Working Moms And Work Life Balance | Mom’s Hierarchy Of Needs

Moms and Dads, is There a Better Way to Fight?

“We brought couples into the lab and had them argue with each other. And we found that how negatively or positively, they interacted with each other, actually predicted their experience of the birth! So, prenatal couples conflict predicted stress during childbirth and the baby’s medical outcomes. Couples are such an interesting target for prevention and intervention. We’re now thinking about how to support relationship quality,” said Dr. Darby Saxbe, Professor and Researcher.

Some couples have grown closer in the pandemic. But most have not. We’ve heard from over 2,000 parents, mostly Moms (97%) who are married or cohabiting. And the loss of date nights and personal space, combined with the rise in housework and childcare, has been a recipe for marital stress.

The gendered power struggle continues to test relationships for many Moms partnered with Dads. Who gets to have leisure? And who gets to do the laundry? It’s tricky to disagree without damaging trust. Particularly when the topic, sharing the work at home, is a well-worn source of tension. So, what can we do?

Invest in Better Communication

“There’s been much more demand on everything from meals to dishes, to just supervising kids in the pandemic. So, the stress on couples has really multiplied,” Darby said. But she’s seen couples get aligned. “There are great approaches to couples therapy. And improved Continue reading “Moms and Dads, is There a Better Way to Fight?”

Is it Too Late for Employers to Fix What’s Broken About Work?

“And to make work ‘work’ for our lives it’s not just about work/life balance. It’s about gender equality, breaking down the patriarchy, the system of white supremacy and this system of capitalism. The model of capitalism that we have is broken,” said Eva Dienel, Journalist and Work Sustainability Expert.

According to SHRM, more than half of workers plan to change jobs. As the war for talent resumes, employers in high growth industries will return their attention to wooing job seekers. Usually in the form of shiny benefits and promised work/life balance. But work stress is a leading cause of personal distress. Because it’s how we’re treated in the middle and the end of a tenure, not only the beginning, that matters. And organizations rarely see how their failure to deliver on promises, can inflict long-term harm.

Like any other relationship, there are rules. And expectations. But unlike other partnerships, all the power moves from the worker to the employer once the offer letter is signed. How can organizations show a responsible use of that power?

Create the High-Performance Culture Without the Self-Sacrifice

Many of us derive a sense of purpose and accomplishment from work. And the desire to be excellent at work can be motivating. And a healthy expression of our gifts. If the bar is in the right place. Which is hard to do, based on how most organizations measure value. Eva said, “If you’re thinking about work as a quality product that you can give to people in your organization, then you start to think about your role as an Continue reading “Is it Too Late for Employers to Fix What’s Broken About Work?”

Is Good Childcare the Answer to Better Mental Health?

“The increased responsibility and decline in available resources for myself and my child (has been hardest.) Our outlets and interactions are limited and it’s taking a toll on the mental and emotional health of myself and my son.”

“(I need) to just be able to breathe and take a moment to myself without worrying about the household.”

“I wish there was a “Mother’s day out” available so I could just have one day a week to myself. I wish there were more activities open for my child… there’s no story time, no toddler classes, nothing.”

Maybe. After studying the pandemic’s impact since March of 2020, here’s what over 2,000 surveyed parents, mostly Moms (97%) have shared. They’ve shouldered many of the essential roles at home and in the economy. And they’ve overwhelmingly powered through, while working (86%) without childcare or onsite school for their kids (87%.)

But this herculean effort, has been at the expense of self-care. And for many, the strain has eroded their mental health, marriages, and careers. When asked what they need for their wellbeing or productivity, childcare has been at the top of the list. But pre-Covid, finding affordable and reliable childcare, was a bit like Continue reading “Is Good Childcare the Answer to Better Mental Health?”

What Can you Learn From the New Parent Journey to Support Your Mental Health?

“We know that the transition to Parenthood a critical window of change and adaptation. Our hormones, brains, behaviors, sleep and social interactions are changing. And there’s increasing evidence, that those changes are happening for men as well as women. Because it’s not only pregnancy that creates these changes,” said Dr. Darby Saxbe, Psychologist, Professor and Researcher.

Darby has spent the past seven years studying the transition to parenthood. And what she has learned, about the best conditions for new parents, can illuminate the scaffolding we need at all stages of the journey.

Although the pandemic has complicated caregiving, it’s also forcing improvements. So, how can we learn from this time of transformation and put the kind of supports in place that reduce stress and improve our health?

Parenting Expands Your Brain. Literally

Darby said, “When I established my own lab, I wanted to hone in on this idea of new parenthood being a window for neuroplasticity. So, we recruit couples that are expecting their first child. And we explicitly went with cohabiting couples, because we wanted to look at Fathers’ experiences, along with Mothers. Including their brains, stress hormones and the way they interact with each other.” She studies the positive effects of neuroplasticity, the brain expansion and development, that comes with parenthood. And this exponential change, brings both pain and opportunity. Because we’re more vulnerable during this shift.

And You Need the Right Support for a Positive Experience

So, it’s important to increase the support you have. Especially during pregnancy and your child’s infancy. The downside, to this time of cognitive growth, is that we’re also more impressionable to trauma. Like in a pandemic. Darby explained that previous studies from natural disasters, showed Continue reading “What Can you Learn From the New Parent Journey to Support Your Mental Health?”

How to Keep the Good Stuff and Resist the Return to Overwhelm

“There was a lot of conversation pre-Covid around how to talk about or even teach people, resilience. Because it is a teachable skill. And then, all of a sudden, we have this experience. Unfortunately, this is going beyond resilience. And we’re getting burned out,” said Donielle Buie, HR Leader and Work/Life Expert.

Many of us were drowning pre-pandemic. But we patched together ways to make it mostly work. Until Covid obliterated the workarounds. So now, we’re somewhere between revolution and evolution. We may have better childcare options coming. But right now, it’s still hard to find. And leaders continue to debate if the future of work, is a remote one. Yet, the demands on our time continue to increase.

Calendars are full again. But most of us still have more to do, with less support. So, how can we resist the return to life at a dizzying speed?

Resist the Pull to What we Had

Of course, it’s not over yet. And the pandemic is more than Covid-19. It’s framed a social justice reset and economic meltdown. And many are grieving, lost loved ones, livelihoods and health. So even the idea of a return, to the office or the birthday party circuit, can feel jarring. And scary.

We’ve had a long pause in how we Continue reading “How to Keep the Good Stuff and Resist the Return to Overwhelm”

Trapped in the Stress Cycle? Take Back Your Mental Health at Home

“Our bodies and minds have so much innate wisdom, our job is to figure out how to honor it and take care of ourselves. Rather than looking at self-care as a luxury, because it’s essential. It’s a mindset and a lifelong journey. And we have the power and the tools to do this,” said Dr. Marni Chanoff, Integrative Psychiatrist.

The mental health crisis preceded the pandemic. And the strain of Covid-living has increased anxiety and depression. It takes a lot of energy to keep kids, careers and partnerships spinning in a positive way. And whether it’s finding doctors or space on the calendar, we tend to avoid dealing with stress. That is, until our bodies rebel.

But what if you can regain energy and peace in meaningful ways at home? Marni is passionate about unlocking the links between our habits, including what we eat, and strong health.

Meds Can Have Unintended Consequences

Marni developed expertise at the intersection of mental health and nutrition. Because she learned that many of the medications available, could harm nutrition and metabolic health. She said, “I worked with severely ill people for many years, which was what drew me to Psychiatry. When I started prescribing medication for acute psychotic disorders, I learned, that many of the most effective medications, can make some people gain up to 50 pounds. It’s a dilemma when you see someone start to get better mentally, as they put on weight, that can take years to take off.”

And Many Can’t Get Access to Healthcare Right Now

Pre-Covid, many people were on long waiting lists for everything from primary care physicians to specialists. And it’s much worse now. Particularly in underserved communities. Marni said, “Navigating the medical system can be awful, even if you have a solid education and good insurance. And so, for people who are struggling with any kind of mental or physical health problems, relying on the medical system as it is right now, can be Continue reading “Trapped in the Stress Cycle? Take Back Your Mental Health at Home”

Leadership Without Burnout. How to Build Your Capacity and Energy

“Maybe some people go into leadership kicking and screaming and other people go into it riding a wave that has kind of carried them through life. And with no hubris, I am among the latter. And I’m really grateful for that,” said Dr. Aisha Francis, Educational Leader and Advocate.

When imposter syndrome shows up to steal your joy, do you wonder why? Although there are many reasons, we often internalize the myth that we can become leaders alone. But as you advance in your career, leadership becomes the product of grooming, not just training. And for women, particularly women of color, sponsors become important. So, as you level-up professionally, remember that high achievers, from athletes to Nobel laureates, work with coaches and mentors.

Aisha became the CEO of her organization during the pandemic. So how do you bring your professional best and gain momentum in a time of crisis?

Think of Leadership as a Way of Being

Aisha explained, “I thought that leadership was just what people did.” She was surrounded by leaders growing up, “I had the chance to see what leadership looks like outside of the context of work. It was the way that you Continue reading “Leadership Without Burnout. How to Build Your Capacity and Energy”

Is the Mental and Emotional Load Shared in Your Household?

“I need the older children in the family and my husband to step up and help out. I feel like I’ve taken up all the slack and their responsibilities have remained the same. My husband says I just need to ask him for “help” but that just puts it on me to manage everything. I’m frustrated and exhausted and he doesn’t get it.”

“I am literally drowning in overwhelm while my husband is having a great time working from home! Because I’m picking up all the pieces keeping everything together.”

“I told my husband that him “helping” around the house is not enough anymore. He’s an adult and he needs full ownership of at least 50% of keeping our lives together.”

Over 1,800 parents, mostly Moms (98,%) have shared their pandemic stories for our research study. And they’re drained from doing more of everything: housework (78%,) kids activities (54%,) and childcare (73%.) Although they’re overwhelmingly married or cohabiting, in the pandemic, only 30% state their partners are doing more housework or childcare. The gendered division of household labor for Moms partnered with Dads isn’t new. And it’s a corrosive undercurrent for many couples.

The consuming nature of parenting and running a home, has ballooned during Covid. Although the physical work is considerable, the mental energy to plan, triage and react to countless daily choices, adds strain to the situation.

Although some couples successfully divide the work, few share the mental load. And that’s often where the perception gap between Moms partnered with Dads lies. But what if we could make all that hidden work visible? Does it change the conversation between couples?

Mind the Gendered Gap

“I’m doing all the emotional work of parenting (my spouse does only non-emotional tasks like grocery shopping and lawn mowing)…)

“…My personal routine has been overshadowed by helping/dealing with everyone else. If I try to work out, I’ve got kids hanging all over me, when I’m trying to work during nap time my husband wants to chat always preceded by “I know you’re busy but, just real quick…”

A recent Morning Consult survey echoes the stunning Continue reading “Is the Mental and Emotional Load Shared in Your Household?”

You Say Your Workplace is Family Friendly? Show Me

What Parents Desperately Need at Work Right Now

“Merit increases are somewhat flat while costs of living are rising (particularly the massive childcare costs we’ve undertaken this year…”

“(They’re) not allowing me to work from home when my job is doable from home.”

“(Work is) expecting me to be constantly logged on, still expecting quick turnaround, competing with male team members who have MORE time and push ahead with projects even faster than before and allowing that only to leave mom’s behind.”

Over 1,700 parents, mostly Mothers (98%) have shared their pandemic experiences since March of last year. In the most recent survey wave, parents cite that employer support is better. But most still struggle to manage work and uneven childcare. Over one million Moms fled the workforce despite how family friendly employers said they were. Like a litmus test, Covid has revealed the imposters. So, how can organizations plan for an inclusive post-pandemic return?

Family benefits don’t matter if you’re answering emails until midnight. It’s often the hidden rules, not stated policies, that lead to burnout. And there’s nothing family friendly about that. Donielle Buie, HR leader and Work/Life expert said, “Organizations have really had to look in the mirror and say, ‘we said Continue reading “You Say Your Workplace is Family Friendly? Show Me”

Get Over the Awkward Ask

The Calvary Won’t Come Unless You Build it

“When I became a single Mom, I was working in a fast-paced Information Technology (IT) job and it was impossible to get the support I needed. I couldn’t cope with doing it all any longer and eventually I lost my job. At the time, my doctor said, ‘you need to take a step back because your body is actually shutting down.’ So, then I knew I had to pause,” said Toyosi Babalola, IT expert turned Entrepreneur.

Millions of Mothers have left the workforce in the pandemic. And forced to choose between their incomes and caregiving, more are considering downshifting or opting out. In the pandemic most parents are drained from increased everything. And access to childcare has remained the top request among surveyed parents in our study. Unfortunately, there’s often no village to turn to for support. And asking for help from friends and neighbors can feel uncomfortable. So, many continue to ‘do it all’ and burn out in the process. Toyosi, who moved to the US from Nigeria, realized that her village was missing. And so, to make life work as a single Mom, she decided to build one.

We (Still) Internalize the ‘Have it All’ Fantasy

Toyosi worked in a demanding IT role, a field with few women, let alone Moms. She said, “It was tough. I dropped my daughter off in the morning and went to work, breathing hard, sometimes at 10:00 o’clock. Can you imagine? And because we still live in a world where people judge, I felt like I had to Continue reading “Get Over the Awkward Ask”

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