What if the Professional Opportunity of a Lifetime Lands During the Pandemic?

“I don’t workout to lose weight or anything like that, it’s for the mental breather. I don’t go on my phone and I’m able to block everything out. I do that 5 five days a week, even if I have to stay up late or wake up early to fit it in. It’s the 30 or 40 minutes of the day where no one’s bothering me,” said Kayla Lebovits, Entrepeneur. She added, “I’ve done that for many years and did not miss a beat with the pandemic because without that time, I don’t think I’ll be able to perform as well or be there for my team and our clients.”

What happens when an amazing growth opportunity comes during a pandemic? Although many businesses have struggled, others, have experienced hypergrowth. But leaders, have a short window to channel that increased demand, into long-term stability. Although our culture praises self-sacrifice and most parents, have dropped self-care during Covid, the reality is self-care leads to success. And Kayla has found clever ways to maintain the energy to scale her business.

Covid Made the Big Childcare Problem, Bigger

Although she started her company 3 years ago, Kayla’s major pivot for the pandemic has led to rapid expansion. “We were primarily doing in-home care. When Covid happened, we took what we were doing in the home and made it virtual. And it took off.”

Kayla said, “I had worked in finance prior to starting Bundle. And I witnessed a lot of parents, specifically women, struggling as they were starting their families and also trying to excel in their careers. And I felt that employers had a unique opportunity to allow them to have peace of mind at work. So, I started Continue reading “What if the Professional Opportunity of a Lifetime Lands During the Pandemic?”

Why Won’t Parents Ask for Help When They Need it Most?

“I need some grace – from myself, my spouse, my child, but especially my job. The expectation that parents can manage to work a full-time schedule from home while also caring for children is absurd.”

“More time in the day so I can finish all of my tasks (work, child care, household chores) or more money so I could pay someone to take a task off my to-do list. I am being asked to do more at work for the same pay and have more to do at home now too.”

Over 1,200 parents, primarily Mothers (93%) have shared in our anonymous survey what they need to improve work and life through Covid. Most need help. In the form of childcare, household help, work flexibility, time and money to make the impossible — juggling too many roles at the same time — doable.

Last month there was a mass exodus of women from the workforce and perhaps worse, of those who remain, 1 in 4 are considering downshifting or leaving their careers.

Can we prevent this? What if it felt safe to ask for help at work?

The Always-On Intensity is Wearing Everyone Down

“…It’s impossible to maintain the 8-5 work hour schedule. The reality is that days just become longer for parents, waking up before dawn to get work done, so that when kids wake up, you’ve already put in hours. But during kids’ breakfast, you also have the daily morning meetings that interfere with child bonding, etc.”

“…I’m either working for my employer or keeping my household going. There’s just nothing left for me.”

Whether soothing babies, chasing toddlers, playing Continue reading “Why Won’t Parents Ask for Help When They Need it Most?”

Welcome to the Tyranny of Self-Care

“Self-care is taking care of my own energy level.” Said Leah Ruppanner, Author of Motherlands and Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne. It’s a powerful definition and rallying cry to disrupt how we think about it. She added, “I’m trying to resist how the wellness industry defines self-care, where I have to do yoga and become thin. I reject that model of self-care but sometimes, find it very seductive, because it’s simple solutions for complex problems.”

Audre Lorde, who coined the term described it as an “act of self-preservation.” So, it’s ironic that self-care has become a source of inner conflict. Because it’s often conflated with pampering, some feel pressured by it.

But what if we measure our downtime by how rested we are instead of how much we get done? We live busy and in the pandemic, it’s unrealistic not to be. But powering through without some form of self-care leads to burnout.

Time Is More Fragmented Than Ever

Sheltered with family 24/7 makes this more challenging. “What I have found in this pandemic, is that my work requires concentrated, uninterrupted time. And my child requires instruction and constant Continue reading “Welcome to the Tyranny of Self-Care”

The States with the Most Childcare Sanity Will Surprise You

A book review and conversation with Motherland’s Author Leah Ruppanner

Covid has forced Mothers everywhere to reevaluate work/life tradeoffs. And without access to childcare or school, millions have left their jobs, despite the global recession. Because trying to work and care for kids full-time does not set anyone up to thrive. And like all living things, we need the right conditions to flourish. Leah Ruppanner, Author and Co-Director of the Policy Lab at the University of Melbourne, went in search of the ‘Motherlands’ for her new book. Those idyllic places with childcare sanity where Motherhood and work can coexist. What she found was surprising.

Mothers Are Opting Out in Record Numbers

Pre-Covid, life fit around the work calendar. And caregiving often fell into the hours before and after. Kind of. Work hours in most careers have increased in the past decade. Which makes finding space to care for our kids, parents or selves, a constant source of conflict.

Leah explained, “People believe, ‘I personally failed because I couldn’t make work and family work. And everyone else seems to be doing this great job’ but the truth of the matter is, that it’s a structural issue. If a woman working in Massachusetts or California, where childcare is $4,000 a month, was told Continue reading “The States with the Most Childcare Sanity Will Surprise You”

Loneliness When You’re Not Alone

Over 1,000* parents, primarily Moms (94%) have shared their experiences with the pandemic since late March. Five months in, time spent caring for mental and physical health, continues to erode. And over 2/3 admit spending less time maintaining relationships with other adults that keep them anchored. Parents have increasingly shared loneliness has been the hardest part of social distance.

“Not being able to be with people I care about. Now everyone is just a phone friend.”

“I’m low on incidental socialization (i.e. chatting with parents while kids are at activities, socializing with people at the gym, getting together with friends who don’t live on my street.)”

“Not being able to see friends and family and/or needing to limit the amount of interaction with them.”

Isolation…With Family?

We love our families. Their persistent presence has been the greatest source of conflict and joy in lockdown, for most surveyed parents. But being ‘always on’ whether for work or kids, is wearing. The bonds we have with other adults — friends, family and colleagues – often provide  Continue reading “Loneliness When You’re Not Alone”

This is not About Self-Care. This is About Your Sanity

Mental health was precarious for parents pre-Covid. And as the crisis continues, over 1,000* surveyed parents, mostly Moms (94%) admit they’ve eliminated time spent on their own wellness to cope with the added workload.

They’re overwhelmingly working from home (71%) without childcare (70%) and report doing ‘terribly’ or ‘worse than usual’ as caregivers to themselves (72%.) They’ve paused exercise, hobbies and date nights. And many refuse to take vacation time out of concern for job security.

Many achieve career success by ignoring well intentioned advice about balance. We’re incented to run, not rest, in most industries. Pre-Covid, more than half of Americans didn’t take all of their paid vacation time. But everything is different now and breaks have become critical.

When asked, ‘what’s been the hardest?’ many cite increased challenges with emotional and mental wellbeing.

“Keeping up with mental health.”

“Maintaining routines even when feeling depressed and unmotivated.”

“Not having a ‘finish line.’ We truly don’t know when this will end, and it makes it hard to keep going and do the right thing.’’

Self-Care Is Essential

For parents, faced with an uneven back-to-school and wobbly job market, self-care may seem frivolous. Yet, like the masks and the other health protocols we follow, it’s vital. Dr. Charmain Jackman, Clinical Psychologist & Founder of InnoPsych said, “It starts with your mindset. You really need to understand that self-care is important. It’s not about pampering, like getting a pedicure. Self-care is about giving your mind and Continue reading “This is not About Self-Care. This is About Your Sanity”

What Working Parents Want Their Managers to Know

Over 1,000* surveyed parents, primarily Moms (94%) were open about what they need from work for their productivity, wellbeing and happiness. Most (70%) have had their childcare disrupted by the pandemic and crave understanding. And yes, that includes more flexibility and control over their time so they can care for their children and themselves.

“Less check-in meetings. Just trust the job will get done.”

“…I still have the same 35-hour workload of meetings and manage staff and my husband is having to take over care for our one-year-old on top of his project-based work.”

“…In many ways I feel for my employer and understand that you can’t make exceptions for those with or without kids. However, I do think less meetings would be helpful and give parents flexibility on time. A four-day work week would also be great!”

“Lower expectations with lowered staff (had layoffs but same expectations). Offer more flexibility, (there’s) no need for 9 am to 5 pm in the digital world.”

Most parents can’t maintain the habits of overwork that are common in our culture. And non-stop work, wasn’t healthy or effective for peak performance anyway. But as the recession deepens, many choose to quietly endure Continue reading “What Working Parents Want Their Managers to Know”

How to Restore Work/Life Boundaries Working From Home

“Today is different from yesterday and this week is different from last week. You can have some kids in school but if the County is on a watch list for Covid, then you can’t be in school. And, if there’s anyone in the community that gets Covid, then everything has to shut down and go virtual for two weeks. I get what they’re trying to do but it’s very fluid and not super helpful,” said Alexis Haselberger.

A lot of us are in the midst of or planning for back-to-school pandemic-style. Hybrid schedules. On and off days, lunch at home and no transportation. Back to school was always a high-stakes time of transition. But this year’s lack of consistency and threat of Covid-19, is a recipe for mental load stress. And productivity, for even the most seasoned work-from-home parents, has been flipped upside down by having the kids at home. I asked Alexis a productivity expert, for smart strategies to set this season of work-and-school-from-home, up for success.

Where Are You Right Now? Start There.

Although it’s true, it was hard before and it’s become harder, Alexis suggests starting with today. The current conditions do not resemble what once was. She said, “The mental framework I’ve been using is to ask, ‘what is working and not working right Continue reading “How to Restore Work/Life Boundaries Working From Home”

Childcare Never Quite Worked Before. It’s Time for Something Better

Let’s not conflate childcare and school. Working parents need both and always have. It’s true, most Americans with children over the age of 5 have relied on school as their primary childcare. But, the frequent holidays and mid-afternoon pickup, meant it was a partial solution at best for most workers. And having a credentialed expert, to expand your child’s mind, is not the same as keeping them fed and entertained.

Covid-19 has disrupted childcare arrangements for the overwhelming majority of over 900 surveyed parents* (71%.) Despite their need to continue working (84%) mostly from home (72%) with their kids.

“Non-stop days of homeschool followed by long evenings/weekends of work and making sure kids eat healthy, learn, get outside and feel ok while balancing a very demanding job.”

“It’s the unknown. Will the kids go back in the fall? How to balance their work and mine…”

“The expectation that work output should not be impacted despite having to care for my child full time. I stay up really late every night now to fit in the work hours.”

“Not being able to send my child to school or activities while I work. I must keep my child home to protect the family from COVID, sacrificing my ability to Continue reading “Childcare Never Quite Worked Before. It’s Time for Something Better”

You Deserve Time Alone. But Mindfulness Helps When You Can’t

“They said that they were losing themselves. Losing who they were. And didn’t know if they would be able to resolve it until their kids went off to college and I wasn’t okay with that idea. I wanted to find a solution to that problem,” said Melissa Mueller-Douglas, Founder of MYRetreat and Licensed Social Worker.

We spin ourselves in blurry, hyper-productive circles while our families rest. If we get a chance to sit down, guilt shows up to steal our joy. If you’ve fantasized about a retreat, someplace sacred to regroup, you are not alone. Personal space in lockdown is rare. Before Covid, there was growing acceptance that we need breaks, from doing everything for everyone else. Momcations were on the rise. But the idea that caring for our wellbeing needs to be extravagant or even ‘secluded’ is dangerous. It’s true, most Moms crave self-care alone, but that desire can be self-destructive when conditions make time ‘alone’ infrequent or impossible. Like in a global pandemic.

Bliss is the 90 Minute Reset

Melissa has elevated the concept of retreat to Continue reading “You Deserve Time Alone. But Mindfulness Helps When You Can’t”

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