Working Moms – It’s Time For An Oxygen Mask!
Times are tough for working moms, and this isn’t my opinion – it’s a cold, hard fact. Even before the pandemic, working moms found themselves a living yo-yo, bouncing from one direction to the next, and never really feeling comfortable that they were giving anything the amount of attention it deserved.
Then, add in a pandemic – one that just won’t seem to let up. In most families, moms have been the primary parent responsible for figuring out the rollercoaster of childcare and schooling. We’ve been caught in a never-ending hurricane of closed daycares, virtual instruction – while running your own virtual meetings, finally sending the kids back to school – only to have them shipped back home for a few weeks, quarantines, vaccines, and testing! This mom gig has been a tricky, unpredictable business lately. Managing a demanding career with the myriad of pandemic and life challenges has left an awful lot of extraordinarily competent women grasping at straws.
What the Numbers Say
According to December 2020 research by Great Place to Work and the healthcare company Maven, working moms were 28 percent more likely to experience exhaustion than fathers. While it is entirely fair to say that everyone has suffered a change in their mental health during the pandemic, according to the American Psychological Association’s March 2021 Stress in America Report, a larger share of mothers (39 percent) than fathers (25 percent) said their mental health has worsened.
Moving beyond burnout and mental health, I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that women still face significant equity issues in the workplace. The pandemic has only widened the gap and spotlighted the unequal challenges facing women. It can seem like we are constantly bumping up against glass ceilings or getting slowed down by sticky floors.
Latest Stats on Women in the Workforce
In 2021, the pay gap was 18%. That means that women can expect to earn 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. Equal Pay Day is Saturday, April 22, 2022. This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. I don’t know about you but losing three months of salary because of my gender certainly isn’t okay with me.
On June 4, 2021, Newsweek magazine ran a cover story where the headline was “$598,096 – What the Pandemic Will Cost Working Women – This is how much a typical woman stands to lose in lifetime income due to COVID. For college-educated women, it’s $785,759.” The article elaborated that women making six figures could easily lose more than $1 million. I’m not going to lie; my heart stopped when I read that stat. I, of course, purchased the magazine and spent the evening devouring it. Much of these startling stats come from the fact that women bore the lion’s share of caring for their children during the pandemic, which resulted in more than 4.5 million women leaving the workforce. This has become known in the media as the “Shecession,” and I hate that we have a trendy term for this.
Doing Nothing Is No Longer an Option
I am happy to say, though, I’ve seen some glimmers of hope. How many of us have personally witnessed women making decisions around their employment that are FINALLY beginning to prioritize themselves? Many women are deciding that on some level, either working from home or hybrid working situations are healthy for themselves and their families. I’ve also witnessed women leaving jobs that weren’t fulfilling their professional and often personal needs. This is one media-coined term that excites me a bit, “The Great Resignation.”
Delving into these stats and the personal anecdotes sparked a kernel of an idea that has been germinating in my mind throughout the last year. Working mothers, particularly those functioning at a high level, need some support and skills to help them navigate these challenges.
A New Working Mothers Leadership Program
The last year led me to develop “M.E.L.D. – Mothers. Executives. Leaders. Development,” a new, 12-month program that will connect a group of like-minded women and busy professionals. The program will provide confidence, tools, and strategic training. I want to see women becoming the best executives, leaders, mothers, and friends that they can be.
This new program is genuinely a labor of love for me, and I believe there are fundamental tools and work that women can do to help themselves overcome some of the challenges I talked about at the beginning of this post. One of the pieces that I believe will be the program’s most impactful and powerful experiences is connecting with other women experiencing similar challenges. I know that the support from a group of resilient, resourceful women is unlike any other support structure. I’m really excited to not only be in a room leading the experience, but I’m truthfully also looking forward to what I will learn and gain from this cohort.
Is Our Female Leadership Development Program Right For You?
So maybe you are wondering if this program is right for you. There are some common characteristics among women who would benefit from M.E.L.D, and here are a few that come to mind:
Mothers, executives, business owners, or leaders who often feel alone in their responsibilities and yearn for the support and connection of women who share similar experiences are a perfect fit.
Have you googled “imposter syndrome” because you think you may be suffering from it? I’m not going to lie – I’m not sure I know a single working mom who doesn’t feel this in their soul.
Are you feeling a little like you might have found an unhealthy crutch to help you cope? Heaven knows, the pandemic has made daily wine consumption, binge-eating, and doom scrolling your feed completely commonplace. And honestly – no judgment. No one will suggest you give any of these up, but maybe there are some healthier, happier coping mechanisms.
Has decision-making become a challenge? Do you feel stymied and stuck and just unable to move forward?
Is self-care on your to-do list, but it generally gets bumped to the bottom and frequently doesn’t get checked off? In the best of times, it can be hard to put your needs first – but good-grief – these last two years have been bananas. I hate to rely on an old cliché, but there is an excellent reason when you fly, during the safety instructions, you are instructed to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. It’s time for that oxygen mask, sister.
Maybe you don’t identify with every point above, and if that’s the case, GOOD! But I’m guessing a few points resonate if you read this far. However, this program has one non-negotiable characteristic: you are motivated to work and evolve into your best self. That’s it!
I am very hopeful about M.E.L.D. and the impact and perhaps even small movement we can develop here in Pittsburgh. I hope if you see yourself in any of what I’ve shared here, you will check out the program and consider applying. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions – I’d love to connect.