Welcome to the official launch of TheOrganizedChaosMom!!

Welcome to TheOrganizedChaosMom!!!  I’ve been building content for a few weeks now and working on different designs of the website to see what works best and I am finally ready to share it with all of you in my official launch!  I’ve had the Instagram account, glassceilingbreakers, for almost 8 months now and I’ve seen it grow exponentially over the past few months and I’m so thankful to all of my followers!  I still want to focus on that account on a more daily basis, although it will be more geared towards general women empowerment and motivation.  As always, if there are any topics you have questions on or want to see more of let me know for future posts!!  I’m also on twitter now too at orgnzdchaosmom so follow there for more content from me on a personal level!  However, there is still an area near and dear to my heart that I felt like I needed to address and dive deeper into:  working moms!

First, a little bit about myself.  I got married when I was 29 years old and was gifted not only with a great husband but two amazing daughters as well, who were five and seven at the time.  Even though this was a second marriage for the both of us (I didn’t have any kids from my first marriage), there was still a learning curve we had to go through.  The girls had to get used to a new routine and step mom, and I had to get used to being a mother.  Motherhood is definitely one of those parts of life that in theory you think you know and are ready for it, but in reality you have no idea.  I struggled with a lot of different situations and was extra hard on myself because I didn’t want our family to fall into the stereotypical traps of blended families.  We tried very hard to have open communication between all the parents involved (their dad, their step mom – me, and their mom) and be a united front for the kids.  Parenting is hard enough, without throwing co-parenting into the mix.  On top of that, I now had to adjust to working full-time while having the girls during the week (our time was Monday through Thursdays).  I am an electrical engineer and had been in the automotive industry for about eight years at this point, so at least I had the whole working thing down (being in a male-dominated field, however, is a whole other story).

I was so busy making sure the girls adjustment went as seamlessly and smoothly as possible that I really didn’t have much time to analyze my own situation.  Every decision revolved around the girls and what would benefit them.  My husband was very good at making sure I was adjusting as well so overall we weren’t doing too bad.  There were so many situations that would come up and my husband and I would continue to be hard on ourselves.  But when I would talk to other moms who had kids around the same ages, I would find out that the issues we were having were normal and not necessarily due to their situation.  This was such a relief and we realized kids are so much more resilient than we gave them credit for.  I also realized that other parents were going through the same struggles, and other working moms had similar hardships to what I was going through as well.  The more I talked to people, the better I felt that we were doing the best we could and we tried to not be as tough on ourselves as we were.

For me, adjusting to working and taking care of kids wasn’t so bad, mainly because they were somewhat independent at those ages and could verbalize what they wanted and how they felt.  My husband and I tried to help each other out as much as possible, and we managed to get into a good routine.  It was definitely a challenge for me, though, to all of a sudden have to juggle motherhood and working full time.  Little did I know, it was nothing compared to the struggle of having my own child and working full time with three kids now.  The girls are now ten and eight years old and the newest addition to our family, our son, is 17 months old.  I took off five months for my maternity leave, and let me just say going back to work was one of the hardest and most emotional things I’ve had to do.  It’s been a learning curve for sure, and the learning never ends.

My main goal of starting glassceilingbreakers was to help motivate and empower other women because I know what it’s like to feel unappreciated in the workforce and have the odds stacked against me.  It took me a long time to adjust to being in a male-dominated field, I was also struggling with being the youngest (with large age gaps for years when I first started at 21) and sometimes even the only woman in an entire department (of about 40 engineers).  It took me a long time to learn the hard way how to make my way and have my voice be heard, and I’ve had a difficult time of defining what success means to me in my career and personal life.  I’ve been in the automotive industry for over ten years, and I’ve learned so much that I only hope to help other women get to where they want to be in life easier through my difficulties and lessons learned.

The same goes for TheOrganizedChaosMom, but with a more focused theme of working moms and the different struggles we go through on a daily basis to be the best at everything we do while trying to ease the Mom Guilt we inevitably go through.  Life with a career and kids and a husband while still trying to maintain some semblance of a social life can only be defined as organized chaos.  It’s completely chaotic and we usually have no less than five different things going on at once and even though we set impossibly high standards for ourselves, we always manage to get it done.  I’m also going to start “TheOrganizedChaosMom’s Hack of the Week” where every week I’ll share different ideas and anything that has helped make my life a little easier with kids and work.  The purpose here is so that we can all share the different techniques, products, or hacks that help us get through our weeks smoother and more efficiently.  So join me on this journey of motherhood while we pave the way for our careers and help motivate each other along the way!  Make sure to subscribe so you can stay up to date with all the latest that’s going on!

Instead of Mom-Shaming let’s Commend and Support them

Can we stop with the mom-shaming for a few minutes to think about the struggles mothers go through on a daily basis?  The other day I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and came across a post that was something along the lines of telling mothers that give their kids a phone (or any other electronic device) while at the grocery store are part of the problem.  What problem you ask?  The social issues of being more disconnected and the next generation not learning how to be social but rather narcissistic and turning into numb-like individuals.  I won’t get into the validity or discussion of the “social issues”, but the post in general rubbed me the wrong way.  For background, this was posted by a woman who didn’t have kids and wasn’t even married.

What bothered me the most was the instant mom-shaming and judging of a mother who was just minding her own business trying to get essential grocery shopping done.  The comments went on to further judge all mothers who turn to electronic devices as a means to keep their kids occupied.  They even went as far as to site links to articles about limiting screen time for children and the dangers/harms of allowing your children too much screen time.  Most of the negative comments were from non-mothers.  One woman was explaining that the reason mothers give their children the electronics is to avoid tantrums and melt-downs in public because of the embarrassment.  She was even gracious enough to go on to further explain that instead of turning to the easy choice of just shutting the child up to in turn allow them to have their tantrums and not worry about the embarrassment because no one is going to judge a mom for her child throwing a tantrum.  How nice of her to allow the mother this comfort, I thought.  It was pretty much at that point I had to join in the discussion (typically I avoid commenting but really, I couldn’t hold back on this topic and the judgements of these women without children of their own).

I pointed out that tantrums are often more than just screaming and crying.  Often, they include the children throwing themselves onto the floor and kicking and thrashing about.  They might even start picking stuff up and throwing them.  The level of the tantrum depends on the child.  So simply allowing a child to throw a tantrum in an uncontrolled and unfamiliar environment isn’t about embarrassment but rather about the safety of the child at that point.  So if giving a child their phone to watch videos while the mother gets done what she needs to, what’s the harm?  Further, who are you to judge her or shame her?  I’m sure the mother of that child knows way better than anyone what’s in her child’s best interest.  Other mothers also joined the conversation (even more upset than I was).  They went on to say that we can’t judge a mother based on a five minute snippet of their life we glimpse at a grocery store.  How do we know what kind of day she had?  How do we know the circumstances surrounding her life?  How do we know that because this mother occupies her child non-stop on electronic devices all day long?  But most importantly, how is it any of your business to judge her?!

The original poster went on to explain that she didn’t necessarily mean to judge but rather discuss the lasting effects of screen time and allowing children free reign on electronic devices.  To which all the mothers replied, those are two separate statements and the original statement was extremely judgmental as opposed to a generic statement to the state of society.  Even though she kept to her judgements using the age-old excuse of “Well how did our mothers do it?”  At this point, I pointed out that we can’t raise our kids the same way we were raised because times change and we must change with them if we want to keep up and more importantly keep our children competitive and not fall behind.  Even schools are incorporating electronic devices into their curriculums because that’s where technology and society in general is headed.  Every generation uses the resources available to them to help raise their children and move forward.  So I see nothing wrong with using electronic devices to both entertain and teach children when appropriate.

The underlying issue, however, is that other women had no problem undermining and criticizing other women.  This is a bigger issue of women not supporting women.  If I see another mom with an unruly child and she hands him/her a tablet or her phone, I will smile and cheer her on for avoiding an unnecessary meltdown and a bigger headache for the mom.  Mother’s go through enough self-imposed guilt and shaming without the addition of strangers and so-called friends comments and judgements.  Women and especially mothers need the support of their friends to help get through the day.  It really is true, it takes a village to raise kids.  Women tend to “suffer in silence” for so many reasons.  One of which is the judgements of society and the fear that either no one will reach out to help or they will instantly criticize you.  Mothers and women feel alone because of this.  So let’s try to be more encouraging and help build them up instead of tearing them down.  When you see a mom struggling, ask if you can help.  If a child is throwing a tantrum, don’t just stand around giving dirty looks see if you can help in any way or just keep moving and give her an encouraging look and smile.  We are all in this together, women should always stay united and mothers should stick together.  With all that being said, never let anyone make you feel less of a mother or a woman for how you choose to raise your children.  You are enough and I’m sure already working as hard as you can so keep it up and don’t listen to anyone criticizing or judging you because at the end of the day, they have no effect on you or your life.  Mommy’s, you got this!

Can we really have it all and keep our sanity?

Is it possible for women to have it all?  A career, family, friends and a social life, and still maintain some semblance of sanity?  Can we really juggle all these different hats (and for most women, even more) without dropping the ball on anything?  This question is what keeps us up at night.  Literally.  We sit and try to plan and figure everything out, but often seem to come up short.  But are we really coming up short?  Or, as I believe in most of our (women’s) case, we are just holding ourselves to impossibly high standards.  Not only that, but we set high standards for each area of our lives.  We expect to climb the corporate ladder (or excel in whatever field you’re in) and if we aren’t then we are failures.  We want our kids to be in all the extracurricular activities and sports and get awesome grades.  We want to have a girls night out with our friends and still have time to be social.  We want to pamper ourselves (theoretically for most of us) but never quite seem to find the time.  We expect ourselves to be the best in everything we do, and then tell ourselves “Well I can have it all just not at the same time.”  However, the problem isn’t with us.  It’s with society.  As women, we have more pressure to succeed than men for many reasons.  We feel like we need to prove our worth and have to make a bigger effort to get noticed.  At work, we hear the excuse “Well she has kids so she can’t put in 100%”.  Even worse is when you are seen as not being a team player, not reliable because you have to pick up and drop off kids or take personal days to take care of them, or even as a liability because your priority isn’t work.  So we end up feeling guilty and putting in more hours and push ourselves even harder to prove that our family and kids have no effect on our work and we are no different than the men.  But then we get stuck feeling guilty because we aren’t spending enough time with our kids.  Since now we’re stuck at work we might miss some of their games or not be able to make a home cooked meal every night.  The mom-guilt kids in hard and we feel like we aren’t spending enough time with our kids and not only are we missing out on their milestones and fun but also they are missing out on having their mother around full time.

The pressures of society on us to be perfect and have to prove ourselves in every aspect are not only exhausting but very unfair.  Men don’t have the same pressures.  Even if they are mediocre in their careers, they are never seen as a “failure”.  However, if women are “only supervisors” we get pressure from all sides saying things like “She could be so much better if she focused more on her career”.  So somehow we are achieving higher but looked down up lower.  This is the pit we are falling into, and the pressure to “have it all or nothing at all” doesn’t help.  The solution is easy, yet hard to actually accomplish.  We need to change our mentalities.  We need to not accept the criticism unless it’s constructive.  We need to not be so hard on ourselves.  We can have it all, and at the same time.  We just can’t expect ourselves to put 100% in every area.  And that’s ok!  We don’t need to!  The saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none” for me is my motto.  It can be taken as a negative connotation.  I, however, like to look at the positive.  I’d rather have a lot more tools in my tool belt instead of just one or two.  I can know enough about many different areas, excelling in some that I need to, to get by.  I can be good at a lot of different things without needing to be an expert.  We don’t need to be perfect in every area, just good enough that we are satisfied and getting things taken care of.

Still, most women are naturally overachievers.  I know I am, and I’m never satisfied with just sitting still or coasting.  Recently, I took a long hard look at my career.  When I got hired in, there were three other engineers in our organization.  Now, ten years later, all three of them are supervisors.  Except me.  I’m the only one who hasn’t really risen in the ranks.  At first, I was bothered by this because I don’t think I’m any less of an engineer.  I started thinking about being treated unfairly in a few positions and being held back from promotions because of almost discriminatory reasons (nothing I could prove concretely).  Was that why I wasn’t a supervisor?  Was I not enough of a hard worker?  On the other hand, I knew a lot of phenomenal engineers who have tried to interview for supervisor positions that have not gotten it.  So why not?  What’s the catch?  Well sometimes, it’s politics.  Managers like to put people into positions that are not only good engineers but also have good leadership qualities and know how to interact with upper management.  For me, however, I didn’t think that was what was stopping me.  I know my assets, and my communication skills are pretty good.  So what then?  I literally spent weeks being so hard on myself.  While I was very happy and proud of my peers, I was frustrated for myself.

Then one day, I asked myself, “Do you even want to be a supervisor?”  And the answer was unequivocally no.  I didn’t.  Further, I never really have either.  For various reasons throughout my career, I’ve never wanted to be a supervisor.  Not because I don’t believe I’m capable of it but more because I didn’t want to deal with the politics of the position and feel like I’m not tied to my job.  I knew I wanted to have a family, and while having kids it would have been tough to be a supervisor at the same time.  At least not with the way I imagined myself.  I knew that when I had kids I would want to take an extended maternity leave, which as a supervisor is near impossible due to the physical duties and job responsibilities.  Which is understandable.  Also, I knew there was a possibility I might want to work part-time while my kids are still very young (babies and toddlers).  Again, very difficult to find a part-time supervisor.  I’ve known women who have job-shared (where both are the supervisor with the same responsibilities but each are able to work part-time and share the job).  However, that’s not something that interested me.  So I knew that at least until I was done having kids, being a supervisor was not really on my radar.  So why, then, was I so frustrated at not being a supervisor?  Again, it was because of the pressure of needing to be the best.  Once I realized what I really wanted, I was relieved.  Glad, even, that I wasn’t a supervisor.  When I was taking an even further look at my career goals and aspirations, I was realizing I might not even want to be a supervisor in engineering.  I’m reaching the point in my life where I know I need to be passionate about something.  Although there are some aspects within engineering that I know I would not only love but also excel at, I still question the other politics and timing involved.  To me, more important is the flexibility I have for now to be able to balance my work and my family.  So I’m perfectly content with staying in the position I’m in.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have any ambitions for the future.  I’m always looking for something to do, and even though I have my career and my kids I’m working on other various and completely unrelated projects as well.  That’s how I balance.  By doing what I need to do (my career) while growing my family and having a little fun on the side (for me that’s writing and helping make a difference).  So while I’m open to the idea of possibly one day being a supervisor, I’m content at staying where I am for now.  I’ll wait for the best opportunity for me, in something I am passionate about.  I won’t become a supervisor just because it’s expected that I climb the corporate ladder or it’s the next logical step.  I won’t do anything unless I feel it’s the best step for me and my family.

I’ve realized that the main action we need to take is to create realistic goals for our lives.  Tailor your goals to what’s most important to you.  Change your perspective and aim for what you want, not what society tells you to want or you need.  You can have a career, and a family, and still balance your friends and social life as well.  Just as we budget our finances, we have to budget our time.  Manage your time wisely, some days your career will have to be a priority and some days your kids will be a priority.  It’s ok to change your priorities daily.  If I know I have an important meeting that I need to prepare for, I might have to take some extra time away from my kids for a bit.  But other days if the kids are off school or I just want to spend some extra time with them, then my I might take a vacation day because my kids will be the priority.  I’m lucky enough to be in a flexible working environment and understanding management.  This is definitely helpful, however I would like to think that if I didn’t have the flexibility I needed I would do what I had to find it.  So don’t be too hard on yourself and know that you are enough.  You are always enough and you’re probably doing a better job than you give yourself credit for.

The Calm before the Storm…Sunday prepping

So “calm” is actually a pretty relative term in this case.  Plus, I’m not actually that calm.  I’ve entered depression mode.  Tomorrow marks my first full week back to full-time since re-entering the work force after my maternity leave.  I was very fortunate to be able to take off five whole months of maternity leave (granted only 8 weeks was paid).  We’ll save the whole parental leave discussion for another post.  I have enough thoughts on that one to fill a book.

After I went back to work, I was only part time.  I was in the office only three days a week, Tuesdays through Thursdays.  Which meant I had four day weekends, every week.  It was glorious and I was definitely spoiled.  I had the best of both worlds, so to speak.  I got to enjoy time with my stay-at-home mommy friends while still having my career.  Then about six months later I added another day, which I mostly worked from home.  So technically, I was still at home for four day weekends (I at least didn’t have to leave to go to the office).  So now, one year after returning to work, my husband and I decided it was time to go back full time.  Really, he said he wanted nothing to do with the decision because it was me who would be working, not him.  However, since he’s the one who stays with our son while I’m at work I still wanted his opinion.  So we decided.  Full-time it is.

This weekend was a pretty busy weekend for my family.  My sister got engaged, so we have had family activities pretty much the whole weekend.  So today when having our family breakfast, my sister was complaining about going back to work and how she hates Mondays.  As I was about to make fun of her and rub it in that I get to relax at home (again, “relax” is relative considering I have toddler running around), it hit me.  I wasn’t actually going to be at home at all.  I had work too!  Well, damn.  So naturally, my brain started working in overtime.  “What is the menu this week for the kids?  Do I need to go grocery shopping before the week to have everything prepared?  Are the kids clothes all washed for this week?  Do we have everything they need for lunches?  I should probably clean the house too so I don’t have to stress this week cleaning up after work.  What meals can I prep today to make it easier and quicker for dinner after work?”  These were just some of the thoughts that ran through my head in the span of about a minute.  My husband saw the expressions running across my face and knew what was coming.  He saw me go from happy, to sad, to what he calls my “wheels turning” face (me overthinking), to resigned.

So being the great husband that he is, he kept reassuring me that it would be fine and I’ve worked full time pretty much my whole career.  Telling me not to worry, he has everything handled.  Don’t overthink anything because we will work it all out together.  And he did somewhat calm me down.  Now it’s just a matter of sucking it up and going back.  Yes, I’ll miss those extra days with my son.  Yes, it’s going to suck being back in the office five days a week.  Yes, it’s definitely going to be a challenging dealing with the kids and school and a toddler and my husbands work schedule and my work schedule.  But, I know we can handle it.  I try to stay positive, to be thankful for the opportunity of even being able to work part time for as long as I did.  Be thankful for the extra time I got with our son.  But now it’s time to tackle this whole full time gig with kids.  I know that just like everything else in our lives, as long as my husband and I stick together we can get through anything.  Because also like everything else, our biggest stress is each other when we run into miscommunication issues or inadvertently work against each other.  So, wish me luck!  Time to get back to prepping and cleaning before the hurricane, I mean toddler, wakes up.