I know, it’s hard to believe we are well into year 2 of this shit. Parents have reached a breaking point: my daycare sends my girls home what feels like every week due to a COVID exposure or 2+ more symptoms of COVID, I scramble to get them a test (spoiler alert: there are none) because at home tests aren’t accepted. Drive them around to get tested, plus all the general parenting leaves little time for the job I actually get paid to do. Something’s got to give at some point: this survival mode status we are in seems oddly familiar to a year ago. But we have a year’s worth of experience to lean on.
Some Tips to Cope, From One Working Mama:
1 - Netflix is your parent now. You can’t be the perfect parent, and stop following that friend on Facebook who seems to be. She has a different life, different circumstances than you. These times are not for judgement. Bring on the screentime when you need a break, veggie pouches when you can’t bring yourself to cook a fresh meal (they won’t eat it anyway), and do whatever else you need to do to survive quarantine #4. This is not forever, and you need to take those breaks when you can.
2 - Lean on your support system. I would start with your partner first: the other day, I flipped out and told my husband it was HIS turn to take a day off of work (he works out of the home, I work from home so childcare duties fall to me). Things were building up at work and I couldn’t take it anymore. He did it. Our partners want to help, we don’t need to take everything on. Then look outside your home: do the grandparents want to take your kids for a sleepover? Is your neighbor home from college break and can watch the kids while you work? Ideally everyone is testing and it is safe, but ask some one for help and take the damn break already.
3 - Time for you. Which brings me to my last point: it may sound like something falling off your priority list, but look back at what brings you joy and fills your cup. Yes you can’t go to that exercise class or can’t necessarily go to the office and meet up for drinks with your coworkers right now, but what hobbies do you have? What can you create? How can you move your body? I try to take on-demand barre workouts during the week (the kids join in if they are home), read before bed and crochet in those precious nap time moments or on a weekend when he kids are occupied. Having that time brings me back to my family renewed. And while work may not always feel “renewing,” I like to work. I like the challenge and my identity is not just “mom.” I worked before kids and I’ll be damned if I stop working all together after them.
Conclusion: Hang in there, MamaI hope living through this makes us come out as stronger parents on the other end. We’ve lived through the worst and will make the most of the remaining years of our kids’ childhood. I’m looking forward to the travel and vacations we will take one day, ideally someplace warm. In the meantime, I’m taking it one day at a time. Things that used to stress me out at work pale into comparison to the daily stress the pandemic has dished out - and I’m taking it as a valuable change in perspective. For you, working mom, I hope you will hang in there. Do whatever you can to keep that job, keep advancing in your career, and investing in yourself and your ambitions. Don’t give up: we already know we are superheroes, but let’s really show the world what moms are made of.
While one could argue Mom is always a pillar in her family, we are heading into the throes of what I consider to be the throes of “Mom as the Pillar” season. You know, the time where moms have to rise to the occasion, create the magic and be all the things: the family backbone, the nurturer, (if you are a working mom) provider, mediator, etc. The holidays often challenge us to step into all of these roles as best we can, even though it may be outside our comfort zone. But come January, we often learn how capable we are.
There are a few things I wanted to highlight that I hope you consider as we head into November:
In this last 8 weeks or so of the year, jot down some personal and professional thoughts - these may make some good fodder for those fast-approaching New Year’s resolutions:
I wanted to share a story of a friend of mine who I could tell was really struggling at work. By struggling, I mean she was livid. She had so many ideas, would voice concerns, and was met with silence or told that her ideas were not a priority for the company at that time.
I'm no career coach, but as a friend I remember us grabbing a drink and talking through everything that was going on, her frustration palpable. I recommended she do the following things - and if you find yourself in a similar situation, I recommend you do the same.:
1. Document your ideas. What do you wish your company was doing today that it is not? What ideas you have, or strategy components you wish they would listen to? Write it down. This helps get clarity around your personal talk track, and crystalize proof points in your mind so you can rattle them off later.
2. Sketch out what an ideal job looks like. Take a step back from what you are doing today. What parts of your job do you like? What do you dislike? What would you be SO happy doing all day, every day? Combine this section with your ideas listed prior.
3. Invest time in building your personal brand. Talk about your ideas! Just because you are working at a company, doesn't mean you have to operate in a silos. Use platforms like personal blogs, or LinkedIn to write articles about your ideas. This will force you to further sharpen your ideas, not to mention market yourself and your expertise to the world as well as give reading material to potential employers that may want to hire you one day.
4. Have "the talk". Personally, I'm of the belief that you should be straight with your employer, which may be your boss / manager. Talk to them about your pain points, where you are frustrated or blocked, and share what you want to be doing. More often then not, they may have no idea and be happy for you to pursue your areas of interest or be willing to listen to your ideas. And if they are not, you now have that knowledge - and a fairly clear conscience - as you proceed to step 5.
5. Make the decision. You've put it all out there, communicated that you are unhappy and may or may not like the answers that you get. Will more money make you stay? Did you ask for it, or did they offer it? If no, is it time to start looking around at roles at other companies that match your ideal job sketch you drafted in step #2?
As for my friend? She is happily settled in at her new job, now 2 months later from when we first sat down at the bar. If this story resonates with you, I encourage you to take the above exercise and apply it to yourself. And if you do make the decision to jump, use this interviewing guide to keep your organized.
Life's too short to walk around so frustrated, and there are plenty of opportunities for hardworking people like yourself. Good luck!
I'm a motivated, self-starting marketer and working mom looking to make a difference in the world - one story at a time.
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