Wearing so many hats you’ve lost sight of the one that fits best? Find out how Felicity’s Geriatric Care Consultant and Social Worker, Alana Warner, adapted her definition of work life balance.
I’ve worn many hats in my life, so far. Daughter, sister, student, social worker, mom and and working mom. Most recently the hat I tried on was that of “Mom-trepreneur.”
Mom-trepreneur, the new catchy phrase to describe a working mom who is entrepreneurial. I thought starting my own business, a private practice, was the direction I wanted my career and life to take. I wanted this hat to fit so badly. I had visions of taking my kids to school, working so chicly out of our home office or Starbucks, grocery shopping, working out, picking my kids up from school, making dinner, packing lunches, being around for bedtime, catching up on a little more work and then doing it all over again the next day.
It sounded so glamorous and balanced. I could do it all. I wouldn’t miss out on being there for my kids because I could build my own schedule. I could work around my childcare arrangements. I could have it all!
Until I couldn’t.
There is a saying “when people make plans, god laughs”. I quit my job of almost ten years as a social worker in a prominent downtown hospital, and was ready to take on the world in my own private practice. Little did I know that the most wonderful surprise and biggest wrench in my plans was on its way. I found out I was pregnant with my third child just two months after quitting my job. Goodbye benefits and paid maternity leave, hello complications. I was blessed and to say I wasn’t excited for the good news would be a lie, but I was also terrified. What did this mean for my work plans? How would we support our growing family without all the bonuses and luxuries we take for granted in Canada like EI and maternity leave.
My pregnancy was a challenging one and did not bode well for me developing and growing my business. My delivery, a C-section, also had its challenges and my postpartum period did not include an easy bounce back like all the celebrity magazines feature. After my first six weeks at home recovering physically, I found I was spending my days doing carpool, packing lunches, nursing, buying groceries, nursing some more and just trying to keep our household running. There was no room for entrepreneurial endeavours. No glamorous business meetings and cute suits to wear. My uniform of sweatpants, nursing tank tops and bedhead following sleepless nights didn’t match the plan I had made.
But what was I to do? I had left my job, and the plan wasn’t fitting the reality of my lifestyle. It was hard to market myself and make cold calls to referral sources, on 2 hours of sleep. Difficult to be motivated to “get out there” when I all I wanted to do was sleep when the baby sleeps, or play with my older children.
So what to do? Do I try to make it work? Do I try something different? Do I give up on my dreams of work life balance?
As I started to contemplate my options, I realized that the idea of work life balance is a myth. I’m the type of person who likes to be able to devote 100% of myself to my work when I’m at work, and when I am at home, I want to be able to devote 100% of myself to my family. Being an entrepreneur is way harder than just closing your office door of your 9 to 5 job and going home for the evening. There are phone calls, case notes, marketing meetings, networking sessions and so much more, all needed to help build the business.
And so, after a year of solo “mom-trepreuneriship” I have adapted my work yet again. In addition to my role at Felicity, I have taken on a 9 to 5, part time position, where I can close my door at 5 and go home to my kids and just be the best mom that I can be. This may not be the version of “work life balance” I’d initially imagined, but it’s one that I think will work better for me. I can do it all, just a little differently than I planned. I changed my hat to one that fits better, at least for right now. Who knows? I may put that mom-trepreuner hat back on again one day, when the time — and fit — is right.