the area), having a nearly one year gap of employment makes getting your resume seen seem nearly impossible. Sure, I can write a cover letter and explain that I was a stay at home mom, but does that make me less attractive as an employee? I’ve never been in the recruiting world so I can’t say for sure, but based on the lack of response I received from many jobs I was qualified for, I think it’s safe to say it does.

However, I think women wanting to get back into the work force are likely better employees than they were prior to having kids. Here’s why:

  1. More Authoritative: Let’s be honest; being authoritative in the workplace can be hard for a woman. Put your foot down and you’re a b****, let things slide and you’re an airhead. I struggled with this many times in my previous career. As a mom, I’ve mastered the art of learning to fight my battles, how to be stern without being mean, and how to regain morale after having to put my foot down.
  2. Better Trainers and Coaches: There seems to be a huge culture and communication gap in the workforce between millennials and the generations before us. I get it, we seem whiny, needy, and incapable of handling responsibility and stress. I truly believe that the root of this problem is a lack of training and coaching. I’ve seen time and time again, employees  stop thriving after leaders continually tell them “no.” No, they didn’t put this report together right, no, they didn’t get this promotion, no, their plan was “wrong.” With my daughter, I’ve quickly learned that I can’t teach her about the world by telling her “no” every time does something I don’t want her to do. Sure, knowing what “no” means is necessary (and don’t get me wrong, she hears it several times a day) but it doesn’t actually teach anything. As moms, we learn that instead of just saying no, we need to teach them why they shouldn’t do that and what they should do instead. Learning this step in coaching, and quite frankly, being in a continual state of coaching makes moms great candidates for leadership positions.
  3. Decisiveness: As a Stay at Home Mom, you are the boss and those little ones aren’t going to wait around for Mom to hum and haw over what they are going to do today, or if they should get into the cleaning supplies. Instead, we learn to act on our feet; we evaluate circumstances quickly, always keeping in mind priorities and make decisions fast.
  4. Self Motivated: Another big complaint against millennials is that they are difficult to motivate. I always thought I was self motivated, until I became a stay at home mom, and then I realized I had just skimmed the surface. As a stay at home mom, there’s no one watching you all day to make sure you get dressed, clean the house, cook the food, play with the kids. The demand for you to do these things all has to come from a desire inside yourself to do these things.
  5. Mastering the Art of Engagement and Multitasking: A few years ago, being able to classify yourself as a continual multitasker was a great advantage. Lately, science is telling us that the human brain is only really capable of focusing on one thing at a time. I think the truth is that great employees lie somewhere in the middle and what sets them apart is the ability to prioritize when to multitask and when to be engaged in one activity. As a Stay at Home Mom, your to-do list is long; cooking, cleaning, playing with your babies, etc. What I’ve learned is that little ones know when mom isn’t fully engaged and in some instances it can be harmful when we choose to multitask when we need to be engaged.
  6. Appreciate a Social Environment: One of the hardest things about becoming a Stay at Home Mom, was losing the social environment of my job. I didn’t realize how important the daily conversations about how our weekend or evenings were to my overall satisfaction. Being a Stay at Home Mom can be isolating; hire her if you’re having a strong team-like setting is important to you.
  7. Technologically Advanced/ Social Media Experts: As I mentioned in #6, finding fulfillment socially can be challenging as a Stay At Home Mom, so many women turn to social media and technology to find fulfillment and support. Without any formal training, we have a good idea of which platforms are best for what content, how to visually streamline your Instagram, optimal post frequency, etc. We probably are also very familiar with some great influencers that might be useful to your business.
  8. More Organized: Staying at home all day with a baby or toddler in a home that has no organization whatsoever is miserable. If you’re looking for a woman who’s mastered the art of decluttering and organizing, look no further than a former Stay at Home Mom.
  9. Financially Cautious: One of the scariest things as a family about having one parent stay at home, is having all of your financial “eggs” in one basket. What if the economy crashes? What if my husband doesn’t meet his sales quota? What if we get sick? Stay at Home Moms know how to prioritize financial needs like a boss and are experts at making the most of a budget.
  10. Entrepreneurial: Saved the best for last! As I mentioned in #9, managing a family’s finances on one income is hard, no matter how much the breadwinner makes. In my year as a Stay at Home Mom, I’ve never met so many entrepreneurs. These women are incredibly smart, hard working, innovative and creative people. If those traits don’t suit your search, I don’t know what will!

My question is this: how do we change the paradigm in our society that being a stay at home mom is easy? How do we communicate to corporations and recruiters that taking a year to focus on being a mom doesn’t mean that I took a year off from my growth and development? If anyone has been in these shoes and found a way to communicate this in their search, I’d love to hear it! let’s help each other out!

If you’re curious how my story ends: I chose to become a REALTOR and couldn’t be any happier. I’ve found that I like the independence of being a Stay at Home Mom and being a REALTOR allows me to have the best of both worlds!