I feel like I have always had this mom energy: from being the oldest of three growing up to actually physically having kids of my own. When I think about what my personal mission is and what I am most passionate about, it is really about empowering women - particularly working moms.
Women have left the workplace in droves, with the "Great Resignation" showing us the lowest level of female employment since the 1980s. As someone who was made in the 80s, this number is horrifying. A large solution to this problem is childcare: we need to do better (no, not you mom. The support system around you. You are doing great.)
I have been there, and know how hard it is to do everything by yourself. With every struggle, I am optimistic about the solution. I think our mom rage is at a breaking point where society is just about to stop calling us heroes, and will start to do something about it. Some promising ways:
I was listening to an episode of “Redefining HR,” recently, where a guest on that show from a company called Tend Lab said something like, other countries have support systems for families and children, and the US has women. That struck a cord with me, because I feel like through empowerment and showing up and speaking up, whether its at our companies or running for office, we can drive real change.
Let's be the generation that makes tomorrow better for our daughters.
Full disclosure, I am not a therapist or have qualities to cure issues like burnout, but having experienced it, I thought it could be helpful to write about. I think it's safe to say we have all heard about burnout in some way, especially in the pandemic. Though I definitely felt I was "burning out" at my job prior to COVID as a working mom, I would describe the last two years (2020-2022) as living in the time of burnout.
What is it? The official definition of burnout is emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by a prolonged period of stress. There are also different types of burnout, too:
What does it Look Like? For me, I had to identify what it was I was feeling. There was a loss of motivation, feeling trapped or defeated, sense of failure and self-doubt, decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. I also experienced increased cynical and a negative outlook. Some more physical symptoms were chronic fatigue and insomnia, fueled by anxiety.
What to do? Talk about it. Isolating yourself with these struggles only fuels the sense of helplessness. Here are some ways that I dug myself out of burn out, and still apply today when I feel the symptoms creeping back in:
We have all been through the impossible these last few years: communication and connection are ways to realign. The first step is identifying the problem, then you can start enacting ways to change it. And don't be afraid to seek out help when you need it - from your manager, your partner, or even a therapist. Then we can go back to kicking that ass.
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.
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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