Five 30-something old career moms share what they wish they’d done differently in their 20s

Work-life balance and motherhood seem like two sides of the same coin, but sometimes it becomes hard to distinguish when you flip between both.

We opened our mailbox for five career mothers in their 30s to share their experiences, feelings and their ‘what ifs’ on their worklife and motherhood choices.

Finding that balance takes hard work and these women shared what they wish they knew and had done differently while in their 20s.

Scroll down to learn from their reality.

“I wish I’d had children earlier”

– Ewurabena, 37, Brand Agency Executive

My husband was my first boyfriend from my varsity days. I think I knew from the start that he was the man I was going to marry but I wasn’t ready for that commitment right after school. I wanted to live, to build my career, climb up the ladder and make a name for myself before having children. We dated some more after school and our 20s were fun. But as I look back now, I wish we’d married right after school and started a family then. I’m currently the regional marketing lead for my firm and I have 3 young children; 8, 6 and 1 years. It is overwhelming and affecting my job ability. My husband is supportive and tries his best but gosh, I wish these years were my years to assert myself. I’m seeing other women my age get marked up for promotions and although I have the accolades and skills my numbers aren’t as strong as theirs.

I wish I’d had my babies in my 20s when I was a junior staff. Not now that the stakes are higher.

“I wish I had started a business on the side”

– Ruby, 39, Banker

You can’t see the future but you definitely don’t foresee a Ghana banking crises. I used to work at one of the consolidated banks as a relationship manager to SMEs. I was on the up and up for a promotion. After the consolidation, that all changed. I am overlooked and overworked. Having to play office politics with new heads these past four years have been exhausting. I always teased the thought of starting a business on the side- something to fall back on. I wish I’d done that in my 20s when I was still energetic and not burnt out from career fatigue.

These days, I don’t even feel passionate about my work. I feel like I’m just a small piece of a big machine.

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“I wish I’d relocated in my 20s”

– Melissa, 35, Surgeon

I became a surgeon because I care. I still do but lately I don’t find myself eager to enter the operating room. I work for a public hospital, and the situation isn’t anything to write home about. There’s so much we lack and it makes saving lives almost impossible. It’s getting worse. Most of my colleagues left Ghana in their 20s and early 30s.

There’s an exodus of Ghanaian health workers, and I am not ashamed to admit I want to be part of them so bad. I’ve already started engaging a hospital in Australia and it looks hopeful. But I have family here. My husband runs a business here. Our children are young. How do I even tell him?

“I wouldn’t have put up with a lot of sh*t!”

– Khadija, 33, Insurance Broker

I started from the very bottom with insurance. From marketing out in the field, to teller, to executive and then to broker. Insurance is hard in Ghana, but I’m good at convincing people so I didn’t care for the stress. But now, I realize I shouldn’t have put up with a lot of trash in the work space. Abusive bosses, being slave driven and being under-appreciated. All in the name of playing the career game.

I am repositioning myself though. My work is being appreciated more and my efforts are largely towards bettering my relationship with my husband and daughter. I’m no longer putting my mental and physical health in jeopardy. Just wish I’d done this sooner. Better late than never.

“I’d have job-hopped more”

– Korkor, 37, IT Consultant

Whoever is reading this, please don’t stay at one job for more than 2 years. 3 years maximum. I wish I’d done this. Time goes by so fast you don’t realise it. I started work in IT for one of the biggest Telcos in Ghana (it’s the biggest, if you ask me) when I was 26. I had my son not long after, but his father isn’t in our lives. It hurt and was difficult at the start but I got over it, for my son’s sake.

But getting over it made me also get lax with my career development. I’ve been working where I am for 10 years plus and I feel like it has gotten remedial.

My resume is great and I believe I could work anywhere else but a part of me feels tied down. It’s not my work’s fault. It’s me. I want to but I can’t make the leap, especially since I’m a single mom. And I resent that.

I wish I’d tried other job opportunities when I was younger. Now I can’t even see myself working anywhere else, and that’s not what I envisioned for myself when I was in my 20s.

*Names have been changed, and answers slightly edited for clarity.

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