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What Working Mothers Want To Say For So Long

What Working Mothers Want To Say For So Long

I am a working mother. I get up in the mornings, I get my children ready and then I send them off to daycare while I try to head off to the office to get a paycheck. I think you should know some things that all working mothers have wanted to tell you.

1. There are times I look forward to going to work.

I know that goes against everything I am supposed to feel as a mom. However when they are being little pukes and I drop them off at daycare, it’s hard not to peel out of the driveway. I mean come on; they just fought for 30 minutes about who is looking at whom first. Sure sometimes I attend meetings that could have been better suited to an email, but I never have to referee the meetings for potential who started it.

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2. I get jealous of stay at home moms.

What? But you just said that you look forward to getting away sometimes… Yeah, but the grass is always greener. You know that. The days that I get to stay home with my children are usually due to sickness or unforeseen circumstances. We are never at our best in those times. That means it doesn’t exactly end up being Hallmark material. I get home tired from work. Sometimes I am short with them, and it’s not even their fault.

3. I don’t know how to do everything that is on my plate.

I know I’m supposed to be able to work, clean, cook, and mom. I fall very short in the cleaning category. I have a husband that cooks. When people talk about having it all I don’t know what that means. I don’t really want to do all those things. I want to play make believe. I want to read books.

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4. Sundays I make a point to not get out of my pajamas if possible.

If I have to get dressed and show up to work for “the man” every day during the week and have fun on Saturdays- then I reserve Sunday to be a pile. I’m not sure why, but I think I need to get that off my chest. Some Sundays my husband takes the kids and I get to sit by myself. I feel guilty for that time because I don’t get enough time with my kids. I also don’t get enough time with myself. I’m not saying that a stay at home mom gets any more time to herself either. I would assume that there are demands of others whether it be work or the kids.

5. I cry on my way to work after long weekends spent with my kids.

I miss them. I am scared that I won’t have enough time, and I know they grow up too fast. I worry that they will remember daycare more than they will remember their mom. Yes, sometimes those salty tears are set to the Tinkerbell soundtracks or with other Disney songs that all of the sudden seem so poignant to my situation. How do they know just the right words?

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I’m not sure if any of these revelations are particularly mind blowing. Well, I take that back. Let’s look at number four again, the Sunday one is pretty life changing. If I were you, I’d totally adopt that one. Whether you work or stay home. Heck, whether you have kids or not- that is something I recommend doing.

Is this pretty consistent with how you feel if you are a working mom? I don’t talk to a lot other moms about this subject. What about stay at home moms? Are these points something you can relate to?

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Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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