As a Working Mom, I Need Some Support
Want mothers to stay in the workforce? Try this.
I’ve openly discussed how our society isn’t set up to support working moms. From the laughable non-existent maternity leave, to rigid schedules and minimal time-off policies, it’s often an uphill battle to balance a career and a family.
While I have a spouse, the slated pay has set me up to be the primary parent. I do all the doctor’s appointments and sick days simply because my job is lower on the pay grade. Am I resentful? A little bit.
But I also feel like I shouldn’t feel guilty about spending this necessary time with my children. But work has made me this way. Work is telling me I need to be 100% present while my head is focused on being mom. I feel pulled in two polarized directions.
This unrelenting feeling that I am letting my employer down has led me down the path of pursuing freelance work to give me the flexibility that I so desire and need.
It’s easy to see why working mothers are leaving their jobs. When an organization lacks policies and empathy to support women in this pivotal shift in their personal lives, unhappiness and disengagement settles in.
And it’s not just a lack of support from leadership that will make a working mom consider quitting her job. A lack of empathy from team members and co-workers and a perceived unfairness from them is also damaging.
We need a culture shift.
We need to emphasize that working moms aren’t slacking on their jobs. Balancing a career and motherhood is hard enough, we don’t need any extra obstacles.
So what do we need from employers?
Trust and autonomy to do our jobs
Nothing flips my productivity switch like an employer who tries to micromanage me and my time. I’m a strong individual achiever and view regulations and questions about my time as a lack of trust.
Getting two young kids up and dressed and moving for the day is a challenge, which means I’m likely to walk into the office later than the average start time, and walk out earlier than those burning the midnight oil. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not busting my butt while I’m there.
An employer who trusts their employees to do their best work with the time that they have are shining beacons on the rough waters of motherhood.
Flexibility to work around our family lives
Speaking of being physically present at the office, I believe, in most cases, it isn’t necessary. Advancements in technology means you can work from virtually anywhere.
I understand if an organization wants people to have a presence in the office, but if they aren’t lenient on working remotely on occasion, this is a red flag of not trusting their employees. And who wants to work for someone who doesn’t trust them to do their work?
As a mom, it means that at any given moment during my work day I could get the dreaded call from daycare that one of my kids is sick and needs picked up. And with most daycares having a 24-hour symptom free policy, this means that it often rolls into another day at home. And with two kids, this means that this happens about twice as much.
I need to know that my employer understands and supports me during times like this, rather than feeling like I’m doing something wrong by leaving work to get my ill child. Working mom guilt is complex. If we aren’t feeling like we are failing our children, we feel like we are letting our employers down.
Organizations need to acknowledge this issue and instead of asking working moms to lean in, they are the ones who should be leaning into this important group of contributors.