Becoming a parent inevitably means every aspect of life will change. However, while certain shifts may be predictable, others may feel a bit more unexpected. Some mothers may find that their definition of “success” may completely transform, they may need to enforce stricter boundaries, or their perfectionist tendencies may need to be re-evaluated. 

“In the pre-kid and pre-pandemic era, my priorities were heavily skewed toward meeting societal definitions of what success looked like,” said Melinda Haughey, CEO of Proxi. “When I became a parent for the first time, it triggered a year-long mental health struggle. Since then, I've tried to focus more on balance, happiness, and using my scarce time to work on things that bring true fulfillment and energy to my life.”

Understanding that knowledge is power, we spoke with nine working mothers from the Dreamers & Doers collective to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how exactly their personal priorities have changed. While no one can fully prepare for the shifts that will come when becoming a parent, we hope their insights will inform new parents and help demystify what life may look like after children enter the picture. 

I had to re-evaluate all commitments in my life

Sydney Petite

“I never expected to become a single, sole custodial parent when I had my first child, let alone the initial shock when I found out I was pregnant with twins early into a separation with my ex-husband. We left a toxic situation and the journey has been comprised of many challenges. I have learned the importance of valuing my time. If I am giving anyone my time or attention, whether in my personal or work life, that is time spent away from my children. That alone has influenced so many decisions and how I prioritize work agreements, social outings, and overall commitments.” - Sydney Petite, Chief Strategy Officer at Royal Street Agency

I became comfortable saying “no”

Sehreen Noor Ali

“My younger daughter has physical disabilities that required me to drop everything that wasn't absolutely necessary or joyful in my life. In the process, I've developed an intuition and an acceptance for knowing when to say "no" to people, requests, and opportunities. It has been nothing short of liberating.” - Sehreen Noor Ali, Co-Founder of Sleuth

I had to intentionally make time for myself—not just my new baby

Georgie-Ann Getton

“When I became a mom for the first time I was in high school and a single mom. The second time around I was married, working full time, and already had a child. I expected the second time to be easier because I was older and had more experience, but it was twice as hard. Being a mom the second time, I had to be really intentional about incorporating raising a newborn in my already packed schedule. It was very difficult to find time for not just for my amazing new addition, but for myself.” - Georgie-Ann Getton, Founder and CEO of GSD Solutions

The relationship I had with my parents became crucial

Cassandra Rose

“My relationship with my parents have become a top priority for me since becoming a mom. It truly does take a village to raise a child and my parents have stepped up for me in ways I didn't know I needed. From picking up my son from daycare so I can stay at work for an important meeting to encouraging me to continue pursuing my career ambitions, I am more grateful and intentional with spending time with them than ever.” - Cassandra Rose, Partner at Meritarc

I became focused on finding balance, happiness, and fulfillment

Melinda Haughey

“In the pre-kid and pre-pandemic era, my priorities were heavily skewed toward meeting societal definitions of what success looked like. I thought that having a child would make me even more focused on preparing for their future and setting the stage for financial success in our family. Yet March 2020, when I became a parent for the first time, triggered a year-long mental health struggle. Since then, I've tried to focus more on balance, happiness, and using my scarce time to work on things that bring true fulfillment and energy to my life rather than feeling like I have to conform to expectations.” - Melinda Haughey, CEO of Proxi

My perfectionist tendencies eased 

Lucie Thome

“When I was pregnant with my son, I was ready. I am mostly a perfectionist in both life and at work so it was no surprise that I had a whole plan ready for my pregnancy, birth, and baby arrival. Needless to say, I did not have a plan when the whole world shut down as I entered month seven of pregnancy. I think that becoming a mother in these conditions changed me as a person. I felt very lonely and had a very hard postpartum as we were separated from the world and we had to learn, heal, and care all by ourselves. But what really mattered at the end is that I changed my way of doing things—I became much more at ease with challenges and the unexpected.” - Lucie Thome, Founder at Bébé Foodie

Protecting my mental energy became a non-negotiable

Mez Gallifuoco

“My priorities have become far more pronounced since becoming a parent. With less time, I realized that so many things I gave my time to aren't worth giving time to. I watch far less news than I used to because protecting my mental energy and being present for my family is a new priority.” - Mez Gallifuoco, Founder of The Mad Ones

I focused more on the simple things in life

Far Momin

“Since I became a mother, time has been more precious than ever. I work around my child and family first and run two small businesses on the side. I'm focused on cooking healthy meals, spending quality family time, and taking care of my mental health. Getting these simple things right helps me manage complex matters better.” - Far Momin

Weekly date nights became a must

Carrie Sporer

“A lot of moms I know say that after having children, quality time with their partners has become totally derailed. I know that it may not be a popular opinion, but we hired a babysitter as early as five weeks after my first son was born so that we could start weekly date nights. My husband and I chose to prioritize our relationship, and make sure we didn't lose scheduled alone time. I know that it has been the right decision for us.” - Carrie Sporer, Co-Founder of SWAIR

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you’re interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please email [email protected]mother.ly.