- Feeling guilty about being a working Mum?
- Torn between family commitments and work?
- Thrust into the role of breadwinner when your partner has retired or become ill?
- Non existent work life balance?
You are not alone, a fifth of women in the UK are the breadwinner, and the number is growing.
Not sure if the term breadwinner fits for you? If you’re a working woman from any background, class, heritage and culture, married or co-habiting, with or without children, and you are the main or sole income earner in your home, then I am talking to you. Surprisingly, being a female breadwinner is one of the last taboos in society.
Often juggling work, life and family in secrecy, you’ll rarely discuss or seek coping strategies for your complex role in the world.
Rhonda, a successful business woman, working in a male dominated environment, with a child under one year old sums up the challenge of being the breadwinner eloquently:
“By being a working career woman or career mum, I’m trying to get the best out of both worlds. I’m trying to be true to who I am, not to who other people want me to be or what people think people I should be. And that is difficult”
Jenny Garrett, executive coach and author of Rocking Your Role, the ‘how to’ guide to success for female breadwinners, shares 5 tips to success from her experience of coaching hundreds of female breadwinners.
1. Check Your Ego
Victoria, a 40 year old entrepreneur with one child, has a growing training company found that earning the bulk of the income was giving her an over inflated ego, she decorated her home around her husband, after all it was ‘her’ money. It’s only when the cracks started showing in her relationship that she realised her husband was resenting her behavior.
The combination of your role at work and being the breadwinner at home can become a heady cocktail intoxicating you into thinking that you are the only one who has something valid to say in your relationship. If you notice yourself thinking that your opinion is the only one matters because you’re the one holding the purse strings, it’s time to check your ego.
2. Drop the Superwoman Syndrome
Femi, an accountant, in her thirties with two boys, found that her husband was waiting for her to come home to decide what to cook for dinner. She understood that she had created this problem, always wanting to be in control and make sure things were done ‘properly’. She had to take a step back and give her husband permission to cook.
“Now the children are fed before I get home in the evening, it’s not always what I would have chosen, but they’re happy and healthy and it’s one less thing for me to worry about.”
Listen and listen carefully, it’s OK not to be able to do it all. Repeat after me, it’s OK not to be able to do it all. Now say it out loud, it’s OK not to do be able to do it all. Trust others to do it their way, you might even learn something.
3. Talk about money
“subconsciously I just don’t talk about any element of my work success. I would say I work mainly because it’s interesting, it’s never because it’s financially lucrative, it’s paid for the extension or it’s paid for the car”.
Don’t let money be the elephant in the room, talk about money with your partner. Decide who manages money, how it’s managed and how you will make financial decisions. Ensure you have two-way communication about finances, your relationship and your work.
4. Look after your spiritual, physical and mental well-being
Connie, married with grown up children, has a senior strategic role in education. She found that contracting our chores like the gardening and visiting the hairdresser were life savers for her.
“That little bit of me time restored my sanity”
You physical, mental and spiritual health are critical, investing in you now will avoid painful derailment of your work and family life later. Take time for you, it could be with dance classes, developing yourself through courses, dates with your partner or even full on retreats. My thing is meditation.
Do whatever restores balance, gives you space to breathe and let go of all the roles you play in life.
5. Ditch the Guilt
Sally, an interim manager recalls times when she was trying to work with the children climbing on top of her for attention. She has come to recognise that it is quality rather than quantity that matters.
“We’ve had really good weekends where I’ve just been able to focus on the family possibly better than if I spent more time with them feeling distracted. Yes, I think I’m finally learning that one”
If you’re feeling torn between many roles, such as: spouse, carer, mother, home-maker, career woman, guilt will drain your energy and take away from the freedom up have to enjoy your life and time with loved ones. Choose quality time over quantity of time.
Author: Jenny Garrett is a female breadwinners and leadership specialist, and motivates women to live their best life. She is the author of ‘Rocking Your Role’, she’s appeared on Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ and mentors for the Cherie Blair Foundation. Find out more about her, and her specialist programmes and one to one coaching at Reflexion Associates
Jenny has kindly offered to give away a free 30 minute One to One Rocking and Shocking Consultation via Skype, and a copy of her new book ‘Rocking Your Role’, to anyone signing up to our Monthly Update in September. Read more
Looking for more tips, guidance and insights on Navigating your Career and Children? Why not join us for a high-impact fun workshop on 9 October in Central London. Speakers from Ernst&Young, Sapphire Partners and more