6 ways single working mums can get ahead of the game

6 ways single working mums can get ahead of the game

In July and August, we featured articles about working mums. As Selipha Kihagi and I wrote these articles, I got thinking about single working mums, who have to work and bring up children on their own.

Single working mums endure a lot. And so it’s only fair that we acknowledge the different struggles they go through compared to married working mums or those who live with their partners.

In case you missed them here are the other articles on working mums:
1. Is it possible for working mums to have work-life balance?
2. Top 5 challenges working mums face and how to overcome them.
3. 4 monumental challenges affecting children of working mothers.
4. 6 little known advantages children of working mums have.

I’ve been a single working mum since 2014 when I walked out of an abusive marriage. It wasn’t an easy decision to make and I didn’t think I’d come across some of the challenges I’ve faced over the years.

Also, I wasn’t aware of some biases I had about single mums until the same biases were turned on me. Now that was a real eye opener!

As a single working mum, chances are that you lack the physical, emotional and financial support most working mums with a partner enjoy. You also experience instances of societal prejudice for two facts: you’re a single mum and a working mum.

In the first days of being a single mum, there are times you will want to run out on your family because of the never-ending pressure and stress. There are also days when you cry (or want to cry) at the end of a long day because you feel alone and helpless.  

In the midst of all this, there are expectations that you will raise your child(ren) into useful members of society. However, you and I know that it’s hard to bring up children in today’s world, whether you’re a single mum or not.

The challenges experienced by single working mums are many, but not insurmountable. Once you understand and prepare for them, you can find solutions that work for you and your family.

Below are 6 ways single working mums can work around their challenges and come up winning. Some of these are challenges faced by working mums with partners too.

6 ways single working mums can get ahead of the game

1. Let go of destructive emotions

Being a single mum can be a result of many factors. These may include divorce, death of a partner, breakups in relationships, choice, and unplanned pregnancy, among others.

Regardless of the contributing factor, single working mums go through various destructive emotions including loneliness, self-doubt, guilt and depression.

The guilt aspect grows even bigger for divorced single mothers, especially if you initiated the divorce and keep questioning the decision you made.

These emotions, if not tackled as early as you experience them, can lead to depression. Since a mother’s emotions and moods affect her children, then your children will suffer when you’re sad or depressed. They will also be happy when you’re happy. 


  • Forgive yourself for the situation you’re in. If you chose to leave, accept the consequences of your choice and move on. If someone hurt you, learn to forgive them.
  • Second, if you’re suffering from depression, seek the help of a trained therapist or counsellor. 
  • Finally, accept that you cannot be a super mum. Instead, know that what you’re doing is enough. Stop feeling guilty about things you cannot change.

2. Reduce overwhelm

When you don’t have a partner to support you in parenting roles, you can suffer constant overwhelm.

As a single working mum, there will be times when you feel the world crumble beneath you. This is more so when all finances, decisions and discipline are your sole responsibility.

When the overwhelm is great, you end up feeling financially burdened. You also feel as if you’re not a good decision maker.

I think one of the worst times is when your child is going through a challenging period and you feel inadequate to handle it. This happened to me a few days ago when I had to handle some deep stuff with my son.

I felt totally overwhelmed and out of my depth. This so bad that I also started reminiscing about the times when I would have passed that on to his dad. That was a shocker because over the years I thought I had gotten the handle on being both mum and dad. 

Other times, you may need to discipline a child and don’t have the time to think things through or listen to their side of the story. And let me not talk about the times when your disciplining methods are insufficient…

You’ll want help or a second opinion from someone, but there will be no one to help. It’s time to take responsibility and be 100% in charge of your life and finances.


  • Learn to say ‘No’ to people who want more of your time.
  • Take control of your life. Improve your financial situation and get legal help if your children’s father is not 
  • Interact with other single working mums like you. Talk to those who have been in your shoes and succeeded.
  • Avoid negative people who keep putting you down. Hang out with positive and empowering people.
Accept that you cannot be a super mum and stop feeling guilty about things that you cannot change. Click To Tweet

3. Stop neglecting yourself

You or other mums you know have probably been a victim of this challenge. You have a lot to do between maintaining a household, excelling at work and raising your kid(s). It’s easy to forget about yourself.

Self-neglect is common among mothers, and an even bigger challenge among single mums who work full-time. It’s easy to focus on making money and taking care of your children that you totally eliminate your self-care.


  • Start by scheduling a specific amount of time for yourself every week. Spend this time doing something you love.
  • If possible, give yourself 30 minutes of ‘me-time’ each day so that you unwind and relax.
  • Don’t forget your emotional and social needs. Keep in touch with friends and go our with your girlfriends once in a while – even if it’s just once a month.

4. Don’t shy away from the tough ‘daddy questions’

All single working mums will the experience daddy questions at one time or another. Your child comes home from school sad and they ask about their daddy.

Or maybe you’re watching a program on TV and up pops the question. There will also be play-dates, school events and maybe sleep-overs that spark the conversation.

If the father is present as a co-parenting figure, it might be easier to explain. However, it’s a totally different (and painful) situation if he’s completely absent.


  • Your feelings about your child(ren)’s father don’t matter anymore. Put aside any negative feelings you may have and  be as positive as you can when talking to and about him.
  • Answer the questions as honestly as you can without talking ill of the dad or portraying him as an angel.
  • Try and work out a co-parenting relationship with the dad so that the children get to know him. If need be, hire a legal expert to help you out.
  • Resist the temptation to have a man in your life just so that your children have a daddy figure.
Interact with other single working mums like you. Talk to those who have been in your shoes and succeeded. Click To Tweet

5. Overcoming social isolation

Single working mums tend to isolate themselves under the disguise of maintaining sanity. You refrain from going out with work colleagues, forming new friendships or even attending social events.

If it’s not a business event, you’re better off staying home…that’s how you reason it out in your mind.

One unfortunate result of social isolation is that it leads to you bottling up a lot of negative feelings and emotions. Also, because you have no one to talk to about personal issues, they start to consume you.

Some women try to overcome this by making their children their confidants. In some cases, children end up becoming their mother’s emotional support, which lays a heavy burden on a child’s shoulders.


  • Humans need social interaction at their level of growth, and you’re not an exception. There’s nothing wrong with having someone take care of your children once in a while as you interact with other grownups.
  • Neither is it wrong to take a day off from child responsibilities to catch up with friends and family.
  • Create a small circle of people you trust and connect with them regularly. When you’re with your friends, be positive and not just someone who dumps their stuff on others.

6. Missing your children when you or they are away

If and when you’re co-parenting, there will be times when your children will be away from you. For most single working mums, this is usually on weekends or school holidays.

There may also be times when your work demands that you travel and leave your children for a few days or weeks.

As your children grow, they will also start having a life of their own. Overnight school trips, visits to friends and relatives, sleepovers…they soon seem to enjoy spending nights away from home.

During this time you’re going to miss their presence. You’re going to wonder if they are okay. And you’re probably going to worry about what they might be exposed to.

There’s nothing wrong with having someone take care of your children once in a while as you interact with other grownups.

I remember how hard it was for me to let my children go away for a whole school holiday. They spent the holiday partly with their dad then they went to visit my parents and sisters’ families.

That holiday was a long one. First, I didn’t do anything meaningful until they arrived in Nairobi. This was because they were travelling from Mombasa to Nairobi on their own for the first time.

Then I hardly slept the first week because I was wondering how they were doing, whether they were sick, if they were missing me and their stuff…lots of worry.

Shock on me when the boys had a ball and made this trip a part of their school holidays. In the 3 years that we have lived in Mombasa, I’ve only travelled with them once. They make their own arrangements, pack their suitcases, travel and come back home, all on their own.

With time, the stress of letting them go has turned into comfort and a sense of accomplishment. Taking charge of their travel and holidays has also increased my children’s the level of responsibility. Not having me with them has made them learn how to make responsible decisions and actions.

On my side, while the first few days without the children are not easy, I’ve learnt to take advantage of the extra free time to relax and indulge in my self-care.


  • Let your children step away from home. Start with 1-2 days and then increase to longer periods. Remember that their safety is non-negotiable so make sure that the people you leave them with are responsible.
  • Work-related separation is never easy. Allow your children to plan for their activities when you’re the one going away. When you come back home, spend some extra time catching up with them.
  • Schedule extra self-care for yourself when your children travel. Watch your favourite movies, hang out with friends, go to the spa or simply spend time at home doing things you love.

Get ahead of the game as a single working mum

Now you have 6 tips that will help you get ahead of the game. While being a single working mum is not easy, it doesn’t mean that you cannot live a full and meaningful life.

Having the right attitude, taking the right actions and surrounding yourself with empowering people are core to your success. With these in place, you will create a better home life for yourself and your children.

Over to you…

Are you a single working mum? What are your strategies for maintaining your sanity even as you grow your career and bring up your children?

(Image Credit: Unsplash)

Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck, gain confidence and eliminate time wastage. Contact Caroline to request for a Clarity Coaching Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.


Did you know that a lot of people make BIG strides of their goals in the last quarter of the year? Join me in this 90 minute class and find out how you can make the last quarter of this year count for you!

goal setting

Are the beliefs you have about yourself really true?

Having positive and empowering beliefs moves you forward. However, some beliefs take away your power to improve and achieve your goals effectively.

In this article, I share how changing a negative belief helped my client Mary (not her real name) overcome a bad habit – that of sleeping and waking up late – in one week.

To get the most out of this article, put yourself in Mary’s shoes. Examine one belief you have about yourself or your abilities using the questions I asked Mary.

Time management vs managing yourself

Time management is a huge challenge for most people. It’s also one of the core areas my clients work on during their coaching.

In a coaching session Mary mentioned that she had a problem waking up early. This was partly because she slept late every night. Waking up late was affecting her time management during the day as she was always trying to catch up with time.

She’d tried different things over the years, but nothing worked. Therefore, she labelled herself as someone who loves sleeping. This became part of her identity and her friends and family accepted it of her.

During our coaching session, Mary noted that she was tired of starting her day late because it was affecting her business. Waking up at 8:00am meant that her work day started at around 11:00am.

A number of clients and prospects had complained that they had gone to her business in the morning and left when they didn’t find her. It was clear to her now that waking up late no longer served her business and it was also affecting her financial status.

What I found most interesting is the way she justified her habit when she said, “I’m not a morning a morning person. My energy comes in at around 11:00am.” She also believed that it was impossible for her to sleep early because she was a night person.

Beliefs vs truth

My response to her opinions was to challenge her thinking so that she could see the impact of her beliefs and habits on her goals. I asked her the following questions:

  • Really? Is this REALLY true?
  • I think this is a lie you’ve told yourself until it has become your truth…What is this lie costing you emotionally, financially, and in other ways?
  • Is this lie and habit going to work for you now and in the future, given the goals you’ve set for yourself and your business?

We explored these questions together and identified the impact the belief and habit were having on her life and business. The picture of her future that emerged was not a good one at all. That was all the motivation Mary needed in order to take action and change the habit.

She came up with a number of things she could do to sleep and wake up earlier than she was used to. These included:

  • Reducing coffee intake after 6:00pm.
  • Eliminating phone calls with friends and clients in the evenings (she spent a lot of time listening to people’s problems…).
  • Going to bed and turning off the lights by 9:30pm daily.
  • Setting her wake up alarm for 6:00am daily.

I also recommended that she:

  • Stops snoozing and wake up when the alarm sounds.
  • Place the clock (or phone) far from the bed so that she has to wake up and walk to where it is to turn it off.
  • Remove the bedside rug if she has any so that she steps on the cold floor when she wakes up to turn off the clock. This would hopefully kill her sleep immediately.

The turn-around

The results of this homework were amazing. In the next coaching session, Mary was bubbling. She was very excited with her results and had also completed a lot of pending work because of the extra time she had gained that week.

Within a week, she managed to sleep by 10:00pm daily. She had also woken up before her alarm 3 times that week.She didn’t even do all the things she had identified as homework and never had to practice any of my recommendations.

Her motivation to change was so high that she changed almost immediately.

At the same time, she was shocked about the fact that she had believed a ‘truth’ about herself that was truly a lie! She wondered what else she believed about herself and her abilities that was not true.

This was such an AHA that she asked herself a very profound question, “Where have I been all of my life?”

We were both silent for a few moments after she voiced this question in the session. On my side, I was silent because I knew that her life would never be the same again. Not after such a life-changing experience.

Mary’s situation is not unique and many people have similar beliefs and habits. The day after Mary’s session, I shared this exercise with another client who also believed that she’s not a morning person.

She’d been complaining that she had so much to do and her days just rushed by. Evenings found her tired and worrying about the work that’s still pending. Yet, she couldn’t identify what was taking her time.

After answering the same questions I asked Mary, this client got a light bulb moment in less than 10 minutes and found a solution to her time management problem.

These two experiences got me thinking a lot about the lies we believe about ourselves, our habits, and our abilities. These lies are so entrenched in our psyche that they have become our truths.

And these ‘true lies’ hold us hostage and reduce our chances of success.

Your turn…

What beliefs do you hold that are not true?
How are they affecting you and your ability to succeed in all areas of your life?
What will be your default future if you don’t change these beliefs and the habits they support?
Are you willing to allow this to happen?

(Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash)

Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck, gain confidence and eliminate time wastage. Contact Caroline to request for a Clarity Coaching Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.
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Have you given your dreams your all?


It’s said that dreams don’t die loudly. They die slowly and silently.

This is something I’ve reflected on a lot over the last few weeks during my holiday. I took 7 weeks off work and spent most of that time with my family.

During this time, I also got a chance to visit one of my clients’ business. I helped her refine her business idea and work through the startup period. However, I never got to see the physical business until this year.

When Mercy Ndegwa came to me in 2015 with the wish to set up a kindergarten, she was quite apprehensive about starting a business. She was also sceptical about coaching and didn’t see how this would work for her.

However, she took a step of faith and signed up for business startup coaching in January 2016. Her school opened in September 2016 and is celebrating its first birthday this month.

I’m very glad I got to visit the school during my holiday because seeing Mercy’s dream in reality gave me a lot of food for thought.

Giving your dreams your all

My sister and I were silent for a few minutes as we drove out of Mercy’s school. We had been shown through the school and even had a look at the gardens. Mercy had also openly shared her challenges, successes, lessons learnt, and future dreams.

We were both silent as Mercy showed us around and told us her story. The silence wasn’t because of what she was saying. It was mainly because of the lessons we were both picking from her.

As we drove away, I spoke first and told my sister, “WG, I’m wondering…have we given our dreams our all?” She nodded and told me that she was thinking the same thing.

There was more silence as we ruminated on the implications of our thoughts. And then we got talking about the fact that we were allowing our business dreams to die. We were not giving them our all!

Going back to the beginning

That experience has given me a lot to think about. I don’t think Mercy was aware that she was giving me a challenge just by living her dream.

While I have taken big strides on my business, I realized then that I had also allowed my original business dream to die. Life got in the way and it was easier to work with the things that were bringing quick money.

This meant conveniently ignoring the things that would take time to set up, but would shape my business into the original dream. Unfortunately, the activities that bring in quick money don’t bring as much fulfilment and satisfaction in the long-term!

After the visit, I took a big step back and committed to go back to the beginning and kick-start my business dream – the one I had when I started this business in 2011.

So many times we allow life and our circumstances to steal our dreams. We start off strong and then get bogged down with challenges and stuff along the way.

With time, these challenges consume all our time, energy, resources, and efforts. The dream slowly slides away…and dies silently.

This happens to all types of dreams and not just business dreams. Is it happening to you? Have you given up, or worse still, settled for less than you’re worth?

What are you willing to do for your dreams?

It’s one thing to talk about the things you want to be, do or have. It’s another to actually take action on them and keep refining the results until you get exactly what you want.

Do you have one dream that you know will change your life for the better when you finally achieve it, but you’ve set it aside?

Or did you start working on the dream and got sidetracked or the dream suddenly seemed too big for you to handle?

Are you willing to give it your all? Are you willing to fight for your dream?

It takes time to achieve our most desired dreams. Also, the bigger your dream is, the more effort and commitment you have to give it.

Working on your dream or letting is die is a choice. Which choice do you make today?

Your turn…

Have you had an experience that gave you a wake-up call regarding a forgotten or neglected dream? Share with us in the Comments below.

(Photo by Ryan Riggins on Unsplash)

Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck, gain confidence and eliminate time wastage. Contact Caroline to request for a Clarity Coaching Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.
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6 little known advantages children of working mums have

children of working mums

Over the last three weeks, we have talked about the challenges that working mums face. We explored the disadvantages that children of working mums face in last week’s post.

Today’s article is the fourth in the series on working mums. Here are the other articles in the series:
1. Is it possible for working mums to have work-life balance?
2. Top 5 challenges working mums face and how to overcome them.
3. 4 monumental challenges affecting children of working mothers.

As a working mum, there is a lot to be scared of when it comes to your children. On one hand you worry about your children’s safety.

On the other hand, you’re concerned of a possible drift between you and your children. And as you leave your child at home with the nanny or at daycare to go to work, it’s possible to experience emotional difficulties.

Such fears and emotional guilt make many working mums conscious of the effect their absence will have on their children.

While your spouse may participate fully in helping out with the kids, primary care of the child remains a woman’s responsibility. This is true even in the case of working mums.

But, there is good news about children of working mums. This is the kind of good news that every working mum should take pride in, more so because it encompasses the benefits your children stand to gain for having a career mum.

Advantages of children of working mums

1. Your daughters are more likely to get hired in supervisory roles

We all want our children to lead great lives. We want to see them grow up into responsible members of the society. Above all, we want them to have successful careers, marriages, and succeed in every part of their life.

As a working mum, you’re probably doing what you do not only to achieve self-fulfilment, but also to inspire your children. You want to show them that women can have a career and be there for their family. 

Well, you can now rest in the knowledge that your daughters are more likely to get hired than daughters of stay-at-home mums. Additionally, they are also better equipped to get hired in supervisory roles.

This is because working mums act as a role model as well as a determining factor. It’s easy for children of working mums to tell themselves, “If my mum did it, I can do it too”. This in turn drives these children to become a better versions of their mothers.

Daughters of working mums are more likely to get hired in supervisory roles. Click To Tweet

2. Children of working mothers are likely to earn a higher income

This is based on the same concept as the one above. In the same research showing the likelihood of daughters of working mums getting supervisory roles, it emerged that they also earn a better salary.

Because children of working mums have seen their mothers fight for promotions, get better paying jobs, or get salary increments at work, they too are confident enough to fight for the same.

The same is true for working mums who are business owners and not employed. The more successful the mums get, the more the kids are likely to succeed. This is more so if the mothers share their experiences with their children.

3. Your children are likely to be more independent

Children of working mums understand that routines can change depending on their mother’s work. It could be that mum is having an early meeting, a business trip, or a late night event.

Also, there are times when you show up late for school pick up. Or when you’re not home early enough to tuck them in and ask about their day.

While this is heart-breaking for you and for your kids too, there is some good that will come of it. For starters, a child exposed to changes in routine starts to adapt early.

These children also learn how to do most tasks on their own, if you teach them to. Some simple tasks that young children of working mums undertake include:

  • Waking up on their own.
  • Getting ready for school, church, or other family trips on their own.
  • Being able to serve their own breakfast and butter their bread without mum’s help.
  • Putting away dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
  • Clearing the table.
  • Keeping their rooms clean and tidy.
  • Simple household tasks.

By allowing your children to take up more tasks, you end up raising independent children. At the same time, this gives you more time for your own self-care.

Children of working mums are likely to earn higher income and be more independent. Click To Tweet

4. Men raised by working mums contribute more to the home

If there is one wish that most working mums in Kenya have, it’s for a husband that helps out with household chores. Many working mothers wish the fathers of their children would take up some of the slack.

Unfortunately, not many men are willing to do so. Even simple errands such as buying milk or baby oil on the way home meet with resistance.

And when the men do help with such errands, sometimes they end up buying the wrong things or come home so late that you no longer need the items. 

If you’re worried about your son becoming a deadbeat dad in future, you can rest that worry. Men raised by working mothers contribute more hours to home-related chores and child-care than those of stay-at-home mums.  They are also more dedicated to helping out outside the home.

5. Children of working mothers are well-behaved

Are you worried that your child may pick up bad behaviour because you’re not around much? Well, you’re not alone. Most working mothers are concerned that their children will experience behavioural problems due to their absence.

But this should not cause you sleepless nights. Apart from biology and genes, a child’s development child is affected by family and environment. While you may not have control over the former two, you can decide how you want the latter two to mould your children.

Research has shown that working mothers’ children are not in any way less behaved. In fact, sometimes they turn out better. But this of course will depend on the environment you expose your child to.

Men raised by working mums contribute more to home-related chores and child-care than those of stay-at-home mums. Click To Tweet


Being a working mum is not an easy task. You will feel inadequate, guilty and like you are always making mistakes. You will constantly wonder if you are doing the right thing and worry about how your children will turn out.

Despite all the negative information about children of working mothers, know that your children will be okay as you grow your career. Be a strong role model for them in your work and at home so that they too benefit from having a working mother.

This will be possible when you encourage open communication and set aside time for family bonding. Take time for family in the mornings or evenings and be there fully on weekends when you’re home. 

Your turn…

What advantages have you seen in children of working mums, including yours if you’re a working mum? Tell us in the Comments (and it’s OK to brag a bit this time…).

(Photo by Nathaniel Tetteh on Unsplash)

Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck, gain confidence and eliminate time wastage. Contact Caroline to request for a Clarity Coaching Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.
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4 monumental challenges affecting children of working mothers

working mothers

Maintaining a full-time career while raising children is no easy task for parents. It is especially difficult for working mothers who have to endure judgement from society and hostility at the office.

This is the third article in a series on working mums. Here are the other articles in the series:
1. Is it possible for working mums to have work-life balance?
2. Top 5 challenges working mums face and how to overcome them.

While more men are becoming increasingly supportive in the home, women are still expected to be the main caregivers. So when a mother chooses to raise her kids along a full-time career, a lot is put in question.

For instance, when a child falls ill, is abused or a similar problem arises, the mum is blamed for not being home for the child. Rarely is the father blamed.

“If only she had been home looking after her child, this would not have happened.”  You will hear some say in hushed tones. Some stay-at-home mums will be quick to comment and say things like: “Why do mothers leave their babies alone with nannies? I could never be that mean to my little angel.”

A study conducted in 25 countries shows that working mothers raise more successful daughters than stay-at-home mothers. Daughters of working mothers are better educated, higher paid and more likely to be employed in supervisory roles.

In contrast, it’s worth noting that a woman choosing to stop working to raise her children doesn’t necessarily guarantee better child development.

But, even as the advantages of having a working mother increase with every generation, disadvantages are not exempt.

In this article, we share 4 challenges that children of working mothers face. We also share what can be done to avert or recover from these challenges.

Challenges affecting children of working mothers

1. Poor early childhood development

The first years of a child are the most crucial. Brain development is usually at its peak during this time. Throughout these years, high-quality support is highly recommended and lack of it could mean harmful effects on a child.

For this reason, working mothers need to hire nannies who are up to the challenge. The same is true for day-care centres. Unfortunately, what we sometimes perceive to be of high quality is not always the case.

You may hire someone you think is the perfect nanny only to regret later. For instance, working mums who have hired very quiet nannies notice a change in their bubbly kids. They tend to become more withdrawn and start talking later than their age-mates.


To counter this, working mothers can keep a daily record of their child’s progress to notice any changes as soon as they occur.

2. Higher chances of kids associating with bad company

If you are a working mum who travels a lot and is absent from your children’s lives, chances of your kids falling into the bad company are very high.

Every day of a child’s life is a story to tell. Children want to talk to their parents about that bully in class, the boy being inappropriate, the stranger who is always offering them candy, and the cute boy or girl they like. When they get older, the list of things to talk about is endless.

So when they can’t speak to you about these life changing moments, they turn to the next best person. Unfortunately, the next person can be anyone, increasing the chances of your child making friends with the wrong crowd.


To avoid this, you can assure your child that you’re always there to listen. While it might be draining to listen to your child go on about their day when you are extremely tired, this effort will pay off in the end. Even when on a trip, allow them to talk to you over the phone or have a video chat about their day.

3. Disconnect between mother and child

This is a disadvantage linked to number 2 above. As one of the working mothers in Kenya, you probably try very hard to make it to your kid’s events. But sometimes, there are circumstances that may lead you into a series of absences.

While your absence may have been unplanned, a child may feel like their working mum does not care. This situation gets worse when their friends’ mums are always showing up and you’re not.


To avoid disconnect, you can always reassure your kids by taking time from your busy schedule to surprise them with family time. You don’t always have to wait for the next sports day, home project, or Sunday lunches to connect with your children.

4. High risk of falling into depression

The constant absence of a mum in their children’s lives can lead to depression. This is especially so when the child believes that their mum would rather work than spend time with them.

Through the celebrations of World Health Day earlier this year, we learnt that Kenya is the 6th most depressed country in Africa. It also emerged that depression affects more children between ages 5 and 15 years today than it did a decade ago.

With such statistics, we cannot afford to assume that a child who is sad, angry, irritable, withdrawn or sleeping too much is normal.

Also, we can’t ignore the constant stories we see in the media about children who have harmed others or committed suicide.


If you pick up these signs in your children for a prolonged period, say more than two weeks, it could be they are depressed. Talk to them and convince them to open up.

When they do open up, avoid downplaying their feelings. It could make the situation worse, leading to suicidal thoughts or other equally destructive actions.

Don’t be afraid to seek the help of a professional counsellor or therapist if you feel that your child is depressed or having challenges coping with life.


If you are a working mother, feel confident about your decision to be a career mum. Love what you do and do it to the best of your ability. But even so, remember to mind the effect your significant absence will have on your children.

Whatever a child believes in their early stages of life will mostly become part of their life as they move into adulthood. Keep this in mind as a mother and help your children build positive character traits.

Your turn…

Is there a crucial disadvantage we’ve left out? Let us know in the Comments.

Selipha Kihagi is a content writer, freelance writer and digital marketer living in Nairobi, Kenya. She spends her days creating blog posts and articles for the purpose of informing, entertaining, educating and inspiring action. She believes that the written word is an important tool towards effecting change in the world. If you share this belief, find her on LinkedIn for a personal interaction.
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Top 5 challenges working mums face and how to overcome them

working mums

In the previous article, we explored whether you can have it all as a working mum. In this article, we’ll be looking at common challenges working mums face and the solutions to each.

This is the second article in a series on working mums. Here are the other articles in the series:
Is it possible for working mums to have work-life balance?

As the fight for equal rights for women in the workplace continues around the world, working mums remain the most affected lot. You face the daily pressure of raising children, taking care of the home, and becoming a high performer at work.

Due to these responsibilities, working mums end up being discriminated during promotions, awarding tenders, higher salaries and new career opportunities. Basically, being a mother becomes an unnecessary professional risk.

And according to a recent international study on working mothers, only 12% of people believe that mothers should work full-time. The rest think that mothers should work part-time or not work at all.

This issue of public opinion and judgement is just one among the many challenges working mums have to deal with.

Related Article: How to Create Time for Yourself 

5 challenges working mums face and what to do

1. Work-life balance

One of the biggest challenges among people in the workforce today is achieving a balance between work and life. You want to be your best at work and still have time for yourself and your family.

As you are one person, being at work and showing up for your family becomes impossible. You have to pick a side now and then, a decision that will always disappoint one party.

Because you love your job and don’t want to lose it, the family tends to take more hits. You miss your child’s sports day for a work trip. A birthday is forgotten due to a demanding project. Family time is reduced to a few hours spread throughout the week.


  • While 100% work-life balance is not possible to achieve, you can have some control when you focus on the most important aspects of your life. For example, you can consider quality over quantity when deciding which event to attend or miss.
  • If your absence will cause a negative ripple effect in your family, make it a must to attend the event or spend time with your family. And please don’t try to follow other people’s rules when making choices. What is important will always vary from one person to another.
  • When you do evaluate your priorities, you’ll be surprised to find that not all work-related meetings or projects need you. Sometimes all you need is to delegate some tasks or roles. Other times, you may find that you’ve taken up other people’s slack at the expense of your family.

Related Article: 5 Steps to Get Unstuck and Live Your Dream Life

2. Going back to work after having a baby

This is another nightmare for many working mums. With only 3 months of maternity leave provided for by the government, you have to rely on the goodness of your boss for an extended leave. And, if you love your job and are not used to being away, you’ll constantly be stressing over work.

No matter your greatest worry – whether work or baby – the reality is the same: going back to work after having a baby will not be the same.

You will be judged for leaving your baby with the nanny. You’ll be overlooked for big projects. Many people will expect you to fail at doing your job. Others will expect you to fail at being a mum. Sadly, the pressure to excel will be twice as much in many cases.


  • To get through this period unscathed, focus more on your mental health now than ever before. Understand that it’s natural to worry about your baby. Learn to ignore judgemental looks and comments in the office and be OK with the frustration that comes with having to express milk when you go back to work.
  • At all times, allow yourself to go through the emotions that go with being a new mum who is not with her baby full-time. Don’t let people’s negative comments or ideas get the best of you.
  • Get support within and outside the workplace. Talk to other working mothers about their experience, join groups that allow you to vent, and read every material you can about surviving the getting back to work period.

Related Article: How to Handle Difficult People and Reduce Stress

3. High expectations to be superwoman

As a working mum, some people will expect you to be superwoman. Because you are already judged for choosing work over raising your kids full-time, tending to your child is no longer an excuse. And yet, sometimes you can’t avoid it.

After some time, your boss will expect you to take random business trips like you did before getting your baby. Your lunch hours will shift back to normal like everyone else, even though you need to breastfeed, express milk and run to your child’s school. Some of your clients will not understand that a child’s emergency or event takes precedence over the client’s work.

If you have a partner who expects you to take care of him, the family, and your job the same way that you did before, then you’re in trouble.


  • See high expectations for what they are – high expectations (or demands) and not reality. Don’t beat yourself up for needing time to manage these expectations or demands. And, if you need more time with your child, consider negotiating flexible working hours.
  • You can also ask for telecommuting if this option works for your type of work. Other mothers in your workplace will thank you for this! This is also a good option if your child is sick and needs your attention for a longer period. You can negotiate a better working arrangement or find a better employment opportunity that provides flexibility for mums.
  • Your personal relationship has a huge effect on your personal and career performance. Negotiate with your partner so that he takes up some roles or relaxes his expectations.

Related Article: How to Get What You Want in Your Relationship

4. Feeling guilty and constant overwhelm

Guilt is a constant for working mums. You feel that you are not giving your best at work, that you are not being a good mum, or that your child will grow to love the nanny more than you. This guilt becomes worse when your extended family parents or in-laws think you work too much or neglect your child(ren).

There is also the constant overwhelm and tiredness. This comes about when you try to do everything yourself. You drop your kids at school, work all day, cook dinner, iron yours and your spouse’s clothes, help your children with homework, and clean your bedroom and bathroom on weekends.

Remember that you’re not superwoman and being a supermama will not get you any accolades and rewards. It’s time to slow down, delegate, or drop some tasks.


  • To overcome this, understand that you are not perfect and that your children will love you no matter what. It’s OK if you miss a few events or come home late a few times.
  • It’s also okay to ask for help with house chores so you can create more time for family bonding. Hire someone to take care of housework. Also, consider adding an extra househelp if you can afford it so that your regular one doesn’t burn out.
  • Take time for your own self-care. This is a must and not an option, even if it means 10 minutes of ‘me-time’ when you at lunch time or when you get home.

Related Article: 5 Reasons Why You are Overworked and Overwhelmed

5. Constant reminders of your duties as a mum

You will be in your office and a colleague or client will start a conversation about your kids. If you recently had a baby, this is likely to affect you and you may get tempted to brush over it.

Also, if you missed an event in your child’s life to complete a strenuous project, this innocent (or not so innocent) inquiry about your kids may hurt you.

Other times, you may be the one that slacked off on work because of family related demands or crises. It’s not easy knowing that you are the one holding back your team, even though you’re trying hard to catch up with everyone.

It’s also not easy if you work in a high-stress or male-dominated profession or office. In some cases, your colleagues may end up sidelining you when they think that you can’t handle the work.

Working mums deal with this constant reminder every single day. Learn to be okay with all your decisions and choices and make no apologies about this.


  • When people talk about your children directly, acknowledge it and say something nice in return. Remember that this is not the time to pull out photos of your baby and manipulate the conversation!
  • You may feel guilty when you aren’t able to keep up with your colleagues. Acknowledge it if you are the one holding back a project and ask your colleagues for help. If you’ve made a habit of helping others when you’re able to, you will find them wanting to help you back.
  • Being a mum is no reason to stop your career growth. Work on your professional goals within the time you have. If this is not possible, then get back on track when your children are older and you have more time for work.
  • BONUS TIP: If you’re planning to have a baby in the near future, start helping out other mums in your organization without taking on too much of their work. These mums will be of great help when it’s your turn.

Related Article: How to Achieve Your Goals Effectively With 90-Day Goal Setting


As a working mum, you will face a lot of barriers in your life and career. You will be judged by both men and women. Men will not understand your struggles. Some women, especially single and older women who sacrificed family time for their careers will hold a different opinion to yours. You must be stronger than your challenges if you want to succeed.

What have been your biggest challenges as a working mum and how did you overcome them? Share your experience and tips in the Comments.

Selipha Kihagi is a content writer, freelance writer and digital marketer living in Nairobi, Kenya. She spends her days creating blog posts and articles for the purpose of informing, entertaining, educating and inspiring action. She believes that the written word is an important tool towards effecting change in the world. If you share this belief, find her on LinkedIn for a personal interaction.
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