“Motherhood is sweet, but it can also be a wild journey. It was a role that I often found myself adjusting to situations and adapting at every turn. It’s a beautiful journey, but you can always be better prepared.”
Tomike Adeoye believes in being honest about the cons of motherhood, and we agree. A working mum often juggles two full-time jobs – running a business or working a 9-5 job, creating content, and caring for her husband and kids.
It’s a role that can be quite challenging in the first few years of motherhood and during peak holiday periods like Easter and Christmas. You have to ensure that all is set for the family to have a good time and that your KPIs at work are not left unattended. It can be a job that leaves one highly overwhelmed.
If you happen to be in these shoes, we know the struggles, and we see you, too.
To shed light on this balancing act, we spoke with Tomike Adeoye, a renowned YouTube content creator and entrepreneur, who shared her journey towards motherhood, the intertwined challenges of career and family life, and her strategies for finding harmony.
From helping new mothers carry their babies in church to babysitting her cousins, Tomike has always had a deep-rooted love for children. However, she didn’t want to be “old when having kids,” so she decided she must marry at a very specific age – 24.
According to Tomike, “I had checked the calendar and saw that I was to clock age 24 on August 24, which fell on a Saturday. That, to me, was the perfect day for a wedding.”
Luckily for Tomike, her wish came true! She met her boyfriend (now husband) in university, fell in love, and decided to get married after Tomike finished her National Youth Service Corps scheme (NYSC) at the age of—you guessed it—24!
A difficult transition into motherhood
The first few days and months after the wedding are usually the sweetest for young couples, and Tomike affirms this age-old belief with a chuckle. She told me they initially wanted to hold off on childbearing for six months but later changed it to a year to “enjoy her husband’s company.”
“We didn’t get to live together before the wedding, so it was a great bonding period for us,” she explained.
However, after a year, the sweet ‘honeymoon phase’ ended, and childbearing began. She later had her now-two-year-old daughter in 2021 and her son after that. She expressed her feelings about the difficult nature of the transition during her first pregnancy, stating that it was only possible with the help of her “strong-willed nature and support system [husband].”
“I am the type of person who, if I have set my mind to do something, must achieve it. There was no pressure for me to be a mom, as my husband didn’t impose many expectations on me. I was just myself, a young girl in love.”
After her first pregnancy, Tomike was “not herself.” Dealing with the after-effects of pregnancy was extremely tough for her—feeling tired of life, staring into space, nausea, and forgetfulness, amongst others.
It got so bad that people at home “avoided her” because of her low moods. It also affected her business, as she had not been as active since her first pregnancy. “If not for the help of my support system, the business would have crashed when I got pregnant,” she says.
But despite the inner struggles, Tomike decided to be intentional about her social presence. It was important to her not to lose relevance in her field and the minds of her clients. She kept on posting on her Instagram and YouTube, working on brand partnerships and “showing up and showing out” like the star girl that she is.
The power of sheer determination and a price for career in motherhood
“When there is a will, there’s a way” was the mantra for Tomike after her first pregnancy.
In a world quick to label, Tomike’s fight against the ‘mummy bracket’ was more than personal; it was a stand against a culture that often reduces women to singular roles.” She decided to be very intentional about her branding and how she presented herself in the public eye. She says, “I always emphasise that I am a ‘Gen Z’ who is forever young in spirit. This attitude has worked for me because brands don’t just call me for motherhood endorsements but for other youth-centric brand endorsements as well.”
But the next question is – how did Tomike make this work?
Tomike used various methods, from not having her kids in the same space with her during calls to alternating duties like picking up the kids from school with her husband.
I have always believed that just because I am a mum doesn’t mean that the whole world has to be constantly reminded that I am a mum. In this industry, people would use the ‘you-know-she-is-a-mum’ narrative to identify you, and this can affect the quality of offers you get.
However, she tells us that this life also has cons, as it sometimes makes the relationship with your kids suffer a little. She recalls a particularly painful instance:
“There was a Friday that my husband, who usually drops off and picks up the kids from school, had travelled, and it was my turn to pick my daughter up that Friday. To my surprise, as I reached the school, this child stood up in front of everyone, walked past me to the car I brought (which their dad always drives in), went straight to the door, and started asking for her ‘dada.’
This is the price a mother has to pay for her career because clearly, in this instance, she is accustomed to her dad picking her up from school and not me. She was not even excited to see me. She did not even greet me. Thankfully, the teachers understood it was just a child’s behaviour.”
Though the incident stung, Tomike chose to see it as a fleeting moment, a small part of a much larger, more fulfilling journey. She is content knowing that what she is doing today will pay off in the future, and it’s simply a matter of “finding that balance.”
These incidents are second nature for every working mum, and they reflect the silent sacrifices and emotional juggling acts inherent in the life of every working mother.
How to find the marriage between motherhood and career, according to Tomike
Be fully present on the days you are home
Tomike’s biggest tip for her was deciding to be “fully present” on days when she was at home. This could mean “taking a thorough sweep of the house, throwing out things we don’t need, cooking the meals myself, or stocking up the fridge.”
Outsource the work
Tomike mentions that her maids have been of great help when delivering on daily chores. But sometimes, they still have their ‘moments.’
“I even do the cleaning with them at times for them to get a sense of how I like my environment to be cleaned. That way, I am maintaining the house and supervising so that the house helps know how things should be done when I am not around,” she says.
Have a great support system
Having a great support system is one of the most essential rules for having an easy motherhood experience and a critical factor that Tomike emphasised. She is forever grateful that her husband filled this role for her.
“He checks up on me to see how I am doing; he checks on the kids when they are sleeping, when the nannies have gone to bed, etc. Amidst all that, he is still very supportive of my work, suggesting content ideas.”
Nonetheless, the support from her husband doesn’t make Tomike slack. She ensures that a parent is always on the ground. On days when Tomike’s husband is away, she makes sure to step up to the plate and take over his duties despite the possibility of clashing schedules. And even if you can’t be present physically, you can’t go wrong with placing cameras and monitors around the house for surveillance.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable, and don’t get overwhelmed.
“It’s great to be a ‘strong African woman,’ but you also have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and receive all the help you can get when necessary.” Tomike also highlights the possibility of wanting to do it all as a mom and, in the process, getting overwhelmed and not asking for help. For her, she would never want to lose her fun, youthful self in motherhood, and other women shouldn’t either.
How Tomike helps other mums find the balance
Tomike is slowly but surely finding balance. She uses her lived experiences as a mother to help other moms find harmony in their daily lives. She does this through interviews (like this one) to help other women have a more ‘authentic and relatable’ view of motherhood.
Tomike also uses her YouTube channel as a safe haven for other young mothers. She explains:
“After my pregnancy, I was surprised that no one was sharing the full details of the process, and I decided to do this more intentionally with my channel. My audience is at least aware of the pros and cons of motherhood and how it went down for me. Through this, I have been able to hold the hands of several young women (and mothers) around the world, and it has been nothing short of amazing.”
In her efforts to help mothers find balance, she doesn’t just help average women but also the vulnerable and underprivileged. This is through charity work via her nonprofit, the Tomike Adeoye Foundation for widows and disadvantaged women at large. Every day in December 2022, she and her friends, through the foundation, gifted at least 3-4 market women with N50,000 and foodstuffs.
I didn’t post pictures due to the pregnancy (and I could post them anytime I liked), but it wasn’t a publicity drive. God sees my heart and the hearts of those who received these gifts too.
Tomike’s goals for 2024
I asked Tomike about her dreams, goals, and desires for the New Year 2024. She told me of her idea to have products, shows, and event launches, but she also explained that all the planning may not suffice if it’s not the will of God.
This resolve comes from the miracles God performed in her life after the birth of her second child, even when she had nothing figured out.
“Part of this also came from when I decided to serve God more intentionally with my platform and started this worship program. The testimonies from there have been numerous and extremely powerful.”
She ended by professing to “let go and let God, and allow His plans to be the master plan for my life.”
Additional tips from other mums
With women making up 52.1 per cent of the 80 million labour force in Nigeria, there have been calls for changes in labour laws to include women having more benefits. This includes months of maternal leave, work creches, and other benefits from their workplaces for a seamless motherhood-career intersection.
But while we wait for a positive policy change and the enforcement of maternity laws, there have been several simple suggestions and techniques on how to make life easier for a working mother. Some of them are:
- Waking up early to do household chores and take care of the kids, sometimes before 5 a.m.
- Bulk cooking and buying of foodstuffs at the beginning and end of the month.
- Enrolling younger kids in a foundational nursery or creche not far from your workplace while in the office.
- Involving your parents to help out with certain errands if they reside close to you.