I’ve been a full-time working mom for about 4 years now, and here’s what I can tell you – no working mom has it all together!
There are so many challenges that we face as a working mom. Some may seem trivial to outsiders, but they are by no means trivial, especially when a woman tries to be more than just a mom and a wife.
First, let’s talk about the challenges that a working mom faces:
1. Insufficient maternity leave
The maternity leave in the United States does not favor working moms. Most companies offer only about 8 weeks of maternity leave, and unpaid maternity leave makes it difficult for some moms to meet their monthly bills.
Due to financial stress, many moms opt to return to work earlier after giving birth, and it does not allow enough time for a mom to bond with her newborn.
2. Mom’s guilt is real
As a mom, I often think about how I’m “abandoning” my kids by sending them to daycare, or not spending enough time with them.
However, if I don’t work, we won’t be able to afford the lifestyle that we like as a family.
After work, I still need to prepare dinner for the family, and I’m often left with no time and energy to spend with my kids.
This is an everyday conflict – am I doing the right thing? It’s a difficult question, and I struggle with this everyday.
3. Missing a lot of firsts
As a mom, I would very much like to be there when my child take her first steps, or when she says her first words.
However, as a working mom, I have missed these milestones because my kids are in daycare.
4. Lack of robust routine
Prior to having kids, I thrived on a very robust routine.
But with kids, it is impossible to have a set routine everyday because they make it difficult. I would make plans to do certain things, but they always don’t go according to plans.
5. Lack of access to on-demand babysitters
It is so tough to balance work and personal life when you have kids. When they are sick, they can’t go to school, but you still have to work.
However, it’s very difficult to find someone at the last minute to babysit the kids so you can work. The right sitter needs to have the experience dealing with kids, and most importantly, she needs to be someone you trust, but this person is hard to come by.
A working mom is often left with no choice but to keep the kids home while she attempts to work from home. Let’s just say, this would be a very unproductive day for mom.
6. Difficulty prioritizing tasks
Between the PTA meeting and the board meeting at work, which one should a working mom pick?
It’s not an easy choice – I’m sure mom doesn’t want to miss the PTA meeting, but at the same time, how would it reflect on her if she chooses to skip the work meeting?
Having to choose between two priorities like these is very difficult, and it can definitely add to the struggles of a working mom.
7. Never-ending chores
Before I had kids, it was really easy to complete all the day-to-day tasks. After dinner, I would just wash the dishes. Once in a few days, I would do the laundry. And then there is also the weekly grocery runs.
After having kids, these simple tasks seem monumental now. There are 3 times as many dishes to do everyday. We now do laundry every day. Not to mention the toys strewn all around the house that need to be picked up.
The chores are never-ending!
8. Not having enough Me-Time
As a working mom, my schedule is filled to the minute from morning to late evening.
There is no time to take a break or even do a little self-care.
This is why a lot of working moms are burnt out because they don’t have time to take a breather.
So what do these struggles tell us about working moms?
Yes, working moms need a community!
These struggles that I’ve mentioned above do not mean that moms cannot be successful both at work and at home.
A mom just needs to redefine her relationship to work.
However, no matter her role at work, every working mom needs a community around her.
It really takes a village to raise kids.
For me, my village is my family, my friends, my neighbors and my amazing daycare teachers.
Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do it all. Well, I did try to do it all by myself, but I almost broke. So, I am here to tell you, there is power in having a community around you!
What are some ways that you can build your community as a working mom?
1. Connect with veteran moms at your workplace
Since they have been a mom for a long time, they have many tricks up their sleeves which you can learn and adopt as well. These moms know what really works when it comes to time management, project management, and where to look for babysitters when work calls at the last minute.
Consider picking their brains when you are pregnant so you can be prepared for what’s coming.
2. Talk to Human Resources at work
Chances are, they will have the answers to your questions related to maternity leave, paid leave, unpaid leave, location of lactation room etc. Human Resources can probably also tell you if there is a mom group at work that you can join.
3. Go to a local mom event and introduce yourself
The baby-and-me yoga classes are great for connecting with other new moms in the neighborhood.
If there are no local mom events, check out the local baby store or park where moms would be hanging around. Strike up casual conversations with these moms, then exchange numbers to arrange for a future playdate if you found someone you can relate to.
4. Join online mom groups
Even though these moms are not physically near you, they may be able to answer your questions related to babies and kids.
For me, making working mom friends has been really important, both to my sanity and to my education as a parent. I remember doubting myself as a new parent, but these fellow working moms assured me that I was doing nothing wrong and gave me valuable tips on how to function as a new mom
5. Don’t forget your professional organization
If you are a lawyer, perhaps there is a bar association that you can join? These associations often have a subgroup for working parents. Have lunch with one of the members to find out what they do and how you can benefit from it.
Finally, if you’re a working mom, here’s another tip for you – life is hard, but remember that you’re not alone! Find your village, and take time to pause and take care of yourself so you can be your best self for your kids and family.
What are some other things that a working mom can do to build her community? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!