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15 Things Only Working Moms Would Understand

15 Things Only Working Moms Would Understand
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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

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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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