I’ve had a ridiculous few number of weeks at work, where I’ve been in a sort of survival mode, trying to cram all the work I can into the hours I can devote to working. I’ve been fortunate that my husband this week worked from home two days; so on those days I’ve had the luxury of working 12 or 13 hours without having to worry about juggling the rest of our life.
Which is why I posted my “confessions” post yesterday about some of my shortcuts. Because I know that shortcuts are a way of life, and we didn’t take them, things wouldn’t get done… and I would not have time for the important stuff.
I read an article called “The State of Working Moms” yesterday, a little bit of nothing, really, that spouts some statistics in advance of care.com releasing results of a survey they took of working mothers. The article is here if you want to look at it.
Some of the statistics they use for the article are dubious – for example, the article says that 11% of women confess they’re afraid that their hectic schedules are preventing them from making lasting connections with their children but 29% refuse to hire help.
What about the other 89% of women? How do THEY feel? And 61% HAVE actually hired help, so isn’t that encouraging?
But there were some compelling numbers in there, too.
1 in 4 working moms cry at least once a week.
80% of working mothers feel stressed about getting everything done.
79% of working mothers feel as if they are falling behind.
Those were compelling enough to me that I forwarded the article to the controller of my client, who is brutally honest about her issues in juggling her stupidly busy job and her two children and one stepchild. Her response was immediate. YES! She said over email. This is me!
And then it was the first topic of conversation in the meeting we had yesterday with the General Counsel, back working full time only this week after having a baby – her first – at the end of August. The General Counsel said that her life was so ridiculous right now, all she could do at the end of the day was laugh at the lunacy of it all.
I forwarded it to my friend Katie, who has a 3:20am alarm set each morning to ensure that she either gets a run in before her long commute to Boston, and she sent me a response that was pretty similar to the controller’s.
THIS is why I dislike Sheryl Sandberg’s philosophy.
How can women lean in and help each other if they’re crying on a weekly basis because they are overwhelmed?
The article goes on to suggest three things which could help a woman handle the stress. Connect with friends, write in a journal, and get some exercise.
YES. Those are important things.
Those 12 hour workdays are started, generally, with a run. I’ve started meeting Katie for them in the city, since we’re both there early and want to run before the workday starts. We call them our WTF o’clock runs, and the whole time we’re running, we talk about how much we need to find balance between training for a race, wanting a new personal record… and making sure we keep finding the joy in our running. It’s SUCH an important outlet for our stress that we need to make sure we don’t burn out or get injured.
And I write. I started journaling again this summer, and I cannot tell you how much it’s helped. Somehow the act of writing, putting words to my anxiety and worry and fears and anger allows me to step out of feeling like I’m going to drown in whatever it is I’m feeling.
It totally works for me.
But then I look at my career. I work less than full time. I am a consultant, which means I have a hell of a lot more flexibility with my schedule than the controller or general counsel or my friend Katie.
So how do we fix the issue for women like them, successful, strong women who are invested in their careers and trying to juggle a family life?
Maybe we can start talking – really connecting.
Let’s talk about how we’re all busy and barely making it through some days. Let’s commiserate about the fact that there are mornings within moments of waking up we are wishing it was time for wine. Let’s share the shortcuts we all take. Let’s celebrate happy we are that we made it through another work week, though we still have more work to do and we have no idea when or how it’s going to get done. Let’s talk about how we’re not “off” this weekend, how we have do laundry and clean and unload the dishwasher and buy cub scout uniforms and indoor soccer shoes and get a pumpkin to decorate and crap, we need to get Halloween candy (with an extra bag because it’s the week before and OMG! CHOCOLATE!) and maybe this is the weekend we’ll get a kitten.
Okay, that’s just me. BUT.
We’re all in this being a busy working mom thing together.
Let’s talk about it.
Do you feel overwhelmed as a working parent? What strategies do you employ to help you cope?