Let’s face the facts: being a working mother is exhausting and, oftentimes, completely defeating. Many women put their own career and life aspirations on hold to raise children, but very few of these ladies actually speak openly about the endless struggles they face on a daily basis. Here are the facts that you should know about the realities of working mothers and what you can do to help.
(Photo Credit: Katie Tegtmeyer/Flickr)
One woman’s life mission and business is to bring awareness to “the reality of life as a women in the twenty-first century” — meet Traci Bild, mother, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and blogger extraordinaire. Bild is the creator of the Get Your Girl Back movement, which addresses the real difficulties women still face in their everyday lives and, especially, their careers. In her Huffington Post article, Bild explains that these are the most common frustrations she hears from working women:
1. Sheer exhaustion
2. Intense pressure
3. Emotionally tired
4. Consumed by guilt
5. Unrecognizable to themselves
The intent behind Get Your Girl Back isn’t to encourage women to quit their day jobs, but rather be more open and honest about the struggles they face, because they’re definitely not alone. In Bild’s own words:
“Rather than acting like everything is okay, how about we start telling the truth about what’s really going on so we can come up with much-needed solutions — a.k.a. setting work parameters, hiring housekeepers without guilt, reducing after school commitments and so on. Yes, I’m talking about making tough decisions that improve your quality of life.”
Bild is on to something here. Women can continue to fight for equal pay and narrow/close the gender wage gap once and for all, however, the root of the problem will still remain — women have too much on their plate. According to the American Time Use Survey, “On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework — such as cleaning or doing laundry — compared with 49 percent of women. Forty-two percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 68 percent of women.”
Part of the problem stems from the fact that society places more household and child-rearing responsibilities on women versus men, because that’s just what was passed down generation to generation. However, more women are pursuing careers now than in any generation prior. In fact women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce now, but they are doing 60 percent of unpaid work (or household responsibility, including childcare) and earning less than men in their careers.
A study conducted by Harvard Business School that surveyed 25,000 HBS graduates from ages 26 – 67 found that, despite the male and female graduates having the same expectations for their personal and professional lives post-graduation, “their ability to realize [these expectations] has played out very different according to gender.” According to the study’s findings, women were much less satisfied with the outcome of their careers than men, due to “certain expectations regarding how couples will distribute career and family responsibilities.” One of the study’s participants, a female in her mid-30s, stated that this dilemma is perpetuated by “deep-rooted attitudes that a woman should be the primary caregiver, so it is ‘understood’ that her career may have to take a backseat for a while as similar male colleagues move ahead at a more rapid pace.”
As one female HBS alumni (and mother) indicated in the study, “I thought success would be combining career and family successfully at the same time. I thought I could scale back to part-time, and I’d ramp back up as the kids grew…[But my] industry offered few if any professional part-time positions.” This reality is what discourages women from speaking openly and honestly about the struggles of pursuing a thriving career while also raising children.
The struggle is real, ladies, so please don’t feel like you’re alone. It’s time women and men, alike, start following in Traci Bild’s footsteps and encouraging working mothers to be honest about the difficulties they face in their personal and professional lives. For starters, moms, let’s begin by asking for help when you need it, rather than letting the feelings of guilt or embarrassment get the best of you. Remember, it takes a village to raise a baby, so don’t expect to do this all on your own.
Lastly, moms of the world, it’s perfect fine (and actually empowering) to raise your hand and ask for help, because you’ll help pave the path for the millions of other women who want to raise their hands along with you.
Tell Us What You Think
What are some of the everyday struggles you face by being a working mother? Share your story with other working mothers in our community on Twitter who, quite possibly, are in the same exact boat you’re in.