If you’re a working mom, you already know how hard it can be to juggle priorities successfully. For starters, motherhood has launched you into a whole new dimension of exhaustion. You probably don’t even recognize your own reflection in the mirror anymore, and neither do your co-workers. The piles of dishes and laundry are starting to resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and every day you’re just hoping and praying that no one stops by unexpectedly. You’re not completely sure when the last time you showered was – but who cares, because everyone’s alive and fed, right? This survival mentality is all too common for working moms, and it usually results in them feeling defeated, stressed to the max, and completely exhausted – which isn’t a great combination for anyone’s career or well-being. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s what moms need in order to have the lives and careers they deserve.
(Photo Credit: Rikard Elofsson/Flickr)
1. Equal Pay for Equal Work
No matter how you look at it, women earn less than men. If working moms aren’t earning equal pay for equal work, then how in the heck do we ever expect them to feel empowered on any level? Last time I checked, being undervalued and underpaid isn’t the greatest for building confidence, let alone a promising career. Therefore, in order for women to begin to feel more empowered in their careers, they need to feel valued, and that means women need to get paid fairly for the work that they put in.
2. Paid Family Leave
The U.S. is one of the few industrialized nations in the world that doesn’t guaranteed paid maternity leave for its working mothers. Thankfully, the issue of paid maternity leave has gained more traction lately and more companies are beginning to offer employees paid leave options to ease the transition of having a newborn. Sadly, however, many mothers still don’t have the luxury of paid leave, so they are forced to return back to work earlier than expected to make ends meet. In fact, one in four women will return back to work just two weeks after giving birth. It’s a sad reality when working mothers have to decide between a career and a family, because today’s working world makes it extremely difficult to have both.
3. Flexible Schedules
When a child falls ill, has a doctor’s appointment, or needs to be picked up, guess who is the one putting her work on hold to tend to her child’s needs? You guessed it: mom. This is why the conventional 9-to-5 schedule simply does not work for a vast majority of working mothers, and many of them end up stressed out and angry that they are the ones taking care of the bulk of the personal errands in the family.
Flexible schedules are wonderful for working parents because they allow them to have their cake and eat it to (well, most of the time). Parents with flexible schedules have the ability to cram most, if not all, of their work into a shorter window of time, while still having the freedom and flexibility to take care of personal responsibilities (e.g. picking up the kids).
4. Shared Responsibilities in the Household
It’s estimated that moms put in an hour of physical childcare per day, while dads put in a mere 23 minutes. What’s more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women spend nearly an hour more per day than men doing household chores, which only adds to the gazillion things moms already have to take care of at work.
In many families, mothers are constantly putting the needs of others before their own needs. While dad gets to work out at the gym every morning and little Johnny gets to go to basketball practice every day, mom is busy getting meals prepped, laundry done, and cleaning the house, with barely enough time to feed herself and get ready for work. What working moms need is a helping hand in the house so that they can finally be a priority in the family, instead of being the forgotten ones.
5. More Support in the Workplace
Last, but not least, working mothers need more support from their co-workers and bosses in order to feel more empowered in their decision to pursue a family and a career simultaneously. In other words, when a parent needs to leave early to pick up their child, or has to stay home to care for a sick child, it’s important to remember that no one is getting a free pass to miss work, so try to refrain from slipping into the “Oh, must be nice…” mentality. Practice the Golden Rule at work and treat others the way that you would like to be treated.
Tell Us What You Think
Are you a working mother or father? Tell us what else you’d like to see in your everyday life that would help you feel more empowered in and out of the workplace. Share your thoughts with our community on Twitter, or leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.