Putting Family First is Not a Professional Disadvantage

Life is not about what is simple. Life is not about what is easy. Life is instead about what happens between the simplicity, when you are tested and challenged. When you question everything you thought to be true. When you question whether or not you are worthy of the graces that surround you.

I have many blessings in my life. A family I love and cherish. A passion for writing that keeps me feeling fulfilled and special. Friends who make me laugh and keep me grounded, even if we don’t see each other as much as I would like. A husband who knows how to push my buttons, yet can melt me with a single look. Children who are healthy and smart and amazingly funny.

So why want more? Why ask for something else? Why have the drive to create more? More work, more responsibility, more stress…

For me, it’s not because I want it all – I gave up on this fallacy a long time ago. It’s because I know I have more to give. More of my heart and more of my mind.

I struggled for a long time, thinking about what I was going “to do” with my life. I’ve owned and operated a home-based daycare for nearly 10 years. I chose to do this after my second son was born. I couldn’t bear not to be home with him, but I needed to make an income. This decision, while scary, made perfect sense at the time. It was a means to an end. And I discovered I was good at caring for and teaching little ones. I love caring for other people’s children as much as being with my own kids. I enjoy being welcomed into their secret society. I have witnessed so many moments. Moments that parents trust me to share.

But, after many years I started to secretly long for that elusive more. More to push me. More to help me discover how I can help others. I had an idea to create a place where parents are given the support and space they need to discover their more. A place where children are cared for and entertained in one room while their parents have time to focus on their work and grow their dreams for themselves. A place that feels like a second home, not a sterile office environment. A safe and supportive community for the entire family. I can see this vision as clearly as I can see anything else. It is what I wake up thinking about, but it took a long time before I started to pursue this dream.

A little voice of doubt cast a shadow on my vision. Who are you to pursue such a thing? You aren’t smart enough. You aren’t savvy enough. You’ve been out of a traditional work environment for too long.

I believed that if I tried to go back to my field that I would need to start over. That I would be seen as a dinosaur… okay maybe just a Momosaur. I put my family first and I felt like this put me at a disadvantage. That somehow this was a negative blemish on my overall potential.

One day, I realized that these feelings are exactly why I need to do this.

Just because I put my family first doesn’t mean my dreams and pursuits are less. Just because I left the office and surrounded myself with everything infant, toddler and preschooler doesn’t mean I am not in touch with what it means to be a professional. Just because I am always a mother first, doesn’t mean that I am not committed to my work. Putting family first is not a professional disadvantage.

Motherhood doesn't make me less professional

And if this is true for me, I know it is true for many others.

What I am starting with my new business Play, Work or Dash is new and different. It is combining the ideas of many others and transforming them into what works for my community of fellow parents. What I am doing is not simple. It is difficult. It has a sharp learning curve. Right now I am pushing ahead and clinging to my mission. I have determination to see this through because I am choosing to believe in me and in all the other parents out there waiting for their more. Right now, life is happening in so many ways and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Are you searching for your more? Connect with me on my new Play, Work or Dash Facebook page as I push through traditional standards to create a new way to create work-life balance. If you live in the Washington DC area, you can set-up a tour beginning Dec. 21.


Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.




  1. Excellent article Nicole! Saying motherhood is a detriment to your professional life is like saying being an athlete is a detriment to your schooling. Balancing the needs of your family with your professional life forces one to be decisive, efficient, and delegate appropriately.
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