As my own mother puts it, “Motherhood is more than a notion.” The demands, intensity and rewards are talked about, blogged about and dramatized in fiction. With the non-stop schedules and sometime infantile personalities, television production work can be just as challenging. Put the two together, and you may have a recipe of serious stress.
How can TV Moms balance the demands of the family they love with the career they love (or at least find themselves in)? I recently took part as a panelist in a discussion about motherhood and production hosted by the Washington, DC area Woman in Television and Film association to discuss that very question. We shared some tips to help juggle it all.
- Give up the notion of Super Mom. There is no such thing. We are all Super Moms if we are loving and attentive to the needs of our family. But this does not mean we are perfect. I once sent my daughter to daycare in two left shoes. It’s a long story. The point is, she survived and doesn’t even remember it. At the time of writing this article, I am feeling pretty good about my children’s development and my career development. Just don’t look in my car – it’s disgustingly dirty. And it’s not because of me that our floors are fit to eat off of. Thank God for Daddy!
- Join a TV Mom’s support group or start your own. An editor friend and I decided to have TV Moms play date. We invite other mothers in the industry to bring their kids, hand-me-downs and resumes. It’s fun and rejuvenating. Plus I may have just gotten a gig because of one. I also started a Goal Group with some Super Mom friends of mine. We get together once a week, sometime via telephone, to set goals and hold each other accountable. That’s how I finally got this blog site off the ground!
- Get a mentor. No matter how far along you are in your career, there is always someone who has had more experience. Perhaps it is in production or perhaps it is in being a working mom. Perhaps it is in an area of production that you’ve never explored. It doesn’t matter if they are younger or older, man or woman. It is just nice to have a “go to” person who can help you navigate your career. My mentor is a single mom and an industry heavy-hitter. She has given me helpful advice over the years and priceless job recommendations that have resulted in gigs.
- Research family friendly companies. If you are working in a situation that is not compatible with your family life, research other options. It may take awhile but it is possible to change your job environment.
- Craft a support system. I am lucky to leave in my hometown with a number of family and friends that I can call on if I have to work late or travel. If you can afford in-home help, consider getting a nanny while the children are young. As the saying goes, “what all working women need is a wife.”
- Search out flexible opportunities. Perhaps job sharing or working from home is an option for you. If not, perhaps you can work through your lunch break Monday thought Thursday and work a half day on Fridays. For two years, I searched for a work from home situation. I didn’t give up and have been working from home for the last 6 months. This round of working from home may not last forever but I’ll keep searching for something permanent.
Don’t forget that you are not alone. All TV Mom have moments when they feel that they are not doing a good job at home or at work. The trick is to keep these moments to a minimum and not let them get you down. Every once in awhile, that guilt monster tries to jump up on me. But when I look at my children, I see that they are doing well, growing strong and enjoying life. It’s okay if we miss our swim play date this time. No one will fail to graduate high school if we put off potty training a couple of weeks until Mommy finishes shooting that news special. And it’s okay if the kids have oatmeal and broccoli for dinner once in awhile. In fact, they like it. Just keep doing the best that you can and believe it or not, your best is good enough.