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The untold secrets about raising young kids and your career.

Updated: Jun 15

I hesitated a lot about writing on this topic—career and young kids in one sentence would get me into a lot of trouble, right? :) However, I still think it would be useful to mention a few things when talking about work and young children (under 3 years old). And if you're expecting me to list the "pros" or "cons" of having a career with young kids, I'm sorry to disappoint you. In the following lines, I will try to help you look at this issue from a slightly different angle and almost say out loud those things that are often left unsaid both in the office and on the playground, and are not found in parenting books. All these points are based on materials I've read on the subject, personal coaching sessions with the women I work with, and my observations, without claiming to be exhaustive.

First and foremost, the world is not designed for full-time working mothers who care for young children, follow all best parenting practices, prepare daily sensory games, serve"quick" and delicious healthy meals every day, climb the career ladder, have no help, and still have a ready list of destinations for their next family vacation. The truth is, this example often illustrates not one, but several mothers, several women at once. Elif Shafak describes this situation in a very enjoyable way in her book "Black Milk." We often compete with ourselves and try to keep up with all these examples around us simultaneously. However, the reality is extremely individual for everyone, and our capabilities have time, financial, emotional, and physical limits. And here, it’s not about how someone is managing. the chaos around, but for me, it's about how someone feels - we could achieve more and feel better when we notice early enough that our emotional, physical and mental health is slipping away.

Now to the untold secrets

1. Your career may slow down, especially without having some preparation in advance

The female brain and how we operate even on a subconscious level is an interesting phenomenon. Some time ago, I came across a TED Talk (starting at the 11th minute) that made a strong impression on me regarding the topic of female leaders and why we still have so few women in leadership positions globally. According to Sheryl Sandberg (former COO and board member at Meta, philanthropist and a woman with extensive management experience), she shares an intriguing perspective in this video that I had never considered. According to her and many studies, women start stepping back from their careers not just after motherhood, but long before that, even before getting pregnant, and actually step back before even thinking about having a child. At this point, consciously or not, we miss opportunities for promotion, stop actively participating in our professional engagements, and begin to feel uncertain and insecure, even if we enjoy our work. And you might think, "Of course, I’ll reduce my career focus because now I’m thinking about having a child." Maybe you’re right, but I mention this as a wink to the processes happening in our maternal or pre-maternal brain.

As someone who has checked various boxes throughout life: graduation, profession, development, manager, large corporation, dream job, partner, family, children, etc., I was absolutely sure that I would manage my professional development after motherhood, that I would catch up in a month, and be one of those happy mothers who have it all. Reality sometimes turns out to be different from our expectations. Balancing a career and young children is challenging; starting a business and having young children is challenging; returning to work after maternity leave can be stressful, or it might not apply to you at all. But if you’re not feeling well with this or another choice, I would advise you to ask yourself, "What is truly important to me right now?"

2. Financial aspects

The topic of pay is another taboo subject, especially for mothers. It’s not about prioritising money over the child. It is about being silent on that matter. We all know that we as women fall behind financially, and this is an undeniable global fact (in Bulgaria, the pay gap between men and women in the same roles is 12.2%). The reasons for this are many, but when combined with low self-esteem, lack of confidence, poor negotiation skills, unclear vision of our abilities and strengths, constantly sick children, and insufficient daycare spots, the result is financially unsatisfying for us (undoubtedly!), and it can also become performance-unsatisfactory for the employer. Why do I bring up the employer? Because an unsupportive environment quickly pushes parents towards leaving or staying in the form of "quiet quitting," which generally manifests as disengagement, falling behind on tasks, and demotivation. It would be extremely beneficial if employers and employees could talk in a calm and secure environment to find a common ground. I'm happy to see that many employers are expanding their benefits packages and offering flexibility, but I hope these processes continue in the future and go beyond just bonuses or work from home opportunities.

3. You may experience a misalignment with your values or a sense of "meaning" at work.

Parenting rewires work perspectives: less tolerance, more quest for meaning, joy, and balance. The therapist would say you have a postpartum depression, the doctors will ask you to examine your hormone levels, your colleagues would say that you are the next mom that have a burnout after getting back to work. There could be some truth in between all of these. The reality says that yes, many women start thinking about their professional development from a different angle. We begin to seek more meaning, satisfaction, and joy, as well as flexibility that allows us to be both mothers and professionals.

3. the support we need

Another hot topic is titled "Is there someone who could help you?" Those who know me know that we didn’t have help from anyone - no grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc. BUT I was fortunate with a wonderful employer, a home office setup, flexible working hours, and an endlessly supportive husband who also works from home. So, regardless of what others may say, support is crucial, and I wouldn’t have coped without everything listed above, as much as I love both my work and my family. And if you’ve decided to combine work and a young child, as women, it's good to consider assistance rather than waving it off as a sign of our "weakness." If we have the opportunity for help and would be open to accept it - just do it. Even if we lack support from those around us, simply adjusting expectations, our day, and our goals can have a positive effect. Whatever your situation is, there’s always a laying solution. You just need to find your own formula, test it, and then boldly move forward.

5. the judgement

"-How you dare to get back to work after so short time? This are the most precious moments with your kid, they will never come back"

"-How you dare to be at home and take care of your kids and household "only"? When do you plan to get back to work? Don't you want to be financially independent?"

I am sure you can relate to one of those two at some point. We constantly feel the need to validate our choices with other human beings. Some mothers will pull out statistics about how a child develops when close to their mother as long as possible, while others will argue about financial security and personal fulfilment with work. And the saddest part is that both groups are right, especially from their own universe. Judgment constantly lingers in the air and around every Facebook group for mothers. This doesn't help. Turning inward would be far more beneficial. The answers to questions like "Who am I?" "What would I actually want for myself in the ideal (even impossible) world I dream of?" "How does my choice make me feel?" "Did I make a choice, or was I forced by circumstances?" The more you are in harmony with yourself and have clarity, the less external judgment will affect us.

why did i write all these?

Because it's good to keep all these things in mind. It's good to be clear that there are no perfect choices, no perfect mothers, no ideal world, and nothing is as good or as bad as it seems. Because I believe that with a little support, personal awareness, rearranging the puzzle called life, and of course, care from the employer, things happen in the best possible way. You have the knowledge and skills to handle any choice, and I fully believe in your abilities - both as a coach advocating these values in methodology, and as a mother, and as a professional. Good luck!


I empower working moms to find balance and satisfaction.

I create tailored corporate solutions for employee well-being, including support for returning mothers and emotional health initiatives.



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