“I don’t want to feel unseen anymore. I’m speaking up for what I need more.”
“Working, taking care of the household chores, cooking and childcare. It’s like 4 full time jobs. I felt okay with working full time and household chores, but add a baby, and I’d like to have some personal time and find a support system. I’ve been experiencing depression, anxiety, and severe burn out…”
“(It’s as if) I’m supposed to be magically navigating this uncertainty with a smile on my face and answers for everything.”
In the latest wave* of our pandemic study, when asked, ‘What expectations, obligations, or rules do you NOT want to follow anymore?’ surveyed Moms openly shared their frustrations and hopes. They’re tired. Angry. And most importantly, unwilling to remain expendable as we enter this new era.
While facing the new variant, return-to-office and back-to-school, Moms are haunted by the never-done list. And are desperate to protect their time from everyone else’s needs. As one surveyed Mom states, “(I’m done with) falling into the ‘busy mom’ trope. I want to see things I do, as a working parent involved in my community, as a competence. Not being overwhelmed or busy.”
We’re Sick of Feeling Used
“(I’m done with) the notion that work comes first, the idea that a woman who tries to take care of herself is selfish.”
“I am working hard to return to my previous work life balance. Our school board was brutal to teachers and while I am happy to work hard for my individual students, … I will not be abused.”
Almost half of the Moms who responded, want to revise the work rules (45%.) And increase control over how, when and where, they career. That includes what they’re wearing while doing it! Over one third (34%) want to rewrite social and gender norms. Including roles at home, being over scheduled, pleasing others, and feeling guilt when setting boundaries.
Over one tenth (12%) are ready to break up with Covid mandates. And the remainder are tired of being told how to feel or think. As one Mom states, “I don’t want to be told what compassion is and what I have to do to show it.”
As the Default “Doers” Of All the Things
“The unfair expectations that women must do and be everything. It’s so unequal and unfair.”
“I don’t have to be the primary everything in our home.”
Surveyed Moms overwhelmingly want more sovereignty over their time. And they don’t want to feel bad about it. Nor do they want to prioritize other people’s expectations, over their own values. And they don’t want to honor meaningless obligations or engage in performative acts of faux commitment. One surveyed Mom shared, “(I’m done with) working in the office ‘til as late as possible to prove I’m committed. Then picking up my kids much too late and ruining the dinner/bedtime routine.”
So, it’s Time for New Rules at Work
27% Want control over how they work – the hours, schedule, and priorities
“Placing the office responsibilities over my children because I’m a single income family.”
“I don’t want to work myself to death. I’m not interested in sacrificing my family life and sanity, for the sake of a business.”
“(I’m done with) taking vacation (time) to let in a plumber.”
And 18% don’t want to work onsite every day, commute or adhere to a dress code.
“I don’t want to work in an office building and be less efficient joust because my employer likes having people face to face. I will no longer take unnecessary business trips. I will simply say no.”
“I’m not spending my time in traffic when I can be just as efficient at home (when child is at child care :)); …I have embraced fun nails again because I don’t have the pressure of someone thinking I’m unprofessional.”
“I don’t want to be forced to go to the office when my job can be completed at home. I want more time with my kids.”
And Yes, At Home Too
15% don’t want to overschedule themselves or their families
“I do not want to fill mine or my children’s schedule so full – will keep more time and flexibility in our afternoons and weekends. Less planning ahead and more spontaneity!”
“(I don’t want to think) that my kids have to be in activities to be fulfilled.”
13% want to set boundaries without the dreaded guilt
“I want to feel comfortable doing what I want to do it without feeling guilty about it.”
“(I’m done with) having to do it all and be so responsive on social media.”
“(I’m done with) being overly available, saying yes to everyone and everything.”
That Includes With Family
“(I’m done with) family being entitled to us by nature of blood. #nope.”
“(I’m done with the assumption) that my child is always first.”
16% don’t want to please others at their own expense
“I don’t have to be your friend anymore if your politics suck.”
“(I’m done with the assumption) that I have to do everything and I don’t need help.”
That includes gendered norms that make them the ‘default’ doer at home (8%)
“I do not want all of the child/home responsibilities falling on me. I do not want to be the one who has to give up my career which I loved.”
“I want less of the household workload—a more equal share with my husband.”
“(I don’t want) sole responsibility for figuring out where kids are going, how they’re getting picked up, or covering when there’s an emergency.”
And Society in General
Many want to end social touching (2%) or keeping superficial or negative friends (2%)
“(I’m done with) participating in fake friendships. Attending every event, we get invited to.”
“(I’m done with) shaking hands or hugging people I don’t know.”
12% are over the Covid protocols
“I hate masks, I feel like I’m suffocating. I can’t wait to stop wearing them.”
“No more masks on children.”
The remainder don’t want others telling them how to feel or think.
“(I am done with) being made responsible for other adults and their health.”
“I’m done with bras, I’m done with being polite to selfish conservatives who don’t believe in science, don’t care about public safety, & are invested in cockamamie conspiracy theories.”
Boundaries Begin With you
It’s tricky to set boundaries. Whether it’s at work, with your partner or kids. So, it’s important to understand that space to care for your physical and emotional health, is essential. Chronic stress from the mental and physical workload, doesn’t only cause burnout. It can lead to a myriad of long-term health consequences. And women are at greater risk for many chronic conditions including anxiety and depression.
But the Workload Needs to Go Somewhere
Boundaries at home can be a challenge because most of the responsibilities, aren’t optional. Someone has to clean, cook, schedule, discipline and meet with teachers. Although you can outsource some tasks, managing and overseeing someone else, still takes time. And there are many important activities, like parent-teacher conferences and soothing night terrors, that are tough to outsource. These responsibilities still fall to Moms, when partnered with Dads, in most families.
So, Revisit the Roles at Home
There are great systems and strategies to share housework, childcare and the mental load with a partner. But they take time to implement. So, start now. And, if age appropriate, kids can take on chores. But training them to become competent helpers requires patience. And because containing the responsibilities at home is hard, work becomes the target for reinvention. This is why Moms routinely downshifted and paused their careers pre-Covid.
And Your Support at Work
Historic numbers of women were forced out of jobs during Covid. But most parents are still working. Because raising children is expensive. And for many, meaningful work, is a source of pride and purpose. So, they continue to make extraordinary contributions, despite the challenges.
Surveyed parents have lost patience with unwoke leaders, limited mobility, pay or insufficient resources to do their jobs. As one surveyed Mom shared, “(I’m done with) being mandated to other work sites when they are short staffed.”
And Learn to Say No. Often
Many industries are dealing with labor shortages. Which makes it easier to upgrade or renegotiate. And there are artful ways to say no at work without losing your job. Like asking for deadlines, instead of assuming that everything is urgent. And requesting the right resources, like extra staff or budget, before agreeing to new projects. Many organizations are also offering more flexibility, childcare and mental health resources than ever.
You are not responsible for the diminished capacity, at home or work. And since you adjust to the changing needs of others, all the time, it’s okay for the people in your life to reciprocate. So, consider setting new boundaries to protect your time and energy. It often requires difficult conversations, with managers or partners, to carve out what you really need. And if that still makes you feel guilty, just blame it on the pandemic.
*This is an early look at wave 6 results, with answers from 173 Moms, June 23 through August 10, 2021 to the question, ‘What rules won’t you follow anymore.’ Over 2, 400 parents have participated in the pandemic study since it began, March 30, 2020.
Share your pandemic experiences! How are the latest changes affecting your life? It’s quick and the results from this study are used to advocate better support for parents.
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