Growing your career as a mom?

I am a new mom and have been struggling internally about advancing my career. I have felt like my insecurities are getting worse about work and my prospects moving forward. A part of my brain finds motherhood really empowering, and I've seen so many mamas absolutely killing it (including my own). For a while postpartum I felt like I was almost more free mentally, because I could get myself to do things (like ask for a raise) by thinking "it's for my son". However, now I am feeling increasingly plagued by self-doubt. I feel like so much has shifted for me internally and I don't even know where to start in discovering where I want my career to go next and building myself up to make moves to get there. Looking for advice on how to get myself out of this funk!

@astover Hi Alissa, I am starting a program for this, see if this resonates - understandable that you're facing self-doubts as everything changed around you. What has shifted for you internally that might be causing you confusion in your career?
Hi @astover - I can totally relate! I had my daughter 16 months ago and had been doing really well in my career but lost a lot of confidence. I worked with a coach for 3 months and it was so helpful and have been working with other mentors etc. It definitely has helped working with professionals but also just having some catch up calls with women who have been through the same and learning from them. Harness the power of the other women killing it so you can know you can do it too! You got this!
Thank you for sharing your experience!!! I've found it so helpful to connect with other moms and talk about mom stuff but it sounds like also trying to connect with working mamas and talk about the career element might be helpful. Would love to hear any tips you had on making those connections if you'd like to share any!
Give yourself a little grace and compassion. Balancing motherhood and work is hard and noone ever feels like they've found the right balance. You'll have times when you have it together and times when you feel like you aren't juggling anything well.That said, working with a mentor/professional coach or even therapist can be immensely helpful, as others said. If you can afford it, or if your employer provides mental health or coaching as a service, you may be better able to get to the bottom of what's keeping you down.One last thing - you don't mention how postpartum you are - postpartum depression is very common, has nothing to do with your ability to cope or resilience as a person (but a lot to do with hormone fluctuations that follow birth!). It doesn't always start immediately after birth. If you feel like you're constantly down and in a funk, that may be something else to consider.You got this, mama! You are balancing so much right now. Be kind to yourself - this is just tough stuff.
Totally agree with this re: never feeling like you've found a balance. Whenever I feel like my career is going well, I feel like I'm not getting enough time with my kid. Whenever I feel like parenting is going well, I feel like my work performance is suffering. It's a balancing act with no actual balance possible!
I've heard that from multiple working moms so it seems like that's definitely a common experience! I'm a bit of a perfectionist so this seems like a great opportunity to try to let some of that go. I had been working with a therapist for a while and didn't really consider that what I was feeling might be PPD but that is an important thing to think about for sure.
Hi @astover I’m sorry that you are feeling your level of self doubt. It can be extremely challenging and isolating to feel this way. I hope you have a good support system to get you through this. You need allies. All moms do especially right after having a baby. Is there a mentor at work with whom you could speak? I agree with @mounicaveggalam perhaps a life coach will help get you through this phase as a coach is someone who will help you figure out what you actually want to do. Then assist you in planning a way to do it and encourages you, as well as hold you accountable, to achieve your goal. It’s a great quick fix. However if you are dealing with postpartum depression in any way please seek professional help from a therapist as soon as possible. A therapist will help you diagnose and resolve problematic beliefs, behaviors, and feelings. With a new baby it may be challenging to go and see someone (although it may help taking a break from child care for a few hours), now there are options for receiving therapy from a psychologist at home. Try they are much more affordable and you will be able to talk to someone straight away or soon in 24hrs or something like that. Good luck. I know the feelings are intense and sometimes debilitating but I promise it will pass. You will come out the other side stronger and better for it and a whole new appreciation for yourself and motherhood in general. Stay strong, you will get through this.
Thank you for the mention @SabrinaD ! Yes, I work with moms to get over this phase quickly and achieve their goals despite the challenges that come with motherhood. I resonate with your thoughts about motherhood being intense. The other side of these debilitating feelings is strength, courage and a completely new way of being that we cannot imagine from being on this side.
Thank you Mounica! I have considered working with a coach. I currently work for a nonprofit and with the baby things are a bit tight so I've needed to think very carefully about that!
I think that I do have a pretty good support system! They have been also helping me cope with this. I do have access to a therapist which has been very helpful as well. I didn't really think that these could be symptoms of PPD but it definitely seems worth bringing it up with a professional. I think part of it is that the feelings of overwhelm / insecurity can make it hard to even talk about and be honest with people about how I am feeling. Thank you so much!
Hi Alissa, totally can empathize with you, being a working new mom is just plain hard to navigate. With my first born, I went back after 6 weeks and felt I constantly had to prove myself to get honored with a promotion (not even considering what that workload shift would entail). Push come to shove, I sacrificed a lot for a job that eventually furloughed me anyway due to the pandemic. To think of the time and energy I gave to that job (including evenings when I could have been with my daughter), I was able to completely shift my perspective for my twins that were born right around the time COVID happened. Here are some things I recommend:Determine what success means for you, not for everyone else. If that's a mid-level job that's stable and also gives you good work/life balance to be physically present for your son, try to subside the pressure to grow professionally - at least for now. Maybe you will feel differently in a few years.To be a working mom is empowering and sets a great example to our children. What is less great is for them to see us stuck on our phones, in meetings, and frequently having to deny them attention because 'mommy's working.' If you are seeking growth, be cognizant that many higher-up roles will be more demanding mentally and emotionally, and expect more of your time. And finally, believe it or not, there will always be another job. If you feel torn between home and work - lean into home, your kids will grow up and this is time you will not get back. I am totally supportive of career growth, professional development, and moms thriving in the workplace - but if something feels off or it just isn't the time for you, don't force it. As you know, to be a mom is a privilege, a responsibility, and an often thankless job, but it's one that only you can do for your child. I hope you find the balance and peace that makes you find fulfillment at home and at work. Big hug to you!!
This is great advice! I really appreciate you sharing this. I definitely value my time with my son a lot and I think choosing that has caused some conflict for me. Financial pressure is always an element and I want to make sure that I can provide for him in that way as well. Ultimately I know that what he needs / loves most is me but I also want to be able to support him in what he wants to do in life!
Hi @astover! Given what you're writing, I'd recommend working with a coach to uncover what's really holding you back, and/or pursuing something more practical and action based like pursuing career exploration, which is a process that is distinct from and a precursor to the job search, including a series of steps of practical learning and self-reflection in order to compare, contrast, and clarify which career path you are confident in pursuing. THAT is the process whereby you can confidently narrow in on which role, industry and environment is the best fit for you. In fact, I've helped numerous professionals to figure out, clarify, and pursue their ideal career direction. While pivots might seem big and scary, they're often more feasible than you think, but you at least deserve to identify which path would be the best fit for you first, and then determine what your strategy, approach or next steps would be. By the way, I'm Rachel Serwetz, a Career Exploration Coach (, and I'm happy to chat further if you'd like! ( )
Thank you Rachel! I think you are spot on re: career exploration being the right, actionable step right now
🙌happy to chat and share how I can help guide you through it! Let me know :) My calendar is here —
Hey @astover I can definitely relate to this! I have 3 kids, and there are so many days that I conflicted - I'm ready to lean into my career, and my children are very much pulling on me to lean out! My advice is give yourself some grace to explore things that you are passionate about in your career, without worry of where it will take you. Eventually, the career will click. Also find colleagues and mentors to connect with - sometimes (especially when you are tired and feel like you are barely threading water) they can see opportunities for you that you might have missed. Most of all, hang in there and DON'T GIVE UP. You are being an incredible role model for your kids, and that is an amazing gift for them. Good luck!
Thank you so much Kasey! This is very comforting. The word "conflict" sounds right. I've read about the benefits of having a working mom, especially for sons (I have a baby boy), and I do value that. It is hard to not worry but it sounds like letting go a bit and being willing to stay open to what might come could be a helpful mindset.
@astover First, congrats on becoming a mom! It's HARD managing a growing career and growing family, especially at the beginning. Supporting what everyone has said thus far. If you're interested in a community of working parents, I'd love for you to follow my company, Superkin, on instagram or sign up for our emails. We're all about ditching the outdated narratives of working parenthood with relevant + engaging content :-)
Wanted to follow up with everyone -- I ended up starting a job search since the market is so competitive. Wanted to see what I might find. It was stressful and burnt me out and I'm still recovering from that, but the good news is that I ended up with 3 competing offers within a few weeks...and my dream job!! Not an easy process but I'm starting the new role in July and couldn't be happier with it. I guess as many folks say in motherhood you are juggling constantly and when you ease into one thing, others start to fall. Definitely saw that with my self care and as a result of that my personal relationships have become pretty strained. Ready to take more time off and try to recuperate now. Thanks all for the advice!