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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 October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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