If you’re on Instagram, you’ve probably heard of Thando Naves also known as, Modern Zulu Mom. Thando works as a learning and talent development manager in the financial services industry but is also founder of Modern Zulu Mom, an award winning parenting and lifestyle blog. She is a wife, mother of two, career woman and blogger and content creator.
Today on She Brigade the award winning blogger shares her story, in her own words. Her highs and lows as well as all that brought her to become the phenomenal woman she is today.
The last ten years have come with significant growth in my personal and professional life. I’ve overcome and achieved things that have blown my mind, more or less as much as I’ve faced challenges along the way.
The things and people that have had the most impact on me are my family and two children, my friendships, my corporate career and my passion-project (a parenting blog called Modern Zulu Mom). I find myself constantly juggling and interchanging between all these different ‘hats’ that I wear but given the choice, wouldn’t have it any other way. Being and doing different things keeps me excited about life and reminds me that I’m a bold and multifaceted woman. Juggling all these roles was also the inspiration for my blog and online community of moms who are doing-it-all.
I faced my biggest and most life-changing challenges in the early years of my son’s life – young motherhood, came with lots of sacrifices that I hadn’t quite anticipated. I put my post graduate studies on hold and focused all my energy on trying to excel at home and at work. Once I gained stability and confidence again, I managed to flourish in my career and study again. Rising above this gave me the guts and resilience to face all difficult situations head-on. I might not have worked as hard as I do, if it weren’t for the course my life took in my early twenties.
This journey taught me the importance of giving oneself the space to make mistakes and grow from them, no matter the discomfort.
Several fundamental lessons have stood out for me along the way:
About Life and career:
- Make time for the things you’re passionate about – you might not be in your dream job yet, but you can still make time to find fulfillment in other ways, by exploring and doing the things you love in your spare time or as a side hustle. This is how my blog was born three years ago and I’ve been fortunate to go on to win an award for it. It gives me an outlet to express myself creatively and a channel to connect with other women. I wouldn’t have achieved this, if I made excuses along the way. While you wait for your harvest, do what you can, with what you have.
While you wait for your harvest, do what you can, with what you have.
- Make time for yourself – as woman we are particularly good at taking care of everyone else, sometimes at the expense of taking care of ourselves. Give yourself the time, space and empathy that you are so good at giving others.
- Go “offline” now and then – switching off and disconnecting from the digital world will allow you to find your own voice, outside of all the ‘noise’ and content we consume online. It’s very easy to lose time and track of your OWN goals, while you are distracted by others online.
- Engage deeply with other woman and bring the younger ones along – we have so much to learn from each other and I don’t think we leverage off that, as well as our male counterparts do. Don’t be afraid to network and reach out to other women – and make yourself approachable for others . I believe that we also have the ‘responsibility’ to impart our knowledge to groom younger girls, as we grow. I love mentoring and coaching young women from my hood, Soweto, and my future plans include expanding on this.
- Be willing to be flexible – not everything will go your way, all the time. Put plans and goals in place, but be agile and willing to “go with the flow” when life requires this of you. Being set in your ways will bring frustrations and limit your ability to learn from your mistakes.
- Drop the mom-guilt – something that’s easier said than done (I myself don’t get it right after 10 years in the game). Give yourself permission to be more than just a mom – your children need a well-rounded, fulfilled parent.
- None of us have it all figured out – drop the desire to be the “perfect” mom, because that doesn’t exist. I may have an almost 10-year-old but I still make mistakes and wrong decisions. Motherhood can be lonely so it’s important to surround yourself with a solid support system. You are probably doing 100% better than you give yourself the credit for.
At times it may seem like I’m doing “too much”, but that’s simply who I am and I made a decision to fully embrace this about myself.
Keep stepping forward, stretching yourself and growing through what you go through.