“Women feel like they’ve been abandoned in this pandemic. We feel depleted and beyond recharging so, I don’t think we can self-care our way out of this. We need real solutions. Because we are finally in a place where it’s hard to reconcile our new reality with the future that we envisioned for ourselves, said Blessing Adesiyan, Entrepreneur and Advocate.
Pre-pandemic, work never worked well for Mothers. But the Covid workload to maintain home and career remains relentless. And in the US, we still lack the public policies, like universal childcare and paid family leave, to alleviate the burden.
So what options do we have while waiting for meaningful systems change? Achieving professional growth or work/life balance, may feel like a fantasy. But once you reconcile the disappointment, it’s freeing to think about what you really need. And let go of obligations or infrastructure that no longer serves you.
The Need for More Support is Dire
Blessing has spent the past several years building a community to help Mothers fit work and life together. So, she hears a lot about the pandemic’s worsening mental health impact from members. She explained, “One Mom said, ‘I feel like I made the worst decision of my life having a child.’ And another told us that she contemplated ending her life as a result of stress from losing her job. And being shamed by her partner.” And finding treatment options, in the growing mental health crisis, is as difficult as finding childcare.
The weight of the increased pandemic-load continues to affect Mothers disproportionately. And many turn anguish about not being able to ‘do’ or ‘have it all’ into guilt. Blessing added, “The stories we hear are really grim. In a country where there is no safety net, childcare and no real partnership on the home front, a lot of Moms in our community are crying out for solutions. And unfortunately, those solutions don’t exist.”
And Better Work/Life Infrastructure
When our children need something new to flourish, we spring into action. But rarely level up the support we receive as conditions change. Blessing credits strong partnership at home with her successful shift to running her business full-time. “We’ve done a lot of things in the last two years which is even surprising to me. And in between, I breastfed two babies!” Amazing.
She added, “I had to deal with the reality that my corporate job no longer exists. And leaving that behind, in this pandemic, meant I had to lean into entrepreneurship. And I couldn’t have done that and have a fourth child, without a very strong support system.” If you lack support, where do you begin?
Start With Childcare
Blessing made a critical decision to return to her native Nigeria, early in the pandemic. “My father had just passed away and I hadn’t been back for 17 years. And so, my husband and I looked at each other and said, ‘why don’t we go to Nigeria?’ And when we got there, we found out I was pregnant. So, we decided to hang around for a little while so, I could continue to work and have childcare. I was able to power through a lot of things.”
In our pandemic study, 75% of parents have faced disruptions to their childcare or children’s schooling. Blessing said shortly after returning to the US and having her baby, they went back to Nigeria for childcare. “Because quite frankly, how would we have done it with four kids, the Omicron and Delta variants raging and no support?” With childcare even less accessible than it was before, women’s workforce participation is the lowest it’s been in 30 years.
Get Creative at Home or Ask Your Employer
Blessing said, “I had to be where I would receive that support and it’s a very privileged place to be. I know not everyone can just grab their kids and hop out of the country but that is the state of childcare and Motherhood in America. There is no sustainable solution or real path for how families can thrive.”
Many employers have embraced remote work. But working from home without childcare isn’t sustainable. One of the positive outcomes from the pandemic, is that more companies are investing in childcare benefits. And hiring shortages have given workers more leverage to return to work stronger. Or negotiate compensation upgrades with new or current employers, which can make childcare or paying for added household support, more affordable.
Blessing said, “I’ve tried to create a life that allows me to periodically rest, as much as possible. People think that I’m constantly executing but I build in a lot of rest and support.” Women face an ‘exhaustion gap’ on top of the stubborn wage and leadership gaps. And they’re connected.
Burn out is damaging to our careers, not just out health. So, making time for wellbeing is part of the answer. Blessing said, “My biggest thing is to get support. And the next, is to do it without guilt. I have no shame and feel no guilt paying for an extra two hours of after school care for my kids. So, I can use that time to get my work done or to fit exercise in.” Beautiful!
Outsource Where you Can
She added, “I would rather pay money for support, than a new dress, because that is not as important to me. It’s important to me to have the kids taken care of by somebody else for a few hours. So, that I can get my work done, care for myself and honor my ambitions. Those things are very important to my husband as well. So, we’ve created this path, to ensure that we listen to ourselves and to our relationship.” If outside childcare isn’t feasible, if you’re coupled, explore new ways to share responsibilities with your partner. And seek micro-solutions for breaks, like help from neighbors, friends, or extended family.
Honor Your Boundaries, Without Guilt
Blessing said, “If I have to drive two hours out of town to get a child to a soccer game, we won’t have that soccer game. And we will substitute for swimming because it’s not worth it for me to lose my sanity over a two-hour drive.” Amen.
We drown in ‘shoulds’ then overcommit our strained schedules. “A lot of women tell me, ‘I feel like a bad Mom when I’m not doing XY&Z for my kids’ and I tell them, well I can’t do it all. I can’t be everything to my kids. So, I choose what I can do and what makes them happy that is within my skill set or happy place. But if it becomes a pain, I will outsource it very quickly.”
Let’s End the ‘Mom Shaming’
Blessing said, “In our society we shame Moms into taking on too much. And it happens all the time. Moms have said to me, ‘my Mother-in-Law is always unhappy when she comes here and sees a housekeeper. Or ‘my husband tells me that that’s my role and outsourcing it makes me less of a woman.’ And that just always blows my mind!”
Invest in Expertise
Mothers are drowning in generic advice. And the path, to thrive in career and life, can feel impossible. And lonely. Blessing said, “We found that women need tactical advice and information. And they need it in a quick time frame and format that’s easy to digest. Because of how the pandemic has unfolded, it’s really created a lot of unique situations.” Yes.
And traditionally, Mothers haven’t availed themselves of experts to navigate their careers. Yet, executive coaches and consultants have been a fixture in corporate America, for decades. Often, limited to the C-Suite, where few Mothers have access.
And Find Support in Community
Having accountability increases the likelihood of achieving your goals. And Blessing is making access to the expertise Moms need easier. She said, “We’re building a community of Mothers who are leaders that support other women. Because women, now more than ever, need advice that is tailored to them. And that’s why the Motherboard will be a core product. To bring more women the advice and resources that they need to thrive.”
The idea of ‘American independence’ permeates our culture. But no one achieves success in isolation. Communities, online and in real life, are powerful. It’s where we connect, grow and learn. So, use every resource you need, to survive and shine. While supporting initiatives and organizations that advocate for the public infrastructure we deserve.
Many thanks to the talented Blessing Adesiyan!
I’m honored to part of the Motherboard expert community that launched last week! Check it out to find me and other leaders you can connect with.
- Ready to reclaim space from the never-done list? Take a TimeCheck.
- Have you chimed in yet? Share your pandemic experiences! It’s quick and the results from this study are used to advocate better support for parents.
- Employers, transform your workplace into an environment where caregivers thrive. Learn about Allies @ Work.
Blessing Adesiyan is the Founder of Mother Honestly, a complete ecosystem reshaping the future of women and families at home and in the workplace. Prior to founding Mother Honestly, she spent 15+ years in Fortune 100 companies such as Microsoft, HP, Cargill, PepsiCo, DuPont, and BASF where she built operational excellence framework across the United States, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Asia.
Blessing is a trusted expert in work-life solutions for working parents and has helped transform the role of mothers in the workplace and home, engaging over 500,000 women through the Mother Honestly platform, podcast and conferences. Her passion to call women to their truest and limitless potential in motherhood, addressing challenges and crafting sustainable solutions, while combining work and life helps women, their family and their employers achieve long-term success.
Blessing is a champion for caregivers being a mother of four herself with kids in the teenage, toddler, and baby stages. She has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Crains Business, Parents, Fortune Magazine and more. Blessing is also an international speaker who have spoken across multiple media / enterprises such as Facebook, Pinterest, NBC, ABC, Fox, NASA, Fortune, SAP, Favor, and more. Blessing obtained her BSc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida, an MSc. in Energy Management from the New York Institute of Technology and an MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.