The public relations industry is fast-paced and can be extremely demanding. It’s even been rated as one of the most stressful jobs in America, right behind jobs where there is actual physical danger, including military personnel, firefighters and airline pilots. Just when you think you might have mastered the skills to anticipate and effectively address most any public relations situation and have kept the stress level under control, you add a new client or two to the mix—the kid kind.
Suddenly you are doing an already demanding job on little sleep. You wake up on the day of an important presentation to a sweet little person who has a double ear infection, and the only pediatrician appointment that’s available is during the time you’re supposed to have a status meeting with your boss.
You have to work against the clock each day to get to daycare. You feel guilty that you should be spending more time on your child’s development because that other kid at daycare is saying 52 new words.
Putting together that spectacular baby book has been on the list for 10 months and all of your pictures are still on your iPhone. And, oh, you actually want to spend some time with your child.
In a recent survey, fewer than 3% of women felt they had enough hours in the day to do what they had to do while 97% said they felt stressed, according to a survey by Working Mother.
What’s a parent who wants to maintain a successful public relations career to do? Join a mom’s work/life balance group? Probably not, because that just takes more time.
In talking with some of the most successful professional working moms who I know, here are six tips:
▶ Stop trying to have work/life balance—think of each day as a work/life pendulum. Some days we need to give more time to our families and personal lives. Some days we need to give more time to work. Trust yourself to make the right decision for that day.
▶ It takes two. No parent can do it all, and you have to expect and allow the other parent to help. Moms tend to think that if they aren’t doing more of the caretaking, they are failing. And for goodness sake, other moms should not talk about those moms negatively; they should support them no matter, even if you’ve made a different choice.
▶ Let go of the guilt. We actually spend more time with our kids now than moms did 20 years ago. In 1995, mothers spent an average of 12 hours a week actively attending to their children, not including regular time “around” their kids (e.g., dinner).
By 2007, that number rose to 21 hours. That’s a 43% increase in parenting every week, per a University of California, San Diego study. Dads remain behind moms in terms of the amount of child care they provide, but in that same time period they also doubled their hours of hands-on parenting.
▶ Get some help. A successful public relations professional who is also a mom mentioned to me that she was, “not sure I can do this anymore.” I asked her what her main source of stress was. She said it was leaving work with incomplete projects on the table to get to daycare pick-up on time.
I suggested she hire a nanny to take her son home two or three days a week and make those her later days to catch up or get ahead. The amount of stress it relieved was huge. And her son is learning new things from his part-time nanny.
▶ Rely on your fellow moms. My colleagues and I cover for each other when one of us has a preschool play or parent-teacher conference during the workday. Parents will support other parents because they know they’ll need a favor returned.
▶ Stay in the race. A young woman once said to me that she was going to change careers because she might be having kids in the next few years. What? Give yourself time to show yourself what you can do. You can always change later, if you need to, but don’t become so focused on what might happen that you don’t make what is right in front of you happen.
After all, being a parent brings newfound creativity to ideas while allowing you to reach your efficiency potential. And you’re setting a great example for your children, demonstrating how they (or the women in their lives) can be successful. PRN
Special shout-out to Angela Byrne, Cognito, for suggesting this article.
Julie Batliner is managing director at Carmichael Lynch Spong. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the March 24, 2014 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.