Menu

Working makes me a better mother—and motherhood makes me a better worker

Some of us are invigorated by the day-to-day of motherhood. And some of us need something outside of motherhood to keep that cup full enough to be able to pour out all that our family needs to thrive.

Working makes me a better mother—and motherhood makes me a better worker

I love being a mom. I love working. My motherhood defines me. So does my work. For me, it's not an either/or thing. It's an and. Equally important, I am truly empowered by both.


Before I became a mom, my work was my life.

I thought about it all the time. I woke up in the morning and parsed out my day in the shower, then detailed the minutes during my commute and usually enjoyed a well-executed plan throughout the day—without much interference—revisiting the wins and losses on the journey back home in the evening, satisfied that I was one more step further down the path towards my goals. I was happy. I was fulfilled.

FEATURED VIDEO

Then I became a mom.

And I realized that my fulfillment was only partial. There was a whole half of me I didn't even know existed. No one could have prepared me for the transformation that happened when I became a mom.

Nothing before having children had ever reached that depth in my soul or expanded my heart and notion of everything I believed was possible in life. Suddenly everything took on new meaning and relevance. Suddenly everything I did was seen through the lens of motherhood and how it affects my family.

Motherhood is a full-body sport. and there's a lot of hands-on that comes with wrangling little ones. And though the mental load is comprised mostly of to-do lists dictated by the three-foot-and-under crowd, there is also the mental task of trying to remain one step ahead so as not to be outsmarted by them while they do the important work of challenging boundaries and stretching limits.

On a good day, this can be exhausting, even for the most veteran of us. And on a bad day, well, on those days we have coffee—lots of coffee—and later, wine. It takes a lot to keep up.

Some of us are invigorated by the day-to-day of motherhood. And some of us need something outside of motherhood to keep that cup full enough to be able to pour out all our family needs to thrive.

Before I went back to work, it was far too easy for me to become complacent at home, blaming a long day of duties for the lack of energy and will to give even more. I was watching the clock tick towards bedtime—both their's and mine— resenting myself for how I felt, and them for how much I was needed.

Bottom line, I was not completely happy. And instead of looking to my husband to fulfill every adult need I may have had, draining, perplexing and vexing him in the process, I realized I needed to take care of what it meant to me to be fulfilled.

For me, that's work.

My work validates me, defining me in a way that motherhood cannot, reaffirming that I am an individual independent of my role as wife and mother. My work is rejuvenating, giving me the energy and resources to bring my best self to my family. And if work is what allows me to be that best version of myself, then I need to own it.

There are so many benefits of work to appreciate, but now there is also something else. Now I'm working not just for me, but for my littles at home who see what I do and how it teaches them they can do what they set their mind to, that sometimes it's difficult, but you have to focus, prioritize, sacrifice and work hard for what you want.

My motherhood helps me appreciate my work more… for the opportunities it gives me to model perseverance, strength, commitment, determination.

My motherhood helps me appreciate my work more… for the perspective it provides me on the importance of motherhood and my job of raising these little humans—the important work of providing them with a childhood and all the love and care and support that entails.

My motherhood helps me appreciate my work more… for what it allows me to add to my family—the funds to enrich their lives with experiences and the extras that bring out the talents of each one, but can add up to more than can be siphoned off a single income.

My motherhood helps me appreciate my work more… for the dedicated time I have to use the part of my intellect that cannot be satisfied by the company of these cute little creatures who compel me to abandon all things adult and just immerse myself in their sweet world.

My motherhood helps me appreciate my work more… for the distance it gives me to see more clearly how to make each day count. Both at home and at the office, I can see what is most important, what needs more attention, what needs to be addressed, what needs to be done to keep moving forward.

Each day I go to work and focus attention and intent on keeping my career momentum up to speed, if not sped up, with the clarity that an awareness of a newfound value of time imparts. Then at the end of a full day, I turn my attention towards home, satisfied, making my way, with a full cup, ready to pour, thinking of all that may have happened and what I will do to make the rest of the moments of the day matter and count toward moving everything and everyone in the right direction.

At home, I savor… the moments with my kiddos, marveling at how each has grown that very day, my distance bringing into sharp focus the difference in each from the day before. I can hear a new word learned (and hysterically uttered). I can see a new skill developing, however awkwardly executed.

At home, I savor… watching my child's new ability to think, do, feel, say. Sometimes the difference from the previous day is so stark that I catch my breath—not necessarily in regret, but in awe of the tremendous transformation that can happen in a mere 24 hours. And sometimes the difference is so subtle that it can be sensed only when very, very still, in the quiet of a bedtime tuck-in, or after all is said and done, in the reflection of a full day.

At home, I savor… the moments I connect with my husband, that extra splash of wine after the kids are in bed, extending the conversation that connects us, the amalgam of our days setting the next stone along the path towards our mutual goals.

When I feel complete and whole, I provide a solid foundation upon which I can build the best life for my family. If that foundation is weak because it is lacking fortification or is only partially poured, then everything I build atop it will be compromised, uneven, relying on other elements in ways that distort and weaken the structure, my family.

I love owning what fills my cup, and I love having a family to come home to that fills my soul.

As a mother and a professional, these two halves create a whole that makes me the best person I can be.

And that's good for everyone.

In This Article

    14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Shop

    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

    Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop

    Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

    So, what's new this week?

    Happiest Baby: Baby sleep solutions designed by the experts

    Created by renowned pediatrician, baby sleep expert and (as some might say) lifesaver Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby has been helping new parents understand and nurture their infants for close to two decades. Building on the success of his celebrated books and video The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block he's developed groundbreaking, science-based product solutions that conquer a new parent's top stressor—exhaustion.

    WSEL Bags: Dad-designed diaper bags that think of everything

    WSEL stands for work smart, enjoy life—an ethos we couldn't agree with more. Founded by a stay at home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, these premium, adventure-ready backpacks are ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

    Codex Beauty: Exceptionally effective sustainable skin care

    Codex Beauty's line of sustainable plant-based skin care blends the science of plant biology with biotech innovations, to create clinically proven, state-of-the-art products for all skin types. They're all vegan, EWG and Leaping Bunny verified and created in collaboration with Herbal Scientist Tracy Ryan who uses concepts dating back to the 8th century leveraging plants like sea buckthorn and calendula flower. Not only are we totally crushing on the innovative formulas that are in the packaging but we're in love with the sustainable sugarcane-derived tubes as well.

    Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop