You need to know to seek help.
The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “How do you deal with the pressures of pressures of work and being a new parent at the same time?” is written by Brit Morin, founder and CEO of Brit + Co.
It’s rare enough to be a female CEO, much less a female CEO who has grown a startup while birthing two children. I am currently the founder of a company (five years old) and mom to Ansel (two years old) and Austin (10 months old). All in all, I tell people I have 102 children—100 at work and two at home.
As all parents know, the logistics of having children is perhaps the trickiest feat to conquer. Now add on the logistics of running a business, and you’re playing a whole new ball game. While I’m certainly not the perfect mom nor the perfect CEO, I have learned a few tips and tricks along the way that may help other new working parents.
Seek and accept help
First things first, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that you can manage a company and your children at the same time. You need help, and a lot of it. I knew I would have to invest in a great nanny as soon as I was pregnant, and spent months interviewing to find the right one. While it’s a steep expense (that you unfortunately cannot put on the company’s dime), it puts your soul at ease to know that there is a reliable caregiver for your children every day. Having someone around to help with the logistics of your household frees up your time to spend with your children.
Imagine this situation: You are traveling for work (sans baby) while breastfeeding. You have to produce milk for your baby so it’s ready when you get home—and you need to keep it cold. It’s a logistical nightmare when you’re in back-to-back meetings all day. The situation becomes even more difficult if you need a freezer, but your hotel room only comes with a mini fridge. It’s okay to plead to the front desk person to let you store milk in their kitchen freezer. And if you are running late to catch your flight home, it’s okay to plead with the people in the airport security line that you’re just trying to get home on time to be with your baby. People are way more flexible and understanding than you’d expect.
Quality over quantity
Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I will never be able to spend as much time with my children as I want to. I envy all the stay-at-home moms out there who get to be with their kids all day, every day (though I’m sure that comes with its own downsides). I probably get about three hours a day with my kids, and I try to make that time as focused as possible. As soon as I walk in the door, I drop my bag and my phone, then fall to the floor to give my kids hugs and play with them. No matter how tired I am after a long day, I give them 100% because I know those minutes matter most.
Make time for yourself
Since 90% of my day goes to my work and my kids, the other 10% has to be used wisely. Sometimes I invest it entirely in hanging out with my husband. Sometimes I try to meet up with a girlfriend. And of course, I try to make time for myself as well. For me, that “me time” is either taking a break to do something creative like painting, baking, or photography, or exercising. I live by a national park and love going for runs through the trails. Being in nature gives me a clear space to think and ideate. Sometimes I will even hire a morning babysitter on the weekends so I have a couple of hours to do a creative project or get outside.
Let me be clear: I’m still trying to figure all of this out. And to be honest, I don’t think I ever will completely. Parenting and CEO’ing are both arts of their own kind. But if you can get comfortable with the fact that you’ll never be a perfect parent (nor a perfect executive), then you’re a step ahead of the rest in spending less time stressing and more time on the things that matter most.