Growing careers while raising babies is as challenging as it is beautiful. Every working mom has a unique story to tell. Balancing work, life, and everything in between is a little easier with the power of connection. My dream at Freshly Brewed Mama is to connect with working moms in all phases of their journey to embrace this season, and support the incredible work that moms do every day. It is a privilege to hear your story and share it with this community with a working mom interview.
I was blown away that I was able to connect with one of my writing idols! I’ve been following Becca’s writing and blog for working moms for several years. I always look forward to her wonderful advice and humorous perspective. She was willing to share her story of working motherhood in this working mom interview and connect with all of you in this community. Not only does she serve other moms with career coaching support, but she is also a published author of TWO books which we are fortunate to have on our shelves at home. Her words are inspiring, and it was an honor to be able to hear about her journey building her business while managing her role as mom! Check out her advice and experience as a working mom, and reach out to her with all your career questions!
Please tell us about yourself!
Hello and thanks for having me! I’m Becca Carnahan, mom of two, writer, and career coach from Massachusetts. I am the founder of Becca Carnahan Career Coaching & Communications where I specialize in helping women find more joy and fulfillment in their work. I also write and manage the working mom blog, With Love Becca, which helps women manage motherhood, manage careers, and manage to laugh through it all.
Before going off on my own, I worked at Harvard Business School for about 13 years in career and professional development. It’s a very hard place to leave so I still work there as a career coach and frequently write for their career blogs. During my time at Harvard, I also earned my master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
In addition to my career coaching work, I am also the author of Belinda Baloney Changes Her Mind, a fun and inspiring “when I grow up” children’s book and When Mommy Grows Up: A Guide to Parenting Yourself to a More Fulfilling Career.
What do you do for work, and what do you enjoy about your job?
Short story is I’m a career coach and writer. Long story is that I do those things in a number of different ways, which I love! Variety in my work keeps me motivated and engaged and that was something I was after when building my own business.
As a coach, I work with students and alumni at Harvard Business School, professionals in continuing education courses, and my private coaching clients who are generally folks in their 30s looking to make a change. Often, they are at an inflection point in their careers (having a child, returning to the workforce, wanting to start their own business) and need help finding clarity for their path, confidence to go for it, and a strategy that will get them there.
I LOVE coaching for a few reasons. 1) I’ve always been drawn to helper roles and I enjoy supporting people as they define success for themselves and go for it. 2) It’s a very flexible job that allows me to work at times that make sense for my schedule as a mom. And 3) I get to be so nosey! That’s a little tongue in cheek, but true. I love asking questions and getting to know what makes people tick. With all of that information we can then craft a plan that works specifically for them.
The nosey part ties into the second part of my job quite nicely actually. As a writer, I am regularly interviewing students and alumni of Harvard Business School to capture their career paths and write profiles about their experiences. I love listening to their stories and then putting the words together to share those stories with the world. I also write for my blog which gives me the creative space to write about career development and working parenthood in a fun and funny way. Humor is a big part of my life and I love that I can incorporate that into my business.
Then the books, oh the books! Writing and publishing a book is a trip, and I trip I want to take over and over. I was in such a flow state writing each one of my books and I get so much happiness from hearing about others bringing my words into their homes and lives.
Does your work look differently after entering motherhood, and what changes did you make to your career if any?
For sure! In so many ways. When my son was born six years ago, I went to a four day a week schedule at my Harvard Business School job. Then when my daughter was born a year later, I went back to full-time because #daycarebills. So those were little changes, but my kids inspired this big change in going out on my own too.
I knew that I wanted to be the one to put my kids on the bus in the morning and get them off the bus in the afternoon. That seems like a very specific thing, but I had a vision for how I wanted life to look like and that was it. However, I didn’t want to stop working so I decided to create something for myself with very flexible and work from home hours.
At the same time, I saw my kids exploring the world and becoming their own people. I missed doing that! So I did some deep reflection and leaned on the career coaches in my office to evaluate what I really loved to do and what I was good at. I took that information and started to craft an idea for my business. Fast forward to today, and I’m doing school drop off and pick up and have a thriving business doing work that makes me happy and fulfilled.
What parts of working motherhood do you love, and what parts are most challenging?
Lots to love, and lots of challenges and they overlap.
I’m an extroverted introvert – so I can totally hang at a party or networking event but then I shut down and need space. My kids like noise and action and if I’m being honest with myself, I can’t give that to them all day long because my tank would be totally empty. So as a working parent, I love that I can make money while recharging – sitting at my computer typing away. Then I’m ready to mom it up after school and camp. It’s the balance I need!
I also love that my kids get to see that work can be something you enjoy. When they grow up, I want them to find the work that lights them up and if they can see me doing that I think it will guide the way. I hope anyway!
Now the biggest challenge, keeping this house even remotely clean. In motherhood, something’s gotta give and that has been neatness around here. Real question though, why are the pillows always on the floor? AL-WAYS!
What is your best piece of advice for other working moms who may be struggling with working motherhood?
Oh friend, you are not alone. There’s mom guilt and mom shaming and mom comparing etc. etc. etc. There are time management tricks that help you get more done and self-care rituals that can help with mental well-being, but my biggest piece of advice really centers on finding work that you enjoy.
So much of my working mom guilt melted away (not all of it, but a lot!) when I left my full-time job with a long commute and took my own business full-time. I was excited about my work and passionate about helping people. There was a lot to love about my old job too, but now I am doing the type of work that gives me energy like 90% of the time. It’s hard to feel bad when you have that!
Take some time to reflect on what you truly want and need as a professional and a mother. Work through the career sweet spot exercise, read When Mommy Grows Up, take an online course – invest a little bit of time on you and know that going for what you want is actually going to benefit your kids too.
With all the things we balance as moms, where does mom guilt most often show up for you and how do you cope?
For me it’s not about working or organic vegetables, it’s about all the mistakes I’ll inevitably make as a parent. I feel guilty when I’m too hard on them, or not hard enough on them in order to help them grow. I feel guilty that I don’t know how to do this mom thing perfectly and am basically testing things out on them because I don’t know what’s going to work.
However, as my kids grows up, I’m growing up right there with them. They have never been five and six before, and I’ve never been a parent of a five- and six-year-old before. When I started vocalizing that I began feeling better about being human instead of a superhuman. It also made me realize that my parents are probably still growing up too which is quite a lightbulb moment! For as long as we’re here and trying new things, we’re learning, and that’s pretty cool.
What is one resource or success strategy that you could not be successful without?
Goal setting and time blocking!
My work hours aren’t 9am to 5pm anymore, which is by choice. So I have about 6 hours for a work day, which is still a lot of time, but I need to use each one of those 6 hours strategically. I set monthly goals for my business, sometimes related to coaching, sometimes related to writing, sometimes related to marketing. Then each Friday I set goals for the upcoming week so I stay on track with what I said I wanted to accomplish over the month.
From there, I time block on my calendar so that if a writing project needs to get done or a marketing plan needs to be created, I have basically have a meeting with myself scheduled to do it. It doesn’t *always* work out this way, but I try to cut off other distractions during that time so I can cross to-do items and goals off the list more efficiently.
It has to be said again though that none of this works perfectly, so being understanding with myself if I don’t hit a goal or allowing wiggle room with the goals as needed is important. Not hitting a goal doesn’t mean you weren’t trying super hard – it just means that life happens or maybe you need to try something different next time.
What makes you feel most fulfilled in motherhood at this point in your journey?
I love seeing my kids discover new things about themselves. Whether that is their ability to dribble a soccer ball, help a friend, write a song, or train the dog. Watching their faces light up as they learn and grow is magic. I’m so proud of them and all they have accomplished and all they are as people.
Also, I really love the big hugs! My littles are getting bigger every day so I’ll take every snuggle I can get.
How do you make time to take care of yourself and what does that look like for you?
My “self-care” routine isn’t much of a routine and it’s not very complicated. If I find myself getting cranky in the day, it’s because I stayed up too late. So, the next day I get to bed early and wake up early and it’s a good reset. I can’t tell you I get up every day at 5am and journal because I don’t! But when I need to reboot, I do get up early and write and it makes a world of difference.
As for exercise, I’m a walker. I’m not a jogger, I’m not a runner, I’m a walker. I can walk pretty fast though, and I read a study once that it is just as good for you and I don’t care if that study was in a grocery store tabloid, I’m sticking with it.
Also, occasionally I paint my nails and even brush my hair. Woo – self-care!!
How can people connect with you and support you in your work?
Well, this was fun! Thanks, again! You can find me at beccacarnahan.com which links over to my career coaching information, books, blog, and weekly newsletter. And you can also see me posting funny memes and attempting to make reels on Instagram at @with_love_becca. (Forget TikTok – I’m a geriatric millennial!)
If you want to connect for your own working mom story, email me here.
Until next time friend! Enjoy your brew and may your days be filled with all the beautiful things in this life.
All the best,