Can the African Woman Have It All – A Successful Career and a Successful Home? (pt. 2)

Folorunsho Alakija/image credit:

Continued from part 1

First, set realistic career goals.

Unrealistic goals will leave you demotivated and guilty. We must understand that we can’t do everything or be everywhere. This means we can’t say yes to everything and every activity. We therefore need to set our priorities right; and learn when to say yes and when to politely say no. To effectively balance our careers and family needs, we must set both long term and short term goals and strive to achieve them. In doing so, we need to prioritise and communicate our goals clearly to all concerned – spouse, family, co-workers and employers. We must also ensure that we get the buy-in of all concerned. This way, we will be able to create a support system of people who will help us to achieve our career goals.

Secondly, discuss your career aspirations and goals with your spouse and solicit for his support.

Most often than not, if the men in our lives feel that they are an important part of all aspects of our lives, including our careers, they would be willing to support us. It is nearly impossible to have a successful career and a successful home without the support of our spouses. We must set our family goals with our husbands and ensure that we have an understanding. Having an understanding and supportive husband is very important for our careers and family life balance. My husband has been very supportive in this regard. He is my greatest fan who is always cheering me on. I couldn’t have done it without his support. When I have a tight schedule and need to meet a client’s deadline, he will volunteer to take care of our baby and the household chores so I could meet the deadline. He is also my greatest critic.

Sometimes he has to work all night to review work I am submitting to our clients and offer constructive criticisms. In families where both parents are involved in taking care of the children, the mother gets more satisfaction as a career woman. Mutual understanding between husband and wife ensures that along with bringing in the income, both parents share the responsibilities of childcare and the tremendous fulfilment that comes with it. If you are not married yet, be mindful of the kind of spouse you choose. If you will go far in life and achieve family and career success, who you marry matters. Marry a man who will support you as you climb the career ladder and not the one who will be jealous of your progress or compete with you.

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Thirdly, ensure that you have a supportive system in place that you can rely on.

In Africa where we practice the extended family system, working mothers can easily get the support of extended family members to help take care of their children while they go to work. Most often, our mothers, aunties, cousins and nieces are helpful in this regard. But in situations where you cannot fall on the support of the extended family, you can seek the services of trustworthy friends or professionals such as babysitters, nannies, etc. The reality is that you cannot possibly continue with your career aspirations if you don’t have such support system in place. Even if you have this support system, it is still challenging albeit possible. If you are an entrepreneur, make sure you have put effective systems in place such that even if you went on maternity leave, the company could still run smoothly.

Also, pursue effective time management.

For us to achieve work and family life balance as career women, we need to learn to manage our time effectively and efficiently. We need to put in our best during working hours and ensure that we close on time to take care of our families. Most people are under the erroneous impression that staying long in the office amounts to productivity. Sometimes the culture in the organisation is that everyone stays in the office long after working hours. Most often than not, many of the people who stay over at work don’t do anything productive but just to impress their employers. And if a working mother decides to close on time in order to take care of her family, she either feels guilty or she is made to feel guilty. We must understand that spending more time in the office does not necessarily mean adding more value or being more productive. So as working mothers, we must ensure that we manage our time well so we can have time for our various roles as wives, mothers and career women.

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Again, as working mothers, we must exhibit good work ethics such as punctuality, commitment, dedication, hard work and maintain our professionalism.

This way we will engender empathy towards us from all who influence our careers ― the employer, the spouse, the family and finally, society. As a matter of fact, good employees would get more empathy and better co-operation from their employers. And an understanding and co-operative employer would be able to get the best from his/her employees without holding back on the benefits due them. If you are an entrepreneur or employer, you need to show concern for your employees, value them and care for them. When your employees know that you care for them, they would also care for you, your business, and your clients. This way, even if you are not physically present to see to the running of the business, they would make sure the business runs smoothly.

Further, associate yourself with other women who have successfully balanced career and family and learn from them.

If you know career women who have attained success at home and work, seek mentorship from them and let them show you how they did it; and how you can do it as well. If there is a network or an association of such women, be sure to join them. Such associations will help you to stay focused and get answers to challenges you may encounter as you climb the career ladder as a working mother.

Last but not least, seek the face of God.

Pray to God about your family and about your career aspirations. In my view, we cannot achieve good success in our family and career lives if we leave God out of the equation. God has been an integral part of my career and family success, and I recommend Him to every woman everywhere. It is important for all career women to understand that achieving both family and career success is very challenging, and it can be very stressful. You cannot have it all with your physical strength. You need God’s grace, strength, enablement, wisdom and empowerment. So, pray to God always. Ask for strength, grace and wisdom daily to help you in this difficult journey. You and God, you are a formidable force and you can achieve anything.

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In conclusion, I admit that achieving successful family and career life is not easy as I thought; but it is possible. It is possible to be a wife, a mother, and a successful career woman. Many have done it with the help of God, their husbands, family members, friends, employers and society. In today’s world it is not only desirable but incumbent upon mothers to work and to contribute to the financial fortunes of the family. We are living in difficult times, and families need both husbands and wives to earn income in order to be financially sound. What’s more, as women, we are also blessed with gifts, talents and abilities which we need to discover, develop and deploy in the form of careers and businesses. It is incumbent on us to use the gifts that God has graciously given us. I believe that having a successful career adds to our completeness and makes us fulfilled. The rewards of achieving success at the family and career levels are many, including, personal fulfilment, financial benefits, and improved family life. It is possible. We can make it. God will help us!

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