Working from home sounded like a dream come true, before COVID-19 hit last February, and my kids started homeschooling/Zoom routine. According to Make It statistics, “ total number of women who have left the labor force since February 2020 to more than 2.3 million, and it puts women’s labor force participation rate at 57%, the lowest it’s been since 1988, according to NWLC”
The post will share my personal tips and tricks on how to survive the pandemic as a working mom.
Let go of your expectations
One of the hardest things to do for many of us is to let go of our own expectations on what it means to be a “good mom”. Early on last year, I tried to be all. I worked from home, tried to help kids with online schooling, housework, homework, attempted to serve snacks every two hours to everyone and on and on. All the craziness yielded a very cluster-headed and brunt-out mom. At the end of the day I had to look at my messy house, disorganized pantry, dirty refrigerator, take out dinner plates and say: I am enough. It still bothers me that I have laundry for days on end on my living room floor (true story!), but I learn to accept the reality that my expectations were unrealistic, and I simply can not do it all.
Align on priorities
Making a mental (short) list of what matters saved my sanity for the past 18 months. Here is was works:
- Meet with your manager, ask about 3 things/activities/deliverables that would add the most value to advancing organizational goals and your manager`s vision
- Align on the must-do for yourself at home and work, for me must do was: home-cooked meals, outdoor time with my son, and staying employed, without letting ym team down and getting fired
- Remember, we have no timeline on how long we need to go on like this, so make sure you set a sustainable pace. Nobody gets a medal for killing yourself at work/at home
Set boundaries at home and at work
Saying “no” has never been something that came easily to me, and I still struggle with being able to set boundaries. Sometimes my spouse, my kids, my director`s emergencies do drive me act not in my best interest. We all worry so muc, about becoming unemployed, about losing our career advancement opportunities, and being perceived as “not available.”
So, how do you set boundaries?
- Ask details before committing to more work, at home, and at work
- Ask yourself, do I really need to make a new meal today, can the family enjoy leftovers, can we grab take out tonight, and I get a break?
- Ask your manager, from five things I am working on and three I just got assigned, which two care critical to be completed this week/today?
- Ask yourself in the morning, what is my “quit time” today? Set that time, and stick with it.
- If you get paid for 8 hours, and you consistently work 9-10 hours every day, why would anyone think you need to work less?
- Say what you do, and do what you say. Respect yourself first.
Ask for help & delegate
Asking for help sucks. That is what I thought for years. I should be able to do everything without whining and asking for support. I am an independent woman who can do it all. Truth to be told, that is a highway straight into mental rehab! Nobody can do it all.
- Sit does with your family, discuss the chores that must be done each week
- Ask each family member what they can do to contribute: dishes, laundry, taking trush out, serving dinner, getting groceries with a list.
- Don’t let your pride get int eh way. Let go.
- There are a million things each woman does for her family that can and should be delegated to others. No, it does not make you weak, or terrible mom, and yes, it will keep your sanity
- Get organized, train your staff and do not criticize their work, offer praise, allowances for chores, and say thank you many time, show gratitude and they will help more.
- Promise. It will work, have patience, training your kids and spouse to help you will pay big.
Unplug and recharge
Are you checking your work emails, while standing at night in the kitchen before going to bed? Are you a person who sleeps with their cell phone, worried sick that you will miss something? Stop!
- Set limits when you unplug each day
- Stick with your promises to yourself, you need wi-fy and screen-free time, your mind needs to recharge and unplug
- Take shoes off, go outside, experience nature around you, recharge and connect with the outdoors again. Hike, walk, simply sit on your lawn, just be outside.
Connect and share
Keeping it all inside does no good to anyone. Women are talkers. Find your tribe, whether rit is another female co-worker, your sister, mom, or a dear friend. Connecting with others gives us energy, and sharing your feelings and what you are dealing with can reveal that millions of others struggle just like you are. No, you are not the worst mom for feeling overwhelmed and torn between the work you love, the job you need, and your kids, and the home you need to take care of.
- Do not do it alone; find the support you need.
- Open up and share your experience. Connect and heal.
- Seriously, being honest if the best therapy that is. It is ok to be imperfect.
Word of caution: do not get caught up feeling terrible and quitting your job. Hang on there, take breaks, set boundaries, take breaks, take care of yourself and things will improve, one day, one shift at the time. You got this!!!