One of the most impactful lessons and takeaways during this soul searching experience was the concept of trade offs. (Sidebar: During my studies I fell in love with strategy so I apologize in advance for my bias in relating to life through a strategic lens.) This simple definition may be helpful in understanding my interpretation of a trade off.
"A trade-off means that more of one thing necessitates less of another".
Trade-offs in general occur when activities are incompatible. Embarking on the MBA journey itself was a significant tradeoff and along the way there were (and will continue to be) so many more in life. This discovery proved hugely valuable as the extensive leadership development components of my studies forced me to dissect and identify a balanced "strategic" path as a Mom and a professional.
As a highly ambitious and goal driven person, I often found myself conflicted on how to balance my career aspirations and parenting desires. This became more difficult as my career progressed in parallel to the growth of my family. As my husband often says, "having one kid is like babysitting". I found that life as a working Mom of one - especially in the very early years - was manageable and there were fewer tradeoffs required to find a work/life balance. Fast forward to child two along with the first child entering elementary school and life becomes .... Well, let's just say life becomes a game of trade offs and a deep dive into discovering what really matters hits like a train wreck.
Being the closet research scientist that I am, I began to quietly and openly explore ways to find peace within what felt like a 'rat in a wheel' lifestyle. While this is an ongoing process, I immediately found a few sources to be particularly helpful in sorting personal challenges (e.g. - career, "am I really doing what brings me joy") as well as parenting life balance challenges (e.g. "am I giving the kids and their school enough attention", "how do I keep my personal and marital interests in play"). Aside from reading lots of awesome books (Mojo Mom is one of my faves) and perusing great parenting resources online, I also found engaging and connecting with other Moms - openly - to be the most helpful. I believe the latter felt more helpful because there was mutual benefit. I learned that Moms tend to exist and make it all happen while silently carrying so much with us - emotionally and otherwise. We 'just do' and more often than not we assume that everyone else is doing it more easily than us. This can be true, on occasion, but what I found most often was that we all have so many of the same desires, challenges, trade offs and need to connect. What I also discovered is that while we all recognize the huge benefits in the moment, many of us tend to bypass this arguably therapeutic outlet and other opportunities for self care in spite of the overwhelming returns such interactions create.
As I discovered this personal re-fueling effect and the other benefits of this interaction, I became deeply committed to the pursuit of a life that encourages and incentivizes other Moms to deliberately schedule time for regular, frequent and guilt less self care.