Lindsay Cross’s 2012 Grindstone article boldly claims that women who take advantage of company benefits designed for working parents, for example, flexible schedule and telecommuting, are penalized for making those choices.
She goes on to say, “Ladies who tough out their “work life balance” without these niceties have a better chance of keeping up with their childless peers – i.e. men. Because while there’s definitely a gap between moms and child-free women, being a dad actually increases the likelihood that you’ll get that next raise.”
So is the fact that we are even discussing work-life balance a sexist, gender-based discussion? Do men stand around the water-cooler and discuss how hard it is to keep up with work, manage the house, and raise the kids?
The Double Parent claims to still need feminism because people still talk about working mothers, but never talk about working fathers, and asks when you ever heard anyone ask a man when he was going back to work after the baby?
Print media offers Working Mother magazine to help mothers deal with the stress of balancing kids and career, and there are probably a million “mommy bloggers” sharing their concept of the work-life balance and what works for their family.
Is there a Working Father edition that we don’t know about? Are there as many “daddy bloggers”? Mommy bloggers and mom-entrepreneurs have built a successful multi-million dollar blog, product review, and conference enterprise around the whole concept of giving women a work-life balance by blogging from home. But obviously, not everyone can blog and work from home and more workers can’t than can.
So what can we do for the rest of the working mothers out there?
First we need to realize and accept that mothers who work full time caring for their families still work and they still need balance. Women are not sacrificial lambs on the sacred alter of family or work. All mothers are working mothers. Whether or not women stay at home or work part or full time outside the home, women do seem to be more at risk of not finding balance in their lives. This lack of balance is often felt as guilt.
Mothers feel guilt because they face more pressure than men face when it comes to “juggling” the various aspects of life – mother guilt is real and it is dangerous. Mothers feel guilty when they take care of themselves. Mothers feel guilty if they work too much and they feel guilty if they (appear to) work too little. In fact, no matter what they do, mothers feel guilty.
So perhaps what mothers need is more self-acceptance and less self-criticism. Perhaps women need to stop criticizing other women (for how they look, don’t look, parent, don’t parent, work, don’t work etc. etc.) and become more supportive of other women and mothers both in and out of the workplace.
Another woman’s success doesn’t diminish your success in life. Men simply need to be more supportive of women in all areas of women’s lives. Freeing ourselves from negative judgment makes room for positive acceptance. That would certainly help bring balance and harmony.
Let’s try to understand that what works for one may not necessarily work for us and that in the balancing act of life, there is no absolute rights and wrongs.
(Then there’s that old joke about working women needing what working men have – a wife at home! I’ll save that one for another time and place.)
Are you a single mother looking for support as you juggle kids, life, and career, then I recommend The Double Parent blog and facebook community for sympathy, support, advice, and humour – and most importantly, a much needed sense of community.
What works for you? If you’re a working mum, we’d love to hear how you manage? Please comment below with any advice, tips, stories, and sources you think might benefit other working mothers.