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.
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.
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.
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.
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