Mom guilt, we’ve all been there!
Where is “there” you ask. “There” is the in between sweet spot where you have a flourishing career on the one side, you are the boss, the main tool in the shed, and the go to woman for everything, and then the other side where you are supermom, mom in a million, mom there for every step, every meal, every bath, every laugh, every new obstacle faced and overcome. It’s the sweet spot. The one I am still searching for.
I still look back and have a good laugh, before my little girl was born my maternity leave was two weeks. Yes, two weeks. I had no idea why everyone looked at me like I was crazy. I was going to be the woman who had her baby, had two weeks at home but then would be back on my feet, working from home or the office, baby in routine, sleeping well and this new bundle of joy would be slotting into my well planned out mommy and work sweet spot. Well two weeks, became one month, and one month turned into three months and three months turned into five months. And then I was ready to roll out on my own. Dress for success, leave my baby at home with the nanny and go out and conquer the world. And then there was a feeling, a feeling I had never felt before, what could it be? Enter mom guilt.
Up to this point, I had focused on spending time with the nanny so that I felt comfortable to leave my little one at home, prepped every evening for the next day to ensure nothing was forgotten and every meal planned. My super-nanny was amazing, and my baby girl was so happy, she wouldn’t even notice if I left home for a while. But still I would sit at work, or during the day find myself feeling guilty for number one enjoying the time to myself, for being able to sit and get my work done and not just be a mom for the day. And secondly for not being at home, worrying that she was going to do something, and I wasn’t there to see it, for not being the one feeding and changing and putting her to sleep. I started to question if I was being a good mom. If I should look at rather being a stay at home mom and rather not have to deal with my own guilt.
While dealing with my mom guilt and on my way to resignation station, I started trying to find a balance, finding the sweet spot as I put it. When does work come first and when does my child and family come first? And the simple truth is that my family will always come first but I also come first, me, myself, mom. I enjoy my job and working with people and enjoy adult conversation. I also have to have a place. And that place is during the day while doing my job or running errands for my family and in the mornings and afternoons with my little girl.
Being a mom is not easy, it is probably the hardest task I have ever encountered and the toughest full-time job, I cannot resign from. When things get tough, I have to dig in my heals and carry on. If I have to give anyone advise on how to deal with mom guilt it would be:
Number 1: don’t feel bad about having mom guilt
It is going to happen, and it does not make you any worse of a person or mom. Its normal to feel sad that you are not with your little one.
Number 2: enjoy your time away
I have found that being away for a couple of hours, allows me to cherish the time that I am at home more, and I am happier for it. I allow myself to give 100% at work and then 100% at home.
Number 3: give yourself enough time at home
Two weeks is not enough time, believe me, you need a good solid five months at home to get to know your little one, be with your nanny and your little one together and build up a relationship between the three of you, and by the five months mark you will be ready to step back into the world as you, not as a mom, but as you.
Number 4: know that your little one will always be number 1
No matter where you spend the day, you are going home to your little one and your family at the end of it all. That is where your heart will always belong.
Number 5: someone else’s opinion doesn’t matter
I am of the opinion that others make us feel more guilty than we need to. Try not to listen to what others think and what they have done. You know yourself and you know your baby. If you are not comfortable with something, don’t do it. If it works for you and your baby, then it’s the right thing to do.
Number 6: take time
Time is all the medicine you will need. Take each day as it comes, and you will find your rhythm.
So I missed resignation station and went straight onto finding my sweet spot. Some days are better than others but each and every day I get up and try my best. I still evaluate my days and weeks and if something doesn’t work or doesn’t feel right, I don’t force it, I merely try it a different way until it fits.
You do you, Mommy, everything else will slot in as it needs to, and soon you will be finding your own “sweet spot.”
What Makes Women Better Virtual Assistants?
I am woman, hear me roar! It is Women’s Month in South Africa and we are celebrating all women in all shapes and forms and saying – YES! You are strong. You are capable. You are loved. You are part of a tribe that cannot be broken.
The date, 9 August is the day we celebrate Women’s Day here in South Africa, and it is not to be confused with the International Women’s Day which takes place globally in March. This date, 9 August, is significant to us as a nation due to the fact that a plethora of women, regardless of age and race, stood together and marched to the Union Buildings declaring the need for the abolishment of passes which women needed to have to move around freely – I mean really now – how was this even a thing at all??
But anyway, due that movement and the amazing women who stood together then – and for those who stand together today and shall stand together (hopefully) going forward, women have being liberated and are free to go wherever they want. Do whatever they want (within reason of course …..hehehe). Our daughters can choose to be ballerinas or they can choose to be astronauts or rally car drivers. The sky is the limit!
So – what does this have to do with women being better virtual assistants? Well isn’t it obvious??
Let’s break it down….
MEN ARE GREAT, BUT WE ARE BETTER
Okay, so I adore my husband to no end, and men in general are pretty great to have around, right? So I am not saying they are not up to the challenge of being a Virtual Assistant – not at all – but the likelihood is that a women will always be better at this particular job than a man.
Well simply put, women are fierce and can take on anything that comes their way. We are daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, friends and, in this instance, virtual assistants – that is a whole lot of hats to wear – and we wear them all almost every day.
The ability to wear those hats and juggle, what seems like, a million and one things daily is the art of MULTITASKING. Now I do not know about you, but in my house “male” does not equate to “multitasker”. I can pretty much be reading an email, putting food on the stove, preparing some juice for the kids and possibly even be filling the sink to do dishes – all at the same time – and not miss a beat. Hubby cannot even talk and do the dishes at the same time (bless his socks!)
As a virtual assistant, multitasking comes with the territory a lot of the time. So that is reason number 1.
How about TIME MANAGEMENT? Yep, you guessed it, again women are generally better at this too. (I say generally because it is not always the case, but it is more probable for a women to have better time management skills than men.)
Being on time is not always a thing for men but women tend to always have schedules and routines and although this can maybe cause a bit of stress, the end result of being organized and focused and things falling into place because of it will be worth it.
Time management is an important, in fact incredibly important skill to have when working as a virtual assistant.
Now scientists also did studies on what differentiates men and women (besides the obvious!) and came up with things like a women’s ability to recall things better, better memory. A woman can recall if things have changed or being moved in certain spaces they frequent as they tend to use landmarks a lot in every day life. Men are generally more about the route to the goal and how to get there and whatever is along the way kind of falls by the wayside (eg women shopping vs men shopping)
They also discovered that females tend to work with and recall numbers and lists better than a male would and things like putting pegs into a peg board was more meticulously done by females.
This brings me to the last, but certainly not least, skill that a woman has, giving her an advantage in the VA world – ATTENTION TO DETAIL.
Attention to detail is key when you work as a virtual assistant because most times you would have more than one client, more than one task on the go and missing details could be to the detriment of the client, and ultimately you too.
Being able to analyse and figure out things, looking for and scanning the finer details, these are things that women do better and that is probably also due to the PATIENCE LEVEL of a woman, versus a man.
I think it is also important to note that PASSION is another element that plays an important role in being a virtual assistant – not to say men do not have passion, but for a woman working as a VA is usually a choice made so that she can stay home with the kids and therefore having a passion for what she does means that she will do it well and be able to continue her journey and therefore also set a fantastic example for her kids – using her passion for them and for the work that she does.
Wow, that is a whole lot of words right there about how amazing women are – so I think it is only fair to also mention here at the end that MEN are pretty darn special too and hopefully most of us ladies that work from home and are trying to win at this remote lifestyle have an incredible dude standing beside us egging us on. Someone to lean on at the end of a treacherous day of technical failures or failures of other kinds – providing a good shoulder rub and topping up the wine glass!
Again I will end by saying – I am woman, hear me roar! Go out and have a stupendous Women’s Month – hey make it Women’s Year!
The Unstoppable Force of a Motivated Women
Overall, becoming an entrepreneur is a very daunting task for most individuals, and rightly so. While the individual’s success might be seen so easily, what doesn’t get seen is the sacrifice, long hours, the having to make tough choices, the commitment to learning new skills, the self – doubt, the failures nor the amount of coffee it takes to get to that point of success.
Women in business very often have the added pressure to find the balance between perusing their passion with their role of being a wife, mom, friend, daughter, etc. This daily struggle to be the best version of themselves is, however, what makes a woman in business so unstoppable.
Paving the way
Growing up I was always fascinated with powerful, successful women and many hours where spent reading bibliographies and news articles on women such as Margaret Thatcher, Oprah Winfrey, and Esteé Lauder while daydreaming of how I wanted to have my version of their success one day. For years women have been showing the world how resilient and powerful they can really be, paving the way for us to be able to freely and confidently step out of our comfort zones and conquer any sector or industry we choose to enter. Aside from these powerful women, I have mentioned, my biggest inspiration and example was my mom. A woman who left her birth country behind to support her husband in trying to build a better life for themselves and their children, she used to work 12 -14 hour days in the business with my dad and would get home and be a full hands-on wife and mom. Today more than ever, I am convinced she is secretly superhuman because I don’t know how she did it all on her own but aside from that I realised it was an ‘ordinary’ woman who paved the way to my entrepreneurial journey.
Ordinary, the new Extraordinary
This past women’s day, I was fortunate enough to spend the morning with a diverse group of female entrepreneurs. We started the morning with as ordinary women with general chatter and introductions, we left as powerful, motivated and united women in business. After listening to each women’s story, learning about their challenges, their different skills, their motivations, their failures, the heartaches they have had to endure, their successes, I have never been prouder to be a woman! FH Sin put it beautifully saying “her soul is fierce, her heart is brave, her mind is strong”. These women, like various other I have the privilege to work with daily all seem to have the following seemingly ordinary characteristics that make them extraordinary:
- They are deeply passionate
- They do not expect perfection, they assess, learn, do their best and adjust the plan if needed
- They are not afraid to take risks
- They believe they are a success
- They practice gratitude
If it was easy, everyone would do it
Some people define an Entrepreneur as a crazy person who risks their own money for freedom, rather than exchanging their freedom for money – and I have to agree that takes a special individual to take the risk to go out and build their own legacy and their own version of success. To all my fellow women in business I would like to say thank you for being such an inspiration to those around you, keep showing up when most people would quit, believe you can – because you will and no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show and never give up!
How Women in Power are Changing the World
Public holiday, who cares? We can rest….. But every single woman in South Africa needs to care. We need to understand why this is such an important month in the history of our country. Women’s Month in August is a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. The Government of South Africa declared August as women’s month and 9 August is celebrated annually as Women’s Day. Women were somewhat regarded as inferior to their male counterparts then. Fast forward 63 years, and women are seen as equal and paid and treated as such.
Women in power in South Africa making a change
Growing up I always imagined being someone that can make a real change, not only to my immediate family but also to people around me. Especially during August I have seen articles about women doing just that. It all started with a heart, to be understanding and empathetic towards others. And let`s face it, women are good at seeing the need of others. Salute ladies, and let us go on this journey of getting to know my top four inspirational women:
Saray is an award-winning mountaineer, a Mandela libraries ambassador, a social entrepreneur, a mother of two boys and also an executive for one of the distinguished financial institutions in South Africa. Over time she has demonstrated her commitment to making a difference in her environment through mountaineering. Through her climbing with a purpose initiative, Saray has organized and been part of the following initiatives:
- Climbing Kilimanjaro with a purpose (self-funded climb) which built an outdoor gym for Kids Havenworth R200,000 and also converted a room into a library.
- Climbing Everest in 2014 raised funds forThe Lunch Box Fund to feed over 60,000 children.
- Climbing Everst in 2015 raised funds for The Mandela Library Projects and built a library for Isiziba Primary School in Thembisa, Johannesburg.
- Climbing Everest in 2018 raised funds of over R800,000for The Mandela Library Projects and built four libraries across South Africa. She continues to campaign for more libraries as she takes steps towards the seven highest peaks on the seven continents around the world.
# Caster Semenya, standing up for human rights.
Wikipedia describes Mokgadi Caster Semenya as follow: “OIB (born 7 January 1991) is a South African middle-distance runner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist. She won gold in the women’s 800 meters at the 2009 World Championships with a time of 1:55.45 and at the 2017 World Championships in her new personal best, 1:55.16. She also won the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in the 800 meters. She was the winner of the gold medal in the 800 meter events at the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2016 Summer Olympics.
Following her victory at the 2009 World Championships, it was announced that she had been subjected to sex testing. She was withdrawn from international competition until 6 July 2010 when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cleared her to return to competition. In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman included her in a list of “50 People That Matter 2010”.”
Semenya is not allowed to participate in this year’s World Championships in Doha, as her testosterone levels need to be reduced as ruled by the IAAF. Luckily the South African Cabinet fully supports Semenya as she appeals and fights for her fundamental human rights. Like all other athletes, she is entitled to compete without being obliged to alter her body by any medical means. And following Semenya`s very public career over the last nine years, I am sure she will still be fighting for many years to come.
# Tracey Chambers and Tracey Gillmore, educating and clothing the underprivileged
These two women realized they can make a difference in the lives of women, and people in general, by letting their empathy grow into a business. They started the ClothingBank of South Africa, by clothing and educating people. In their own words: “We believe that becoming a self-employed business owner is something everyone can do, irrespective of their education levels and resources, as long as they are self-motivated and well supported (mentally and emotionally). We have developed a holistic eco-system, which successfully engages families living in poverty to chart a path out of poverty. Our projects have been changing lives for the last eight years.” Visit their website for more information: https://theclothingbank.org.za/
How can I make a difference
Following these wonderful women did make me feel unmotivated for a second, before I was left amazed. I wanted to be them, and here I am 37 years old, not summiting mountains, un-athletic and unentrepreneurial. I voiced this to my friend and very small business partner (who is really unprivileged, sleeping on someone’s kitchen floor, cleaning houses for a living). She said that you should never think something is unimportant to the person next to you. We can always, as women, have an empathetic heart and ear to our sisters. Sometimes, without even realizing it, by listening you can show love and affection. For too many years, sisters in South Africa were not heard, until they gathered, mobilized and moved. And because they did, my heroes are out in the open, voicing their concerns and making changes without needing to stand back.
Secondly, we should remember to never quite. Even if we feel we do not have the capacity or mental ability to do something, just keep going. All of the women mentioned above must have felt deflated and wanting to quite somewhere down the line, but they pushed through and always educated and kept training in their areas of specialities.
In bringing it together I thought it would be best to share this poem by Maya Angelou:
’You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.’
Celebrating women’s month like the BO$$ you are
A life coach commented something that was really interesting to me the other day. It was about living your dream life. You know, the one where you drive the Porché, have the 8 bedroom house and earn 6 figures. Somehow this month’s topic reminded me of that. Celebrating women’s month by being the BOSS you are meant to be.
We often get side-tracked by our work. As women, we are working bees and always make sure everything runs smoothly be it at work or at home we never just step back and make it about us for a change. If you’re like me you don’t invest in yourself too often, well lady it’s time to step up.
Now look, I’m not saying go crazy and spend your savings on a new car but there are loads of things you can do to spoil yourself into the life that you dream for yourself. How? Well…
First step is to plan it out. Write down everything in detail. How do you look, what do you wear, how do you walk, what do you drive, where do you live, how is your relationships, how does your day go. The more detail the better. This is your ideal life, the best you that you can possibly be.
Once you have that down, start by taking each thing and thinking about what you can do today to get a little bit closer to that? This is where the fun comes in! A couple of ideas could be, get your nails done or a facial, take that car you have in mind for a test drive, put your yellow high heels on and go have lunch at that spiffy restaurant you’ve been pining for. The list is endless and dependent on what you’ve got on your list. Some things take a bit more effort, like improving on your relationships but if you take it step by step you’ll see an improvement in no time.
This list isn’t just something to aspire to but it becomes goals that you can live towards each day. Make a point of it to do at least one thing each month that draws you closer. This keeps you in the game.
So even though this is women’s month, see it as a chance to become the warrior you are inside and start living like the CEO or President of your life. Women are a force to be reckoned with but we are too busy backstage making sure everyone else is on their game and are living their best lives that we seldom have time or energy to work on our own.
This month I challenge you to make your list and start a bit of self-care in the right direction. Working on your goals a little bit every day gets you much closer than writing them down in January and never looking at them again.
Take yourself out for a change and celebrate the awesomeness that is you, I dare you!