As of January of this year, about 18.5 million moms found a way to juggle work, motherhood, and everything in between. Yes, there were moments we were working from home, but it’s fair to say we adapted like the pros we are. All of this, with a global pandemic and becoming part-time teaching assistants overnight leaves me wondering — what can’t we do?
18.5 million might sound like a lot, but in reality, compared to last spring (March and April 2020), that’s actually 3.5 million less, according to Census.gov. Here’s the thing: Moms basically run the world as we know it. So why aren’t employers treating us like the queens we are? And while you’re at it, let us WFH, damnit.
After my first daughter, I returned to my awful-but-necessary retail job only three weeks into my unpaid FMLA leave. It was basically the expectation I’d come back like nothing had changed. Never mind that I was running on hardly any sleep with a newborn daughter who I was struggling to breastfeed. Oh, and did I mention the postpartum depression I was expected to check at the door?
Even though she couldn’t legally say it, I knew my manager thought of me as more of a liability than an asset. But the truth is, motherhood only helped me master multitasking and time management more than before. There was only one of me, and damn it, I was going to figure out how to do it all.
Realistically, you can’t do it all, all the time. Yes, even if you fancy yourself superwoman. You end up burnt out. And in that scenario, no one wins. Employers, please take note, if you push your employees to their breaking point, you can kiss productivity goodbye. The only thing that might be able to remedy this is through a decent work-life balance.
Haven’t You Heard? It’s All About Work-Life Balance
I’ve had the privilege to work from home since March of 2019. Well, not exactly from home. Instead of hauling my ass to the office five days a week, I made the commute to sit in my mom’s hospital room to make sure that I didn’t miss a beat.
Honestly, that is the only way I would have been able to work. Because even though physically my body would have been in the office, my mind would have been with her. The messages, the worry, the sheer and utter panic that I would miss something monumental when I was at work, was no longer a distraction. I was fortunate to work under management who understood that.
The concept of work-life balance has gotten lost in translation over the last decade. It doesn’t mean that work and life will live in perfect harmony. They won’t always receive equal amounts of your time and attention. Cues someone to slam an abnormally large gong and let the calming vibrations tingle through your fingertips. No, friends.
A realistic work-life balance is one where sometimes one area pulls more of your time and attention, and the other compensates by running a little less efficiently for the time being. Prime example: this last week has been hella hectic for my family, as summer usually is, so I moved a little more slowly through my work. Does it mean I’m not getting it done? Hell no. It just means that after I put small people to bed, I pull out my PC instead of trying to do it all at once.
It’s 2021 — Embrace Working From Home
Are there some industries where working from home logistically wouldn’t work? Of course. Like, of course I’d love my barista to be able to work from home, but it just doesn’t make sense. And we know our healthcare workers, teachers, grocery store employees, and many others who have to be in-person. But for those who can, it’s a game-changer, and it makes sense.
There’s been loads of research and data collected over the past year and a half supporting that working from home is a practical reality. Personally, I know for a fact, not spending an hour, to 90 minutes, on a round trip (daily) commute has increased my productivity.
As a mom, I don’t have to worry about whether or not I remembered to take the chicken out to defrost for dinner when I was half awake at 6am. I also don’t have to fret about if I remembered to change the setting on the Crockpot to warm or if there is going to be a ‘‘This Is Us’-level tragedy on my hands when I get home.
I can make it to my kid’s school events (the jury is still out as to when these will return, obvi). But having the flexibility to be able to step away for an hour to participate in things like this makes all the difference.
A. I don’t resent my job and employers for forcing me into an office for no logical reason.
B. All that time, energy, and focus I’d otherwise spend ruminating on my mom-guilt is all yours! I’ll even throw in the bonus of jamming my lunch break from an hour into a solid 10 minutes — because come on, I’m a whole six feet from my kitchen.
The bottom line is, moms are literally the best employees. Whether we’re homemakers or working outside the home, we’ve got this ish down pat. All we’re asking for is a little extra support from employers.
Truthfully, employers, it’s a win-win. You get stellar results and exceptional productivity. We get to spend more time with our families and don’t have to spend our lunch breaks searching for a company who understands our humanity to replace you.
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