As promised, Part II of this “Working Moms” series is a guest post by a freelance writer for Healthline. In Part I of this series (click here to catch up if you missed the first installment), I analyzed how the toll that just two weeks back at work wreaked on me emotionally and physically. And, I know I am not alone. Matter of fact, based on interest and need, I believe this series may continue off and on in the coming days and weeks. Please contribute your ideas and thoughts on the issue!
Parenthood is no walk in the park – certainly not when you are also balancing the professional world and its demands. As a mom, sometimes the burden can be even heavier, as you deal with the guilt of leaving your baby/child/children in the care of another.
So, without further ado…
3 Never-Break ‘em Rules of Working Mom-hood
By Leslie Vandever
A consensus of moms would most likely reveal that the number one thing that all working moms need is time. They need more time to spend with their kids. More time to share with their significant other. More time for everyday chores. More time for healthy meals. More time to stop everything for a while and just breathe. More time to care for themselves and—perhaps the most important, more time for rest.
According to a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll, “the average woman aged 30-60 sleeps only six hours and forty-one minutes during the workweek.” The NSF states that most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to function well the next day. Based on these numbers, it could be hypothesized that working mothers are clearly on the low end of average and/or running on a sleep deficit most of the time.
But, the reality is that we only have 24 hours days to work with. A quarter to a third of those hours each day we allot to sleep—and thank goodness for that, because without some shut-eye, we’d be useless the rest of the time. Sixteen to eighteen hours are then left each day to accomplish everything else. As working parents, we often spend at least half of those hours earning a living. Most of us use up an hour a day commuting. Then we spend another hour or so on family errands such as grocery shopping.
When one does the math, we then only have five to seven hours for everything else: caring for and playing with the kids, taking them to after-school sports and activities, helping with homework, managing meals, doing household chores, and supervising baths and story-time and tuck-ins.
It’s no wonder that life can become an endless, blurred slog for working moms. No wonder we often feel inadequate both on the job and as loving mommies and companions at home. Where’s the sense of fulfillment and of pride in our ability to do it all and do it all well that we long for and strive for?
The Working Mom’s Never-Break ‘em Rules
Rule One: Be real. You may be the most loving, caring, self-sacrificing woman on Earth and the most competent, skilled, and professional woman the working world has ever seen, but you’re also—really—just one, small, imperfect human being. You need the same things that you’re so busy providing for everyone else in your life: love, comfort, compassion, service, food, play, and rest. And you deserve them just as much as they do.
Rule Two: If you have a significant other, someone who shares your life, your love, and your home, be sure to let them know when you need a hand, because frankly, you can’t do it all alone. Many of us have grown up with the monstrously unfair SuperMom Myth. Well, take a deep breath and toss that idiotic concept into the rubbish where it belongs. Work out a fair division of labor with the Love of Your Life—and your kids, if they’re old enough—so that you’re able to spend at least a little quality time on yourself. Every.Single.Day. This isn’t self-indulgent or selfish. It’s vital so you don’t burn yourself out.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among adults aged 18-44 years, women were nearly twice as likely as men (15.7% versus 8.7%) to often feel very tired or exhausted.
And if you’re doing this alone—if you’re a single working mom—then please, cut yourself some slack. There’s only so much you can do in a day. Don’t berate yourself if the dishes stay in the sink and the kids’ rooms are disaster areas. What matters most is that you take care of yourself, so you can take care of your kids. Life’s too precious to waste trying to be SuperMom.
Rule Three: Dump the guilt. If you have been a working mom for long, then you probably recognize the constant, niggly feeling that you’re not doing it right, you’re not doing nearly enough, and you’re sure not doing it as well as everyone else. That feeling is poisonous. Fight it.
Our culture has set impossibly high, artificial standards. In this fictitious perspective, we’re all, somehow, supposed to meet each standard every day – no matter what. But, they’re false standards. They’re bogus. You know deep down where you live what the true standards should be: give your kids, your partner, and yourself your love and your support without holding back. As the actress Meryl Streep once said, “Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.”
As working moms, choose to be okay with the essentials.
Working mom Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California where she writes for Healthline.com.
- Drexler, P. Our Gender, Ourselves. (2014, March 7) Psychology Today. Retrieved on June 19, 2014 from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/our-gender-ourselves/201403/women-the-verge-exhaustion
- Brooks, C. Working Women Still Do More Housework Than Men. (2012, June 28) Mother Nature Network. Retrieved on June 19, 2014 from http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/stories/working-women-still-do-more-housework-than-men#
- Women and Sleep. (n.d.) National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved on June 19, 2014 from http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/women-and-sleep
- Breadwinner Moms. Wang, W. et al. Breadwinner Moms. (2013, May 29) Retrieved on June 19, 2014 from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/29/breadwinner-moms/
- QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Who Often Felt Very Tired or Exhausted in the Past 3 Months, by Sex and Age Group – National Health Interview Survey, United States, 2010-2011. (2013, April 12) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on June 19, 2014 from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6214a5.htm?s_cid=mm6214a5_w
- Mom Quotes. Retrieved on June 19, 2014 from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_mom2.html