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15 Things Only Working Moms Would Understand

15 Things Only Working Moms Would Understand

Of course you know that the answer is paid family leave instead of unpaid maternity leave. That will solve some of problems for working moms. The ILO (International Labor Organization) in 2014 found that only 3 out of 185 states had no mandatory laws in force for paid family leave. Those 3 countries are Papua New Guinea, Oman and the USA. Now, while we wait for the impossible to happen, here are 15 things only working moms will understand, wherever they are.

1. You are not on stimulants.

Yes, you are the one who holds down the job, gets the kids ready, do a morning drop off, prepare dinner at the end of the day and then deal with mothering! Some people think you are on some stimulant medication but it’s not true. You just have incredible energy and everyone around you should be thankful.

2. You are not the perfect mom.

Working moms face exhaustion and they have to make compromises if they are to survive. You constantly worry about getting the balance right and whether your kids will be neglected, although you have promised not to make compromises as regards the actual time you have carved out for them. But you have decided that you cannot attend all the business dinners or all your kids’ school trips. You are getting better at making the right judgement call and you know that the perfectly clean and tidy home is no longer a top priority.

3. You value your time with the kids enormously.

Maybe you have heard all those criticisms about working moms not giving enough attention to their kids. But as they have to go to school anyway, why should you give up your career? Your time with your kids is precious and you really give it all you have got. There are no distractions during prime time and they are getting you 100%. You know how to make every moment count.

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4. You did not really have a choice.

You have heard them criticizing you about abandoning kids and family. But many people just do not realize what the statistics show. Look at the difference. If you stay at home, you are likely to be one of those 33% of moms who live in poverty. The number goes down to 12% for working moms. Which would you choose, if you actually got the chance?

5. You are not neglecting your kids.

Many super moms are “leaning in” to their jobs as described by Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Sandberg urges women to go for their career and not lean back.Pursuing your career goals does not mean that you are forgetting your kids. You can check their homework by email and even sing them a lullaby on Skype when it comes to the crunch. It does make the balancing act of coping with work and family demands really challenging, though.

6. You need time for yourself.

Every mother, whether at home or working, needs time away from her kids. Many employers wrongly assume that working moms are going to have problems because of their children and there will not be enough time for work and children. When one woman interviewee was asked how on earth she would find the time for both the job and kids, she replied, “Believe it or not, I like being away from my kids during the workday… just like you.”

7. You are benefiting your kids.

As you fill the washing machine with another load and attend to your kid’s tantrums, rest assured that your kids would not be at home all the time, if you happened to be a stay at home mom. They have to start kindergarten at some point. The fact is that once you have your kids in organized care and later in quality early education facilities, you are really doing them a favor. Research now shows that these kids are going to have better social skills and they are also more likely to benefit from improved learning.

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8. You are going to benefit from better mental health.

My mother is an excellent example of a woman who had three kids and was fighting severe post partum depression. She had been trained as a pharmacist and the local hospital asked her to fill in for three weeks. She stayed in this part time job for 33 years! She benefited enormously from the experience and it definitely helped her cope with her depression. She also enjoyed being part of the hospital team. Studies have found that working moms benefit from improved physical and mental health.

9. You are less likely to have spoiled kids.

When you are at work, kids have to take on some of the responsibilities of running the home as they get older. Teaching them to be responsible is a great way for them to reach self-sufficiency. They will also learn to teamwork with siblings although there will be lots of fights and arguments. If you are running out of ideas about how to organize chores and kids, there are some great ideas here.

10. You know that comparing yourself with stay at home moms is a waste of time.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Forget the comparison with the stay at home moms, especially the wonderful highlights they post on Facebook. They never update their status about the latest temper tantrums! You are living on a different planet so there is no point in these comparative studies. Utopian motherhood does not exist.

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11. You are happy.

In spite of crazy schedules, exhaustion and unending pressure, you know that you are happy doing your balancing act. This is what you want and you are happy that your job provides relief, financial stability in your family and a rewarding career. This is what makes it all worthwhile.

12. You have great support.

Of course, you cannot do it all single-handed. You are lucky in having the family circle and your partner to help with all the co-parenting and the transportation. You have also learned how to be better organized. You know a few nice life hacks such as keeping your bathrobe on over your clothes until you are ready to leave the house and making better use of timers for various tasks. If you need some more ideas, there are some useful ones here.

13. You are helping to get equal rights for women at work.

You hear the remarks all the time about whether they should sack another female before they get pregnant again. Then there are sexist attitudes and inequality about pay and promotion. Because you are hanging in there, you are making a great contribution to helping women get equal rights in the workplace. Long way to go as sexism permeates economic and social life at every level. The glass ceiling still remains unbroken.

14. You are going to make a great entrepreneur.

Did you know that the majority of female entrepreneurs are moms? One poll puts the estimate at 95%! Jill Salzman in her TED talk outlines why moms make the best entrepreneurs. Her mom helped her when she was 16 years old to get into a press event full of rock stars. Just an example of how a mom makes it up all the time, at home and at work. You can watch this inspiring video here.

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15. You look forward to greater flexibility.

“It’s almost like you get that glass ceiling: ‘We’re not going to promote you; we’re not going to allow you to develop because you’re not reliable” – Sam Kassam-Macfie, working mother

You still hope that workplace may become more family friendly. There is still not enough flexibility in allowing moms to work from home or to have a much more flexible schedule to fit family demands. This will prevent working moms from deserting the work force which is a loss to society. More go ahead companies are now encouraging more mothers to return to the work place after their maternity leave by providing refreshing skills courses and also job sharing when feasible.

It may take another generation but with more support from governments, companies and society, working moms will have it much easier. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait until the next century!

Featured photo credit: work work work/Nina Hale via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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