Recently, I spoke with several friends who are also mothers. It seemed like each one of them was complaining about the same thing: They were running around like headless chickens who were tired and worn out and they had no time for themselves.
As working parents we are often pulled in many directions and bombarded with multiple demands at the same time: Your boss wants the report in ten minutes, a child wants a treat now, the laundry basket is overflowing, and we badly need a haircut. The list goes on and on.
Whether you are a working parent with one, two, three or more children, or even the parent of a special needs child, the demands on you and your time seem endless.
Many of us find it difficult to prioritize our own needs above those of others. And sometimes it feels like we are losing ourselves in the process.
While it is important to take care of others, it is essential to take good care of ourselves first. Like the airlines remind us: "Put the oxygen mask onto your own face before helping small children and others". If we can't breathe or function, it's impossible for us to help others.
Taking good care of ourselves has to be a priority! Whether this means going for a run, doing yoga, meeting with friends, or just taking a few minutes to sit down and relax.
Make these rituals ruthless priorities! They help us feel better and stay sane. Plus, your children will benefit by learning and appreciating that taking good care of oneself benefits everyone. Remember: It is not selfish, it is self care.
Pointer to a thought-provoking video
UPDATE Nov 9, 2018: According to National Geographic, video highlighted below, may not be as cute and natural as originally suggested.
You will probably appreciate this video (2:20 min) if ...
Pointer to a Forbes article by Mary Beth Ferrante
Yesterday Forbes published a great article called How To Survive A Two Breadwinner Household. We love the article because it promotes many of the same ideas we promote and aligns with many of the topics we've covered recently including the following (and many more):
Thank you, MaryBeth Ferrante, for helping other dual income couples recognize the challenges so we can be sure our families thrive and we contribute to a brighter future in so many ways.
Pointer to Poppy Harlow / RBG video clip
The RBG movie (and the review we wrote) got us thinking even more about spouses and the important roles they play in our careers. In fact, it caused me to head to YouTube to learn more about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband, Marty, who are portrayed as Working Parent trail blazers.
The search led to a February 2018 interview with Ruth by CNN's Poppy Harlow. Their exchange, during the interview introductions, revealed another story about a supportive spouse; Poppy's husband, Sinisa Babcic. Watch the first minute and a half min of the video to hear the story.
"Behind every great man there stands a woman" is a phrase I often heard growing up. It was stated as a compliment and recognized the value of a supportive spouse; always a wife back then. Many years later I find myself recognizing that there is a lot of truth in that statement; a great person or great people are often supporting people who achieve anything of value. Maybe some succeed against all odds and without any support, but the vast majority of us need somebody in our court; someone or someones who want to see us succeed, encourage us to strive for more, and are willing to make at least small sacrifices to help us achieve "great things". It's the reason we encourage people to establish relationships with mentors, coaches, managers and peers.
When one's spouse can act in a supporting role, one has an advantage. When a spouse can act in multiple supporting roles, one has an even bigger advantage. It's hard to find a story that makes this point more clearly than the RBG story, but many of us have stories to tell. We've collected quite a few of them hoping that they will inspire you. Enjoy!
More stories about supportive spouses:
Pointer to HBO's new Docu-Series Being Serena
Working moms on Reddit brought our attention to the new five-part Docu-Series on HBO* called Being Serena. The series chronicals the most recent events in Serena Williams' life; from winning the Australian Open while pregnant in April 2017 right up to attending the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
But it's the stuff in-between those events that is most interesting ... and inspiring ... and thought provoking ... and relatable.
For those who don't know, Serena is married to Alexis Ohanian, one of the co-founders of Reddit, so it's especially interesting that Reddit led us to this program. Talk about a synergistic relationship!
Working parents (both moms and dads) are likely to appreciate Serena's story and find themselves relating, thinking, and being inspired as they watch.
* It appears that Being Serena is also available via On Demand until early July. More info.
Pointer to research results published by ScienceDaily
When our kids were in school, we knew a couple who were highly respected parents. Imagine my thrill when I learned that they limited their very smart and very talented son to two (or was it three?) extracurricular activities at a time. While other parents were bragging about the hours they spent shuttling their kids from activity to activity, these parents confidently let people know that they thought some reasonable limits were best for their son.
Their confidence set the example I needed to let go of any concern I had that my own kids might be falling behind because they weren't overbooked and in constant motion. It was really helpful and comforting information during a time that I needed more help and comfort!
If you would appreciate knowing that your kids don't need to be booked 24/7, look no further than this article published by ScienceDaily: Are your children overdoing it? Too many extracurricular activities can do more harm than good. It summarizes results from a small study in England and points out that "a busy organized activity schedule can ... potentially harm children's development and wellbeing." It may provide the info working parents need to better manage their time and protect their sanity.
Originally Published: May16, 2018 | Last Updated: Jun 11, 2018
Link to a video posted on Twitter
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Often we encourage our kids to persevere when they struggle. And sometimes we learn by watching them. Check out the tenatious child in this video (<1 min) that was recently posted on Twitter.
Being a working parent can be like this, but if you keep at it, and get some good advice, you're likely to have a great sense of accomplishment at the end!
Commentary on a Harvard Business Review article by Kate Weisshar
A recent Harvard Business Review article by Kate Weisshaar reported that parents (both moms and dads) who took time off from their careers to stay home with their children full-time are less likely to be interviewed for open positions than working parents who were laid off from their previous positions and out of work for the same length of time.
The article, which generated some emotionally charged reader comments, makes a case for juggling career and parenting responsibilities, if setting an example for your children via your career is important to you.
The gender pay gap gets a lot of attention. Many theories try to explain why it exists. While many spend time speculating and theorizing about it, the folks at Uber have gathered data that provides new insights. People who value fair pay, including working parents, are likely to find this info pretty interesting. (And those who want to dig deeper into the data can listen to the Freakonomics podcast: What Can Uber Teach Us About the Gender Pay Gap?)
Some believe that the gender pay gap could be reduced if workers had more flexible work hours. Uber offers its drivers total flexibility when it comes to hours worked.
Some assert that those who control pay have unconscious (or conscious) biases that result in men being paid more than women for the same work. Uber pays drivers using a gender-blind formula based on the length of a ride in miles and minutes. Additionally, the fare (which determines pay) may include "multipliers" based on customer demand at any given time. Uber's pay structure is based solely on services provided, and it's non-negotiable.
Some think that hiring can be a biased process, and we agree. At Uber work is assigned via an undeniably gender-blind process.
This means that Uber is able to provide driver pay data that is virtually devoid of gender biases. As you might imagine, researchers were eager to sift through this data. And, for a variety of reasons, they expected women Uber drivers to out-earn men by just a little or at the very least to earn the same amount as men on an hourly basis. But guess what? That's not happening.
The data shows that men make about 7% more per hour (on average) for doing the exact same job. And remember, this is in a setting where work assignments are made by a gender-blind algorithm, and the pay structure is tied directly to output and is non-negotiable. Interestingly, this 7% pay gap aligns with gender pay gaps uncovered by other studies within other work environments.
So how do they explain this?! Before jumping to the answer, it's worth noting that the volume of data available for analysis was huge; 25M driver-weeks across 196 US cities over 22 months (June 2015 - March 2017). It included >1.8M drivers and >740M Uber trips.
As the researchers dug deep into the data, here's what they found:
So while women have every opportunity to earn just as much as men when they're Uber drivers, the choices they make are lowering their average income slightly. In a nutshell, choices have consequences.
This info is compelling for working parents because it makes it really clear that career choices always have consequences. A decision to opt out of the workforce, for even a relatively short period of time like a year, can have lasting consequences. Usually we understand that and are happy to live with the consequences. But sometimes people don't understand that even a short "break" from the workforce in the early years of a career will result in unexpected and significant consequences (not to mention frustrations) down the road.
Working while raising kids is hard, but this data shows that those who figure how to make it work are more likely to find themselves satisfied over the long run if equal pay is important to them. We probably shouldn't be surprised to learn that Uber and the researchers have just confirmed that experience matters and hard work pays off.
Being a parent is hard sometimes. Being a parent with a job outside the home doesn't make things easier. And being a working parent with a special needs child often feels downright overwhelming.
As a working parent with a special needs child, I recently found myself so exhausted and heartbroken that I was confused. I didn't know whether I was feeling challenged by parenting, my special needs child, or my work environment.
So I did what I usually do when I am confused: research. I turned to Google and searched on "parents struggling with special needs children". I got a lot of results. There are tons of great blogs and articles from special needs parents, organizations, and medical institutions. It was unbelievable.
One blog entry from a mother of a special needs child was especially comforting for me. It said something like this: “If you have come to this blog because you Googled 'struggling with special needs children' you must feel very exhausted. Let me tell you: you are not alone. And believe me, what you do day in and day out is truly exhausting, and it is incredible! You are a Superhero.”
That helped me so much. Instantly. I felt validated, understood, and knew I wasn't alone.
Whether we are parents, working parents, or working parents with special needs children, what we do is important. And most importantly: we are not alone in our struggles, fears and feelings. There are others out there who feel the same way we do, and they can offer comfort, encouragement, and even inspiration.
So next time you feel worn out and tired by all of the challenges you face as a working parent, remember: You Are a Superhero!