Actress Essence Atkins, lifestyle blogger Mattie James and mommy blogger Shanicia Boswell took the stage to share how they manage motherhood and being a boss. For all three women, it’s less about “balance” and more about reprioritizing when the time calls for it.

“If I’m killing it at work and with my kids, sometimes that means I’m being a trash wife,” James said. In that case, it’s all about forgiving yourself and trying again, knowing you can’t do it all at once. “It’s also about accountability,” Atkins said. “We don’t want to be in victim mode. It’s about taking accountability for setting boundaries and saying, ‘No,’ so you’re not depleted.’” 

Setting those boundaries and reprioritizing when need be are ways that they practice self-care. When balls are being dropped and you find yourself disappointed in your production or progress, ask, “Where did I not draw the proper boundary?” Atkins said.

“Discipline is also self-care,” James said. We can often think about self-care as indulging in something good, but, “indulging can’t be the only part of self-care,” James said. “Discipline is remembering what I want,” and then working towards that, she said. When she doesn’t operate in discipline, “I start to do everyone a disservice,” she said.

Atkins also shared about how guilty she felt as a mother of a four-year-old when she decided to divorce her husband. Now, Atkins, who considers herself a single woman with a child rather than a single mom, understands that “the healthier mommy was the better it was for my child,” she said. 

James also shared that she and her husband were on the brink of divorce and struggled with a lot of guilt. But because both she and her husband decided that they wanted to be married to each other, they decided to both take the necessary steps to readjust their lives and prioritize their marriage. That meant that James was working significantly less than before. “It doesn’t matter if you can handle business if you can’t handle home,” James and her husband decided.”We had to be explicitly honest about, do we want to be married? We had to overcome so much hurt, two miscarriages. It was a trauma that we had never dealt with. It was really hard work,” James said and her family is now stronger for it. 

What makes Atkins stronger is to stand in the boundaries that she’s set for herself, whether in work or her personal life. “I like to help people. It makes me feel good,” she said, “But the problem is if it’s not reciprocal. There’s no accountability, there’s no balance. It took me a long time to get out of the way, and I’m impeding the growth of others if I’m playing savior,” she realized. “I want to be a benefit and I want to be of service.”

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