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Why Being a Mom is like Having Several Jobs at the Same Time

Why Being a Mom is like Having Several Jobs at the Same Time

Being a mom isn’t just a job- it’s like working for multiple employers at once!

Parenting is often likened to a job, with some calling it ‘the hardest job in the world.’ In reality, it’s even tougher than that. Here’s why being a mom is like working multiple, near-impossible jobs, at the same time. It’s no wonder the average mom is exhausted.

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The worries and responsibilities never end

The potential for parenting-related disasters are infinite. Nutritional intake, sleep, education, mental health, etc, are all things to worry about… and it continues for life. Even when your children are grown up, you never stop feeling responsible for their well-being.

As a parent, you are also responsible for teaching your children how to navigate the world around them. Everything from table manners to learning how to pick up social cues, are all things that need to be imparted. It’s a never-ending list. If you work full-time, arranging suitable childcare is another massive responsibility in and of itself.

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There are no days off

Even those working in busy full-time jobs get the occasional day off. This isn’t a possibility if you’re a mom. Even when you’re ill, the kids still need to be cared for, and the house still needs to be cleaned. You don’t even get the proper time to go to the bathroom; toddlers aren’t shy about barging in to demand playtime, or ask the first in an endless series of ‘why?’ questions. Moms are on-call day and night. Even if you go away on a kid-free vacation, you still keep your cellphone on just in case you need to race back home to an ailing child.

Multi-tasking is a must

From the day your baby comes home from the hospital, you will never be able to focus your attention on one job at a time. Even the routine tasks of everyday living such as going to the supermarket, becomes a mission in multi-tasking. A simple trip to the shops requires juggling a diaper bag, feeding supplies, toys, juice cartons, and more. You also have to contend with the possibility that your toddler may decide to stage a meltdown in the produce aisle, and know that it will be your job to calm them down when it happens.

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Your social life is never the same again, as you frequently end up combining hanging out with your friends, with looking after your child. It’s hard to pay attention to your friends’ news whilst changing a diaper or feeding your toddler their morning snack, but moms soon learn that they need to master the multi-tasking skill.

The demands never end

Moms are always in demand. Kids need constant supervision lest they ingest toxic substances, wander off, decide to play on the road, put their fingers in light sockets, or worse… the list goes on. Throughout this process children often produce an endless stream of questions. They are learning about the world around them, they are always trying to understand the ‘hows’, the ‘whens’, the ‘whys’, and the ‘whos’ of everyday life.

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Moms never sleep through the night

Like the busiest of executives, moms never really get a good night’s rest. Whether it’s a newborn keeping them up for all hours, toddlers coming into their bedrooms asking for a snack, or teenagers coming home late; nighttime is never peaceful again once you become a mom. In addition, the lack of sleep makes you feel fuzzy-headed and less productive during the day, which in turn, increases your stress levels, and further lowers your quality of sleep. All in all, it’s a vicious cycle.

It’s not surprising that moms get tired

The next time you feel overwhelmed by the demands of parenthood, remember just how much work you are taking on. Congratulate yourself for making it this far, and remind yourself that every day you are learning new skills that enable you to balance the heavy demands of parenthood.

Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

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Jay Hill

Freelance Writer

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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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