Can a woman combine a successful career with no less successful raising of children? Yes, she can if she is Victoria Beckham or Kim Kardashian with an army of nannies and tutors. If you are an average woman, however, you will have to choose between the glory of a career and the duty of a mother.
Don’t believe those online advisors who assure you that the friend of a friend of her brother’s wife raised five children, while becoming a CEO of a large corporation, learning five foreign language and having a top-model figure; having done all this with no nannies or housekeepers and having time to herself for reading, going for long hikes, and enjoying romance and passion with her husband. And that anyone can do the same.
All these tales do is sink your self-esteem without being helpful in the least. It is better that you read an article about my real experience: how much time you need to raise three children and how much time is left to build your business.
Five years ago, when I just started giving my first webinars, my children were 11, 9 and 7 years old and I spent 12 hours a day raising them. My daughters were homeschooled, so I did not waste time on endless homework-checking and PTA meetings. The children went to see paid doctors, so I did not waste my time in the lines at state-subsidized clinics. I raised the children to be independent; they could make their own breakfast and get their own things for the swimming pool or their clubs; I did not have to spoon-feed them or monitor their every step.
Still, I spent all day long being a chauffeur for my kids.
MY REGULAR DAY IN 2014
In the morning I would put all the kids in the car and take my son to the day care and my daughters to the swimming pool, then to the chess club, then to the school to take mandatory tests, then to the dentist, then I’d take Nastya for drawing lessons; each day we had to make it to several places. In the evening I had to pick up my son from the day care, give everyone supper and talk to them before bedtime.
As a result, I could only spend 3-6 hours a day on work and that in bits and pieces, while the kids were busy. For example, I would take my daughters to the chess club and in the meantime do a short webinar for parents on raising children. Or I would write an article while the girls were swimming.
That said, the tutor did homework with the children, the housekeeper cleaned up, I didn’t cook, I minimized all the home chores as much as I could, and my mom came to help me on weekends. Even with all that, my productivity was approaching zero. All my time went into routine upkeep and solving routine problems.
Yes, I could have sent the children to school, just like putting them in storage, but I realized that what they would be taught was something that was useful and popular in the last century but would lead to failure in modern times. I could have hired a nanny to do homework with them and a chauffeur to take them to the pool and clubs, while I would work on my business 12 hours a day.
I realized, however, that no school and no nanny could raise my children to be successful and independent, not to mention that not too many people can fit a home staff into their budget.
THE FUTURE AND EDUCATION
The format of teaching and education in public schools is based on bringing the children to the “common denominator,” on making them into obedient and convenient machine parts. No one bothers to nurture a child’s talent in school. On the contrary, they are deprived of the right to develop their strengths and to learn to offset their weaknesses.
Would it be fair if I built my business while my children’s heads were stuffed with absolutely unpromising knowledge that guarantees no future? In that case, my children would grow up, come to me, and say, “Mom, what did you waste our childhood on? Why didn’t you teach us something useful that is needed in the present-day world?”
Now, you will absolutely logically ask me, “You, Olga, had also graduated from a regular Soviet school, which did not prevent you from becoming a successful businesswoman and making a million dollars a year. Why do you think that this outdated school format would harm your children?”
That is because in the 21st century the world changes so quickly that the school cannot teach children the skills that will be needed in 20 years. That is why I had set a maternal goal for myself: to give my children the largest possible set of qualities, knowledge, and skills based on which they could build any career in any professional area.
INDEPENDENCE AND CHILDREN’S FINANCES
I’ve been teaching my children to manage money since they were five. Allowance makes them choose: should they buy a cheap little toy or should they save for something expensive and high-quality. After a cheap toy broke down and went into trash a couple of times they mastered the concept of “long-term perspective” very clearly.
When my daughters turned 10, I started giving them small assignments, for example, transcribing an audio. I paid them the same rates I paid to freelancers. In addition, they won awards in chess competitions and had money that they managed on their own.
I taught the kids independence using the natural consequences method. If you forget your gym clothes, you have problems in gym; if you don’t want problems in gym, next time you make sure that you’ve got everything you need.
My children also learned to deal with teachers on their own, but not without hints from mom. In Belarus, if homeschooled children do not pass their tests for the quarter, they have to switch to regular school and my girls really did not want to go to school every day and sit through five-six classes a day there. That is why they very quickly learned how to talk to the teachers and how to give the answers that would get them a good grade, even if they had to say the nonsense out of a textbook.
I taught my children quick-reading and searching for information from several sources, so as to get the overall, objective picture. I taught them to keep personal boundaries very simply: if you, children, were very noisy last night and had upset mother, she will have a headache in the morning and will not be able to take you to some interesting place. So, be so kind as to play rough in your own room and not right in my space.
No nanny can teach children to be independent. No tutor, unless they are a Harvard graduate, can teach children financial thinking. If such miracle-tutors exist, it is only Arab sheikhs who can afford to engage them for their children.
WHEN THE CHILDREN HAVE GROWN
Right now, my info business is five years old and my business revenues have reached one million dollars. I have created over 80 classes and workshops and have put together a team of employees that I manage. Hundreds of my comments and articles have been published in popular media and business publications, such as the Cosmopolitan, Vedomosti, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Glamour, Elle, WMJ, Kleo, Eva, Passion, Woman, RIA Novosti, IA REX, Psychologies, The Village, Metro, Women's Health, Marketing and Marketing Research, Marketing and Finance, Letidor, Banki.ru, etc.
I wrote and published the books Reasonable Marketing. How to Sell More While Spending Less and Modern Marketing Techniques for businesses on the post-Soviet territories, as well as the book Education for Life. I moved to the UAE, starting a business.
I could only achieve these results once my children were grown and I stopped taking them places all day long. The older and more independent my children grew, the more time I could spend working.
I think I raised my children right: my oldest daughter is going to a prestigious boarding high school in the USA and my middle daughter was accepted there too. True enough, the children’s education is not cheap. The cost of studying and flying home for the holidays is over 75 thousand dollars a year for each, so I have to earn more and more.
Can you imagine what my results would have been today if I could have worked 12 hours a day instead of 3 five years ago?
That is why if anyone tells you that children do not interfere with a career and a real woman must, don’t listen to those tales.
Children are definitely love and happiness. Raising them, however, takes quite a chunk of the mother’s time. During that time you cannot practice your profession full-time. That is why, all other things being equal, the career or business of a man not tied up by child care is sure to be more successful than those of a mother of a large family with small children.