1. Beyond the ‘bounce back’: take time for yourself
As a new mom, your postpartum recovery is about more than your body. Along with physical changes, you also deal with mental challenges like negotiating your identity. Your life is more than work and motherhood.
2. Lean on your support system: it takes a village
A big kudos to any parent who has ever had to do it with no support.
If you’re lucky enough to have people around to assist you, accept the help. Without husbae and my family’s active involvement in our tiny human’s development, I would not be as snatched with edges intact as I am right now.
Use some of your time away to hang out with grown-ups. Focus on nurturing your most meaningful relationships. If you feel a little bit guilty – it’s normal. On my first date night away from the baby, I constantly checked in with my mother-in-law. I eventually allowed myself to relax and enjoy the time out. So can you!
3. Filter out the noise: set boundaries
As a new career mom, you become privy to a lot of well-meaning advice that might not be right for you.
You must be discerning and accept only the advice you deem resourceful. Filter out the noise by setting clear boundaries.
4. Learn to trust yourself
To every mother, biologically or otherwise – you are doing great. Trust the process and most importantly, trust YOURSELF!
Ungazilibali is an isiXhosa (South African) word meaning ‘do not forget yourself’. It’s the word I think about when I’m faced with self-doubt and anxiety in balancing work and parenting. When those moments come, it’s important to have one go-to thought that reminds you of why you are a badass!
I think of my mother, grandmother (RIP) and mother-in-law, my role models. Remembering that I come from a line of strong women helps me re-center myself. They did a stellar job, and so can I.
Life as a new career mom is not a walk in the park, but if you can take time for yourself, lean on the support of people who love you, set boundaries and learn to trust yourself, you’ll be physically and mentally okay.
When all else fails, ungazilibali. Don’t forget (or lose) yourself on this journey!
Are you mentally exhausted? Get Peace Hyde’s free tips for fighting against the odds here.
Oluwatoyin Egedi is a Civil Engineer by training but an entrepreneur by decision. She currently sits as the CEO of Rullion Capacity Builders Foundation – a social enterprise that seeks to empower women with skills to start profitable businesses right from home.
The vision for her is to use the vehicle of skill acquisition to ameliorate women’s capacity and enhance their chances for economic enrichment.
Why did you start a women empowerment center?
I started Rullion Capacity in 2014 – a women empowerment center from a personal encounter and insight into the need for women to be skilled and have the capacity to generate income as stay at home moms.
This center was born at a time when I also needed to be empowered – I had just had my third baby and the few job interviews I attended didn’t expressly say, but once they learned I was married and had children, the odds tilted away from me.
Later, I realized that in an employers’ eyes, a married woman with children meant more off days, more sick leaves, the bottom line, fewer work hours. Without getting any offers, I decided that rather than just sit at home idle, I would learn a skill. I settled for small chops and cocktails.
The program was very affordable as it was subsidized by the church and I was amazed at the number of women who attended the skill empowerment. With the knowledge, I garnered from working in the advertising industry before being a stay at home mum, in no time I was selling my finger foods at events and was making some income even though I was working from home.
Soon, I discovered that a lot of the other women who attended that program with me were not grounded in basic business skills and were waiting to get funds to rent a space before they start a business. Instantly, I knew this was an error, and thought about how I could change this.
I gathered a group of friends and with further discussions, we saw there was a need to change the mindset of so many women who think being a stay at home moms meant being without avenues to generate income.
We launched a skill acquisition program laced with business skills in financial literacy, customer service, brand management, legal aspects of business, marketing and sales.
Our first program was a flop as we were still quite unknown but we persisted and created more awareness. Using social media as a very strong marketing tool, we had more attendees.
So far, we have trained over 400 women who have largely gone on to start their small businesses and some who do not have the financial capacity to start, are currently employed until they can.
There are quite a number of women empowerment organizations, what makes yours stand out?
In striving for excellence in a sector where there are so many mushroom operators, in 2016, we became an accredited vocational center for Trade Test 1, 2 and 3 and NABTEB (National Business and Technical Examinations Board) exams which further qualifies our trainees to work anywhere in the world.
Last year, we observed that a critical challenge our trainees had was having access to capital to purchase equipment. This led us to seek and partner with MISS – Micro Investment Support Services (an equipment leasing company led by Mrs. Elizabeth Ehigiamusoe).
With this, our trainees can purchase equipment on loan of up to N500,000 over a tenor of 12 months with a very affordable interest rate.
Furthermore, we observed that though our students now had the equipment and technical know-how for business and already had products, a bigger challenge was getting ready buyers. The answer to this was The Women’s Entrepreneurship Fair (WEF) with the vision to connect our women to customers, investors and the government.
We had 2 editions last year with women-focused brands such as Access Bank Women banking, Molfix Diapers, Guardian Life, Nobel Carpet and rugs (Lush Hair), Cake World, Orijin Zero, Bella Naija, Fero Mobile, De-united Foods Limited, Cadbury, United Capital Limited, LSETF, among others throwing their weight behind the massively successful event.
A lot of our women are still reaping the dividends of those shopping exhibitions and we are looking forward to having more in the near future
What Challenges have you encountered on this journey?
Remember I mentioned I was thrown into this journey not of my own will but because of circumstances around me at the time. So it has not been a smooth journey but I’ve been determined as I currently enjoy what I do. Below are some challenges I faced:
1. Wrong Structure: We are a registered social enterprise with the CAC but without any formal educational background in the team, we struggled with the structure a bit before we found our footing.
Working with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity’s trade test modules and syllabus likewise NABTEB’s has helped us put a proper structure in place
2. Getting skilled workers: This was difficult for the courses we offer at Rullion but we had to overcome. Courses such as Cosmetology ( hairdressing, nail fixing, makeup and gele tying, Fashion design and accessories, catering and hotel works, and so forth) but as trainers, we have embraced the importance of training and re-training.
Some people are of the opinion that if you train your staff, they’ll leave you and become competition. But what if you don’t train them and they stay? It comes back to hurt your brand and what you aim to achieve. Besides, collaboration is a new competition.
We can’t do all the work, so if our ex-staff leaves and sets up hers, that’s great as we then have a branch in that other location where we can refer willing trainees
3. InadequateFunding: We initially set out to offer our training programs at no fee at all but without a fund base, we couldn’t keep up with the standards we seek to deliver.
Therefore, we asked our trainees to pay a small fee which we use to cover the overheads of running our programs but even with that we still require help to bolster the training programs we deliver and further enrich our capacity as learning is quite dynamic.
We also offer small short-term loans to the women we train. We want to include an internship program to our curriculum which we believe will further help deepen the knowledge of our students. A deterrent for an internship is funding – employers are willing to take on interns but are not willing and/or ready to give them an allowance to cover even their transportation.
If we could access funds, we can do this and much more
4. Online access: We are based in Lagos, Nigeria. Though we’ve held training programs at Ogun State, Edo state and Rivers state, there is still a lot of work to do. With the explosion in the use of technology, it’s necessary and import to now migrate some of our training programs to online learning platforms and offer a Blended Learning curriculum.
If we can do this, we will have more reach. Funds have been the deterrent to properly execute this as we have inquiries from all over Nigeria which we cannot cover.
5. Partnerships: If only a lot of us embraced collaboration rather than competition, we can all do the work better and faster.
We have approached a number of organizations who are doing similar work in the women empowerment space to partner with us especially outside Lagos state so that more women are economically empowered and in the process, mitigate and eventually eradicate poverty but the response has not been so encouraging as financial gratification is a key factor for a lot of them.
Do you think Government involvement can help with the challenges?
Yes, of course. There is almost no business that does not depend on infrastructure from the government – power, water, roads, etc.
At the moment, there is no room for growth in the micro business space because the cost of setting up even such a business is so high. You consider things like accommodation (there’s no regulation – the landlords are the alpha and omega and decide whatever rent they want), power.
You have to purchase your own power generating plant because you can’t rely on government’s supply, transporting yourself from one location to the other to offer service to customers eventually becomes a chore with bad roads and many man-hours lost due to traffic gridlock!
If all the government can provide for us is an enabling work environment with a stable economy, I tell you, we aren’t a lazy bunch – we will really go far.
Do you think there’s room for more women empowerment centers?
Of course! It is not enough! Women are quite pivotal to the transformation of any nation’s economy- history has a lot to say about this. We at Rullion have carved a niche for ourselves by targeting women, who have a minimum education of O’Levels, are somewhat computer literate and can communicate in Basic English.
What about illiterate women who only speak pidgin or just their local dialect? How about younger girls in secondary school who need to embrace the culture of entrepreneurship even before they go on to higher institutions to study?
The jobs they target are all the top corporations like Dangote, Nestle, OandO which were all started by entrepreneurs.
We also have to think about those outside Lagos and in other states of the Federation. So, the answer is Yes! We need a lot more women empowerment centers.
The challenge I see however is how to ensure the quality of what is taught at these centers. Because we wanted a certain standard, we had to push ourselves to put in some structure and we keep updating that as we go along.
A lot of these centers have just one facilitator teaching 100 people per time and then you wonder what exactly the people are learning because they don’t go further to carry out any practical sessions and the next thing is a graphic designer/printer issues them certificates.
There needs to be a body that ensures that centers comply with a certain minimum standard.
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For those who don’t have children, the holidays are full of endless shopping, traveling, entertaining, eating and lots of family time. But for those who have children, it’s an entirely different story.
Holidaying with children can sometimes be quite the adventure – and not in a fun way! From soiled diapers to crying toddlers, the list goes on.
However, is it possible for parents to enjoy their holidays without being broken by their children? As a mom, here are some lessons I learned that have helped me survive the holidays.
1. Enjoy every time you get with your little ones
I learned to accept the fact that the holiday period is a time to embrace my superpowers and bond with my child. It was not a gruesome punishment or some curse bent on making me unproductive. It was time to play catch up, to try new things together, to experiment and get to know him better.
Because I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice, I also worked hard on preparing myself for when school was out. Though I didn’t have much time off, I made sure that with what little I had, I made the time to spend it with my children.
2. Do things with them
It’s very easy to simply buy your children toys to entertain themselves or let them watch TV. I learned from my son that this does not always work. Despite eagerly opening his presents, he often became quickly disinterested especially when he had no one to play with.
Even with a few hours of TV, he usually had a lot of free room for mischief or adventure.
I realized that I need to capitalize on this time to ensure he wasn’t up to any mischief. My first moves were to get in touch with his creativity and engage him in things that we could do together.
From messy activities such as decorating cupcakes to playing peek-a-boo, my son was happy and I relaxed knowing he was doing good.
3. Remind them to be nice
I have always wanted a super courteous child who is the first to greet all the elderly people that visited form church or his great- grandma and grandpa. But when my son started growing up, I was in for a rude shock. He was awfully rude to them and often had no regard for his elders.
This made me livid at my son for letting me down after all the talks we had regarding manners. I realized that I needed to step-up my game through continuous reinforcement of positive behavior.
I could have taken my anger out on my son but I realized he was only a child who just needed the right direction.
4. Plan ahead of trips
During one particular event, we went out to have lunch. On that day, my son decided to reject every single thing that was offered to him. The only thing he wanted was jollof rice which wasn’t on the menu. He threw a fit over this.
Though embarrassing, this experience taught me a great lesson in planning. For large celebrations or when going, I try as much as possible to bring in my son’s favorites. This can include food or even cutlery. My obligation was to ensure my child had a great experience.
5. Maintain routines
When going on holidays, everyone usually wants to throw out their usual schedules and simply relax and be lazy. With kids, they tend to take advantage of this period and push their bedtimes. For parents, this becomes quite the difficulty.
It is important that we maintain good habits and practice our routines with the children. Sleep is quite essential in ensuring the whole family are relaxed and enjoy the holiday. Therefore, make sure that you maintain the different routines and schedules that are part of your family culture.
With these few tricks, you can keep your children tuned in for fun while you also enjoy your holiday. Some say its pure magic, I say its the art of minding children through the holidays.
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Kachi Tila Adesina is an example of Motherland Mogul goals! After growing up in Nigeria, Kachi moved to the UK in 2014 to work as a corporate lawyer. In March 2017, she was admitted as a solicitor of England and Wales.
Beyond her career, Kachi enjoys a wide range of hobbies that have led her towards starting her blog – Kachee Tee. KacheeTee.com is a different kind of lifestyle blog that features everything that women would go through. From relationships, travel, career, beauty, fashion, blogging, food and most recently parenting – this blog has a little bit for everyone.
Through her blog, Kachi hopes to inspire her readers to learn to live intentionally and have fun. In this interview, she gives us a glimpse of her blogging journey and her great plans for the future.
Tell us about your blog – KacheeTee
I started KacheeTee.com with zero ideas of what I was getting into. My need to get an outlet to write was constantly consuming my thoughts. So, I decided to give it a go and two years later, I am still blogging!
Before starting, I was oblivious to how big the blogging industry was. This was good because not knowing the task ahead kept me from quitting earlier on. Over the years, the blog has evolved from just sharing my own stories. I now also share other people’s experiences, journeys, and stories.
Due to my curiosity about a lot of things, my blog has more of a holistic lifestyle blog. It was important to me to create the kind of blog I’d love to read which is easy to read and I can relax while reading.
What was it like publishing your first post?
I published my first blog post on Facebook for my friends to read. Though I was nervous and almost regretted my decision to ‘come out of my shell’, my friends were very receptive. Many of them subscribed to the blog and sent messages of how they were looking forward to the next post. At this point, I couldn’t quit.
It’s been a learning curve and an interesting couple of years. Now, my posts are much different to the initial ones. But, what’s remained consistent is the amount of passion and effort poured into every single post.
What values have been critical to your personal and career growth?
My top three values are – Excellence, Integrity, and Christian faith. I have a genuine desire to truly excel at most things to the best of my ability and this constantly pushes me.
To me, excellence also ties in with impact. I am very keen to inspire, educate and add value in some way. So often, in my career and personal life, I ask “what’s to be gained from this?“. This has guided everything that I do from my career to even on my blog.
I strongly believe, where there’s value, there’s often growth. In all this, I’m conscious of acting with integrity and authenticity – making sure I stay true to who I am and don’t lose my voice. Finally, my Christian faith and beliefs guide me all the way and I believe is very instrumental in my growth.
Launching my blog is definitely one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. But it’s had a lot impact on my life. It’s given me confidence and made me believe in myself a lot more. I’ve also met many amazing people!
But interestingly, I’ve also developed a creative mindset I didn’t think I had. Even when I’m tired, my mind is always spinning all these creative new ideas for the blog.
Overall, the blog has brought a lot of fulfillment in my life. During my 28th birthday – the first after I launched my blog – I received many overwhelming messages from people saying how much I’d inspired them through my blog. This was a great sign of how fulfilling my blog is.
You’re a very busy Motherland Mogul. How do you manage it all?
Two words – balance and support. As an adult, it is important to know how to balance the many things that demand your attention.
In everything you do, it’s important to strike a fair balance and identify what are the current priorities. There have been times when my priority was work or family, and my blog had to take a back seat- and that’s okay! The most important thing is to become organized and resourceful.
It’s also instrumental to have the right kind of support. My husband knows I enjoy being a lawyer and a blogger, therefore, being able to do these things allows me to be a great wife and mother. He’s happy to give his 100 percent support when necessary. I’m also very open to other kinds of support – from outsourcing the house chores to volunteers who edit blog posts.
What kind of partnerships and environments are necessary for bloggers to thrive?
Blogging is hard work! Many bloggers put in time, effort and money to produce great content. However, without engagement from their audience, fellow bloggers, and brands, it becomes tough.
Therefore, support is very important for the growth of a blog. Support can be engaging with the content to partnering with fellow bloggers to get advice and even create content. Though sometimes it may be uncommon for lifestyle bloggers to collaborate with others, it’s important as it helps reach new audiences.
Does living in the diaspora influence your style of blogging in any way?
Living in the UK does influence my style of blogging in a couple of ways relating to content and standards. Knowing that my blog is being read by a diverse set of people, I especially pay attention to ensure my content is relatable, and the language is not overly limited to Nigerian/ African lingua.
This does not mean that I refrain from telling our stories or experiences. On the contrary, living here propels me to tell more of our stories and push for greater representation and diversity in blogging.
Finally, being in the UK exposes me to a higher standard of professionalism and expectations. I’m constantly challenging myself to write better and produce a blog that I can introduce to anyone, anywhere.
What are your goals for the future?
Essentially my goal is to build a blog and platform that is so much bigger than just ‘Kachi’. I plan to do this through increasing readership across Nigeria and wider Africa – as well as Africans in the diaspora.
However, knowing that there is a lot of content out there sometimes scares me. But I’ve realized it’s not just about me. I’m ready to build a team to help me take this blog to the next level in terms of quality and quantity of content. I’d also love to create a network where bloggers can share knowledge and exchange ideas through seminars, workshops, events or even virtually via podcasts.
Finally, I’d love to partner with more brands, companies, and organizations to reach my target audience and add value. From parenting to travel, fashion, lifestyle, and careers – there’s so much opportunity for such mutually benefiting partnerships.
What three movies do you think should definitely have sequels?
Me Before You. I cried so much watching this movie, and perhaps a sequel where I get to laugh a lot might be good. There’s a book sequel now (haven’t read it yet though), so we just might get a movie sequel
Black Panther. I absolutely enjoyed the movie and I think a sequel that further raises the issue of diversity and representation is very much welcome! Rumor has it, there’d be a sequel and I hope we see more of Shuri – loved her.
Pretty Woman. I’m not sure what the plot of the sequel could be, but I’d pay to watch it. Such a classic.
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I am a wife and mum to three amazing children, a girl who just turned six and a set of twins who are 3 years 6 months. Beyond that, I am also a marketer for a multinational company. My job involves a lot of travel that takes me away from my family a lot of times.
About two years ago, I accepted a work assignment that moved us to another country, away from our extended family and support structure. While I love my family and I am fully cognizant of the fact that I am the only mother my children have, the truth is, I also love my career!
Many women in my position struggle trying to balance their love for these two things. In this article, you’ll find some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years as a working mum.
Be kind to yourself
As mothers, we often have the tendency to judge ourselves based on what our children can or cannot do. I remember, when my twins were younger, I once overheard a mother speaking of how her 10-month-old baby was already potty trained and slept throughout the night.
At the time, my twins who were near twice that age were not potty trained and barely slept throughout a whole night. For a moment, I felt that I was not doing something right – maybe if I spent more time with them it would be different.
Then it occurred to me that I am not in competition with anyone and neither are my children. With patience and at their own pace, my kids would soon figure out how to use the potty and sleep through the night. Most importantly, I needed to be kind to myself.
Use the right words
Having often heard words such as “full-time mom” being, I have always wondered what it really meant. Did it make me a “part-time mom” because I was away working for eight hours?
The truth is, despite being a mum who goes to work, I am also still a full-time mother to my children. Yes, I don’t spend the majority of my days with them, however, I still fully embrace my full-time motherhood responsibilities just as I do in my career.
Block the naysayers
My first business trip was when my twins were four months old. Luckily enough for me, my mother came and looked after my twins for the four nights I was away. However, when I got back, one not so gentle colleague cornered me and asked me what kind of mother I was to go away and leave such young kids.
This experience and many others taught me early on to learn to block such people. I had a conscious choice to be both a mother and to continue work. Therefore, I knew what I was doing and wouldn’t let others judge me for my choices.
It’s okay to ask for help
People and society, in general, will always have opinions of what you “should” do and should not do when it comes to your children. You should do X by yourself when it comes to your children you should do Y and not the nanny.
There was a time when I would do everything that needed to be done for my children by myself. Not only was this not sustainable, but I soon realized that I was no superwoman and had to learn to ask for help and accept it when it was offered.
Don’t give in to pressures that say you have to do everything – it’s okay to ask for help.
Build a network with other working moms
Sometimes, it’s easy to think that you are the only going through what you are going through. Personally, talking with other working moms helped me realize that I was not the only one going through stuff.
Getting together and sharing what we were going through as working mothers truly helped. We were able to share notes on how we were handling certain situations.
Inspired by this, I created the Mum’s in Stilettos community where through social media and the blog, working mum’s come together to share their lessons. Such platforms encourage you that you are not alone and that you can manage being a working mother successfully.
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.
When you fall pregnant at a young age, many people still believe you can’t be a good mother or have a good career. When Olivia Matshabane got her son at the age of 21, she knew she had to do her best in order to create the best life for both of them.
At 25 years old, Olivia is one of the youngest black female South Africans to be completing a Ph.D. She started with an undergraduate degree and further pursued a Master’s program in psychology.
Despite not being a high achiever in high school, she was able to graduate with honors for her undergraduate and a distinction for her Master’s.
But how did she manage to perform well under the pressure of adjusting to motherhood? Olivia highlights her journey to success below.
The first step to becoming successful is developing a dream. Think big, carefully and critically. Think about what kind of life you would like to have and what would allow you to get there.
Everybody should be visualizing their future lives and use that vision as a basis for your dream. Dreams are powerful things. The excitement of the possibility of reaching that dream keeps us motivated and encouraged to keep striving for it!
2. Write down your dreams
I believe that writing down your dreams makes them plans. When I was 18, I wrote a 10-year plan that included my education goals, getting a child, being with a stable partner and finally living in New York.
Though some things shifted mildly, I was able to achieve all my goals. Often, I still look at this piece of paper to encourage and promise myself to keep going.
Writing down dreams has worked for me and can work for many young women. Even though you are not comfortable to share your dreams, it is important to write them down. This helps you remember your dreams and not let go of them.
However, you should be open to changes and shifts in your plan. And that’s okay. Just try to make sure that you then update your plan accordingly.
3. Make a plan
Once you know what your dream is, it’s important to decide on the specifics. What do you need in order to get there? Is it training, a mentor, a coach, or a business partner?
Whatever you need, you should develop a plan on how you are going to get it. The better and more detailed your plan is, the better your chances of not getting confused during the process.
To get a detailed plan, you need to research! Make sure you research before settling on anything. For example, if you plan to study something in university, research costs, best institutions, available funding and important dates. All information is key!
4. Get a support system
Getting a support system is important. Though it may not be easy to ask for help, when you are a young mom it is important to establish networks that you can turn to for help when you need it.
My support system allowed me to study late on campus, work on weekends and later travel for work. I had the comfort of having people to take care of my son.
So build that support system! Even if it is a group of young mothers just like yourself who help one another out with babysitting when needed. If there isn’t one around you, initiate it! It will make the process a lot easier.
5. Put in the work
Just because you are a young mother and have a lot on your plate does not mean that you should be lazy. Remember you are working towards, YOUR dream and so you need to put in the hard work!
When you have deadlines, make sure that you set sufficient time aside, in order to meet those deadlines. You shouldn’t give people excuses simply because you are a young mother.
6. Don’t easily accept NO for an answer
When you send in applications for things and know you are qualified, do not easily accept no. Make an effort to find out why. Sometimes there is a glitch in the system or your application was not received or looked at for some reason.
This actually happened to me during my undergraduate application. I knew getting rejected would derail my plans and so I inquired until I found out I was actually accepted.
Also, there may be something you did incorrectly in your application. Adopt the mentality that feedback is critical, as it will always help you better yourself for your next application.
7. Don’t feed into your insecurities
You may feel overwhelmed by the idea of becoming a young mother and still pursuing your dreams. It’s certainly not easy! You may have moments where you doubt your skills, but hang tight and don’t feed into those insecurities.
The thoughts you feed yourself have enormous power, so feed yourself positive thoughts. Always try your best to be in positive and motiving spaces and try to celebrate the little successes.
8. Be your child’s role model
Think of the kind of person you would like your child to be and then model that person! Remember children learn best from what they see modelled.
If your child sees you working late at night, they can see what it means to be a hard worker. If your child experiences love from you as a parent, they will learn what it means to love.
9. Take time out
Proper rest is important. Firstly, take time out of your work to focus on spending quality time with your child. This could be a few hours or days to focus on your child only.
Secondly, time spent alone is equally important as you need to re-energize, remind yourself of your goals and reflect and plan on your journey.
Thirdly, take time with family members and/or friends. A good laugh with your loved ones will remind you of the beauty of life. Young hard working mothers need to remember to take time to be genuinely present and happy.
10. Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it!
Most people tend to focus on the hypothetical negative effects of becoming a young mother. But you can have a really positive outcome in your career and in your relationship with your child.
Believe in what you tell yourself. If you tell yourself that you are doomed and will not be successful, then sadly that’s what you may be.
However, if you tell yourself that you will use your experience of becoming a young mother as a source of inspiration for you to draw on to continue pursuing your dreams, then believe that you CAN DO IT!
Being a woman is one of the greatest privileges I feel I have been given in this life. We are all aware of the history of oppression that women have suffered in the past and the many women who fought off the oppressors and paved the way for us.
Now we delight in the possibilities and opportunities presented to us, to carve out our own destinies. I once heard someone say, “Some of us (women) have become the men we dreamt of marrying”. That is certainly an ode to all you badass females kicking down doors and handling your business. That is not to say, we don’t need our wonderful men.
Should my time upon this earth be up very soon, I will forever be proud of starting Demur and hope to be counted amongst those badass women who have kicked down doors and shaped history. I know I have started something that will forever live on.
Along with that, one other thing that I know I want to leave on this earth when my time is up, are some little Noreen’s. Some beautiful children who I can help mould into pleasant human beings who will also go on to make a significant contribution to the world during their time here. I also want to be able to chase them around whilst I’m still young and fit.
Whilst I am working hard to build an empire and ensure I have all my ducks in a row, the little Noreen’s project is not an urgent one, but it’s one that’s on the agenda. Never mind the fact that I’m fast approaching 30 and should I not reproduce soon, society will be looking at me with cause for concern as if I am some strange creature. The body clock theorists do not help much either.
I am surrounded by friends and family members who have given birth in the last 2 years. Not only have I had the joy of watching these beautiful children grow, I am also a godmother to three of these children. I can certainly tell being a mother is not an easy job at all from watching these mothers raise their kids.
Being a mother to a young child is very demanding. There are many sacrifices you have to make including for some women, putting their careers on hold. If you are in employment you get your maternity leave and various allowances but when you are going at it alone, can you afford to take a year or so out of your own business?
I have a friend who has a business that has just taken off and there are opportunities lined up that will only take her business higher. However, those opportunities require her full attention to go forward and now her partner is asking for kids. She asked me, “Can you choose between having kids and taking your business forward?”
You can’t chase two rabbits at the same time that’s for sure.
The choice to take a career break and have kids or try and juggle both is a personal one. No one can choose your destiny for you, not even your partner. For me personally, I feel, if I was to have a baby in the next year or two, one is going to have to suffer. It’s either I will not be able to give my child the full attention she deserves (I really really really want a girl first by the way) or I will not be able to fully commit myself to Demur. So, I am seated here asking myself the same question as my friend, what do I want more? To some people that is an absurd question to even ponder about.
You cannot compare a baby to a business. Although to a certain extent it often feels like I have a baby already. As much as I can delegate things to other people much like leaving your baby at the babysitters, you still must make sure that the baby is looked after. You must protect your baby, you must protect the integrity of your business. I cannot go on holiday yet without worrying or checking in on Demur, just like a Mother who has left her child at home.
So, can my friend say to her partner, “Baby I want a child but you are going to have to wait until I finish building my business,” When will that be though? I can certainly understand why some women chose not to have children at all. Oprah once said she chose not to have children because she knew it would get in the way and well look at the incredible empire she has built. There is no telling whether she would have had the same level of success had she chosen to have kids.
You can have your cake and eat it too
On the other hand, there are women who show us that you can have it all. Beyoncé had her first child when she had already created a wonderful legacy and went back to business and there is no doubt she will get right back to business after the twins.
I once read a quote by Shonda Rhimes, where she said: “Motherhood is not about shrinking down, it’s about showing your kids how to be a powerful woman.” For Shonda Rhimes that means juggling being a mother and running her Shondaland empire. How do you balance the priorities of having a child and building an empire? Is it selfish to want to build something first and delay starting a family? Success is a long winding road, what if it takes you 10,20,30 years to get to the level of success you want, before having kids?
I’m often asked, “Why don’t you want to have children now?” and my honest answer is, “I am building privileges for my children so that when they are born they will want for nothing.” With what I am building, I hope when I have my kids I can devote all my time to them. I hope to have built Demur to a level where it can run without me and I can afford to take a maternity leave without any financial constraints. I hope to be able to attend as many sports days as possible, stay at home with my children for sick days, cook their favourite meals and sit there and listen to their long-winded storytelling. These are the joys of being a mother I want to fully commit myself to and enjoy fully.
On the other hand, I also get asked, “Why do you want to have children?” I want children because I want someone to carry on my legacy when I’m gone, although I must admit childbirth does not look like fun. The thing is I know I can have it all but perhaps not all at once. It’s more of a question of what do I want more and when do I want it? Can I afford to put my dreams on hold for a year or two to start a family? Is it wrong to think of children as a hindrance to my dreams?
Any time you see a woman who tells you that her main job is to take care of her children 24/7, know that you just met a stay-at-home mom. The definition for this term is someone who stays at home all day to raise her children and manage her household, while her spouse gracefully assumes the position of a provider.
This term has become a cliché in some countries —thousands of women proudly wear this badge in a show of their sacrificial parenthood. In many societies outside Nigeria, stay-at-home moms are often seen as good models of motherhood because it is not everyday you meet a woman so selfless and willing to let go of her financial independence. But the question remains; what does a stay-at-home mom do all day? Is cleaning and doing laundry a daily routine or is she watching ‘Zee World’ or ‘Telemundo’?
In this part of the world, there is something so ordinary and basic about being a stay-at-home mom. Out of personal experience and data check, most stay-at-home moms in Nigeria take on this role out of frustration of not getting a job after childbirth or lack of zeal to further pursue career goals. It is, sometimes, very easy to give up trying but the consequence of this decision is a grave one.
If by staying at home all day and writing occasionally qualify for being a stay-at-home mom then, I label myself a reluctant one. The state of not being able to be financially independent is one of the lowest that I found myself in. Nigeria happens to be a peculiar country where the depth of one’s pocket determines who the boss is.
These days, it is not safe to solely depend on one’s spouse for everything —financial independence is a must for every woman regardless of marital status. Nigeria is a patriarchal space, where being a woman is enough trouble, talk less being a jobless mum.
Loss of who I am
There are three things that I lost in the period of being a stay-at-home mom. I lost myself, my voice and my bravado. As someone who has previously worked in several highly structured organizations, full time motherhood threw me off balance. Day after day, tiny pieces of my self-confidence began to ebb away as I helplessly watched other women excel in their careers be it as entrepreneurs or career women. Nothing robs us of our joy like the helplessness of not being able to determine one’s fate.
I would feel inferior every time I heard the success stories of my colleagues. I began to look for excuses to stay indoors and revel in self-pity. Before I know it, I became a recluse instead of the strong, extrovert and go-getter I used to be.
Being a full time mother opens a door of vulnerability; it reduces us to helpless creatures. I had a rude awakening of this in my second year of marriage when an in-law came around and subtly hinted at my ‘jobless condition’. He constantly tore at any suggestion I made during our family discussions. To him, I was just “an entity whose main job was to breastfeed a child”, as he put it then.
The mere fact that I wasn’t bringing in any income was enough reason to shut me up. To him, I didn’t exist, likewise my thoughts, in his mind, I was just a human with mammary glands and a womb to frequently push out babies.
One day, I decided that I had had enough, I began to outline ways to get out of this pathetic state.
Have a time line
It sure doesn’t matter what made me a stay-at-home mom, what is important is the time line for my exit.
A frustrated stay-at-home mom, like me, definitely needed a detailed plan on how to put an end to the cycle of helplessness. Questions like these should be included in your time line:
When do I pull the plug?
How do I integrate myself into the chosen career or business?
What are my new strengths?
These questions will best guide you on the next step to take when considering an exit.
Never stop learning
Don’t ever be deluded into thinking that motherhood takes all your time and energy. There are millions of women who are beautifully juggling child rearing with careers; so even while you are stuck being a stay-at-home mom, compel yourself to take lots and lots of self-development courses.
Nothing stops an online course or even a distance learning course. These courses will one day help to advance your career. I must confess that it is hard to get back into a career or a business after a hiatus, but it is doable. Since I decided to get back to the corporate world, I have constantly learnt how not to take NO for an answer —I don’t get fazed by the number of rejections, I just keep on pushing.
Keep on dreaming
This is one thing that kept me sane in my five year stay-at-home mom experience. I never for once stopped dreaming about who I would be in my chosen career. This vision kept me awake at night and gave me a clear perspective on how to attain my career goal.
Never allow anything or anyone to rob you the power of dreaming big. I once read online about how children of career women excel in life compared to children raised by stay-at-home moms. Children need to see their mothers in places of strength and independence and let’s be honest, being a stay-at-home mom will never create that reality.
Ever heard of “Mumpreneur”? This term captures the essence of being a mum and entrepreneur. At the forefront of inspiring Mumpreneurs in Kenya is Supamamas, founded by Christine Khasinah-Odero.
At first glance, Supamamas is a marketing and events company but when you look further, you find a company that inspires mums. Through events and their website, Supamamas encourages mums to remain in business by imparting the skills needed to thrive.
An award winning entrepreneur, Christine created this platform specifically for mums to let women know that they can continue to move towards their dreams even as mothers. If you’re looking to be a flawless Mumpreneur, this one is for you!
What makes a woman a Supamama?
What makes a woman a Supamama is living your life with intent. To live out the best version of you as a human, as a woman, as a mum and as a professional, whether in business or employed.
It is also about striving to be the best version of you. Just because you have become a mum, doesn’t mean that you cannot live out your purpose or dreams.
Being a Supamama is about giving your family, your children and society the best of you but not forgetting to invest in yourself. A Supamama continuously learns and strives to achieve her goals.
She is also that mum who accepts that she cannot be a super woman. She knows that it’s okay to ask for help and accept help.
Tell us, how do you inspire mums in business?
When it comes to mums in business, there are specific events we put together that provide an opportunity for Mumpreneurs to come and learn from notable speakers who have been there and are thriving.
Our speakers share their personal journeys from which mums are able to learn from. Our invited guests also share practical business tips gained from their experience running businesses.
At Supamamas, we also inspire mums in business by sharing their journey on our website. This gives them an opportunity to share how far they have come, while at the same time giving their businesses visibility and connecting them to possible customers.
What do young mothers get wrong when it comes to raising children?
Helicopter parenting: This means hovering over our kids and being there at their beck and call. We want our kids to have it easy and not fall in any way. So, instead of letting them experience adversity, we clear the path. We remove obstacles to make their life easy, forgetting adversity is a part of life. Only by facing it can our children build life-coping skills they’ll need down the road. So while it seems like we’re doing them a favour, we’re really stunting their growth. We’re putting short-term pay-offs over long-term well-being.
Compensating for what they didn’t have as children: Some parents provide over and above the basic needs of their children. Whenever the child asks for something, they give in, literally to everything. This way the kids never learn the value of delayed gratification and not getting everything now.
Not spending enough quality time with their children: This is because our lives have become so busy. We either spend many hours working or when at home, get easily distracted by other things. Mums need to make a conscious effort to be present when with their children. It’s best to realize that it’s not the quantity of time we spend with them but the quality.
What makes Supamamas stand out from other marketing and events companies?
What makes Supamamas different as a company is that we have created a platform that provides an opportunity for companies to connect specifically with mums. Providing an opportunity for companies and brands to engage and have meaningful conversations with their customers or potential customers.
Our events are also different in that they are conversational, experiential and interactive. This provides an opportunity for brands to go beyond selling and marketing but also to receive feedback and meaningfully engage.
Our events are personal and intimate. Mums who attend them feel special because they can be heard and express themselves. It’s like being part of a big family of mums where we all have a common goal to be the best we can be. The warmth that mums experience at events organized by Supamamas is exceptional.
Beyond business we also are keen on mentorship and community service and have organized numerous initiatives mobilizing mums and corporates to give back. One of our notable CSR was a red carpet event for cancer survivors.
In 2013, you were a finalist in the “Most Influential Women in Business in Africa SME” category in South Africa’s CEO Magazine. In 2015, you were Country Winner 2015, what do you think changed at Supamamas to cause this win?
It was an honour being selected as one of the Country Winner 2015, CEO Magazine Africa’s most influential Women in Business.
I believe what played a big part is staying consistent and continuously learning. I’m always looking for what I can do to improve and grow the events, as well as grow our online following and engagement.
As an entrepreneur you need to continuously improve, knowing that there is always room to do better.
What four skills do Mumpreneurs need to master to avoid burning out?
Make your well-being a priority: Setting up a business and growing it is tough. It can really take a toll on you, not only physically but mentally. Mumpreneurs need to make a conscious effort to take care of themselves to push through and prevent burnout. That means eating well, exercising and getting adequate sleep.
Nurture friendships and create a support system: For instance, your support system can be with other entrepreneurs. With them, you can share your experiences, frustrations and celebrate the little gains. Being around like-minded people helps to ease the pressure and gives you a sounding board and room to exhale.
Creating focus and having a plan: This gives you an idea of what you want to achieve without running around in circles. It prevents you being always busy but never effective. Allocate time to what needs to be done. When need be schedule a break or mini vacation to step away, reflect and come back refreshed.
Delegating: This is a skill that Mumpreneurs struggle with. They are so much attached to the business they they find it hard to let go and tend to micromanage. In the formative years of the business, Mumpreneurs need to create a mental picture of growing a business that will grow beyond them . This way, you begin to accept that you will need to have a team and equip others who will complement your skills and even do better. Delegating helps ease off the work load and having an effective team is good for growth.
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One of the major gender roles set apart for women is that of the nurturer. But nurturing takes time. It keeps women away from other activities. It drains us emotionally. It makes us places nurturing above other roles. It costs money. It reduces resources available to women.
I was born into a family of 7 children and I have 3 children myself. While I am a huge supporter of family life, I believe nurturing is a huge factor of inequality between the genders. Women are raised to believe that nurturing is an exclusively for women. This is deduced from the inter dependency required during the first year or so of a child’s life. But nature does not make mistakes, it was not intended for intense inter dependency to go on forever.
In fulfilling gender roles, some women believe that everything else takes a back seat to nurturing. In my opinion this is a box that women create to limit themselves. We have an inherent gift of multitasking and delegation. Yet, a good number of us spend an inordinate amount of time planning and thinking about our roles as mothers or wives. Consider too that other women will go against their instincts to perform these roles due to societal norms, even when they are honestly not interested in being nurturers.
Nurturing is an important role for both genders. The inter dependency between a mother and child should be balanced with a father’s participation. A father is just as valuable a parent as a mother and is key to the emotional growth of a child. It’s a partnership and not a sole proprietorship! So dads, bringing in the bacon is not enough. Children also need your socialization, encouragement, advise, direction and love.
Having a support system is important for any woman who has a child. We need time to do other things for our own mental stability. Yet, many women pour in too much time on their children and into their children’s life. You don’t need to take your child everywhere. You don’t need to be a drone mum using espionage-like tactics to constantly keep an eye on your child. My children surprise me everyday with their innovative thinking when I give them space to explore and make their own choices. So mums, child rearing is not a 24 hour business. Balance it out, live your life. Be the lioness who hunts and leads with the lion, even though she has cubs.
Technology equalises the imbalance
Society can balance gender roles with technology. Women can use technology to participate more to society and not feel stifled or limited to the nurturing role. With technology, we can contribute from anywhere and work faster. Women can handle domestic roles and still have time to pursue their aspirations and dreams. For example, parents can can supervise their homes in their absence through nanny cams.
Jobs that were previously time and energy consuming can be done quicker and easily with technological innovation. Women have the choice to participate be both mothers and professionals. Education, personal development and skill acquisition are available at a click of a button. E-learning platforms allow users to interact, access premier education without from the comfort of home. I personally favour listening to audiobooks so that I can multitask.
Furthermore, technological advances in the prevention and treatment in medicine mean parents don’t have to fret so much over children’s health. This allow parents time to pursue other pursuits. A number of the restrictions and barriers have been lifted by technology. We need to come up with more strategies to equalize gender roles so that men and women can live fulfilling and significant live while still being nurturers. Technology provides us that opportunity, why not capitalize on it?