Motherhood in 2021 – Among diapers, deadlines and disinfectants

Motherhood has never been an easy job for that we are sure!
It’s a full-time job, and there’s no doubt about it. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, balancing motherhood and being a working professional has become an arduous task. We always hear that mother’s have two jobs: their jobs, and taking care of the children. But this past year has been incredibly tough! Although mothers have been expected to juggle domestic labor with work for much of history, they were reliant on their communities —Like family members or friends — to assume some of the childcare when they were too busy.  Before COVID-19, mothers were able to go to work and take the kids to school and separate these two aspects of their lives. In some instances, women are taking voluntary furlough or redundancy, prioritizing childcare over their careers. The impact has been compounded by the reluctance to offer women part-time or flexible work.

Work and home-life balance is key to living a healthy life during these challenging times. It’s never easy to find that balance, but it is possible and that’s why a company’s culture and support is really important to make this possible.

Now, women, and mothers in particular, are taking on an even heavier load. Mothers are more than three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for most of the housework and caregiving during the pandemic. (Mckinsey and Company, 2021)

Forum Desai, Mismo’s co-founder and CEO shared a few of the most challenging aspects of being a remote-working mother. For her, the blurry lines between work time and personal time are a challenge. Keeping these two aspects separate is a new chore. There are also interruptions that you wouldn’t consider before, like a doorbell ringing. Sometimes, the hardest one can be that your kids can take you for granted and assume that if mom is at home, she must be free to play. Fabiana, our associate, considers that being 100% into your job and 100% into taking care of the kids is the hardest part of being a working from home mom. Balancing home life and work is necessary.

Motherhood changes constantly, and with global occurrences like a pandemic, even more. Being work-from-home moms also allows them to spend more time with their children than they did before. Mothers often feel guilty because they couldn’t spend a lot of time at home with the kids because of work. Now, the bonding time has dramatically expanded, and the guilt has been alleviated. Here are a few tips on how the dynamic has changed for our founder, Forum Desai:

  • “I schedule meetings so that I can be there to pick up/drop off my kids from school and make them a snack once they are back from school.”
  • “I have a lot more flexibility to keep them at home if they are not feeling well or need to go to the doctors.”
  • “I save 2 hours of commute time to the office, so I can use it for myself – like exercising, or watching the news in the morning, or playing with my kids!”
  • “I feel like I’m generally a lot less stressed, and can perform better at work, and be a better mom to my kids!”

As you can see, it isn’t necessarily all bad. There needs to be balance. For example, having extra time can mean the world for someone used to a very rigid schedule of work without having some alone time. For Forum, being able to go on mid-day walks with her daughter and their dog or working at her desk with her daughter while she does her artwork are a few of her favorite mother-child activities. Fabiana, our associate, considers that staying home with her kid whenever he’s sick of being home in case of an emergency has been a massive relief for her because she feels safe and confident that she’s there in case anything was to happen. It is also a huge perk for Fabiana to stay at home and be with her son during his milestones. He’s still a baby but is growing quite fast, so being there for him during these times is very important.

Working from home also brings with it a lot of funny stories. Since women worldwide are not only trying to adapt to being mothers but also working-from-home mothers, a few mishaps are bound to happen. For example, Forum shared with us that she was in a meeting one time, and her older daughter was in the room with her. She didn’t know her mom wasn’t on mute and started singing Beyonce loudly! Everyone had a good laugh. Fabiana shared with us that she once was in a meeting, doing an interview, when her son came in without a diaper and was all dirty while cooking dinner. She ran to the bathroom to shower him but then started smelling burning meat. She ran back and saw that the fire alarm and smoke detectors went off. They evacuated the whole building, and firefighters arrived. This is an excellent example of always doing our best even if it isn’t perfect.

It is near impossible to be a working mom and do it alone. We all need a little support sometimes. It can be from a family member, spouse, friend, employer, or anyone. It takes a village to raise children, and about twice as much as if they stay at home or their moms are. Mismo has supported Forum through motherhood because it has a very flexible work culture. At Mismo, family, and health always come before work, so she never felt bad if she had to reschedule a meeting because she had to attend to her sick kids or if she had to take a 30-second break during a zoom call to answer the doorbell. Everyone at Mismo understands that work is a part of life, it’s not life itself, so they keep it in perspective.

“Working from home can be a double-edged sword” (Desai, 2021). Here are a few tips Forum would give to her working mothers:

  • Try to set working hours, and then get out of the home office/turn off work phone/emails during family time
  • Push back on super early morning or late meetings – meetings that you otherwise would not be able to take if you were commuting to the office
  • Take it easy with interruptions – sometimes working moms can be hard on themselves when their kids are making noise in the background or interrupting during a ZOOM meeting. I’d encourage them to take it easy on themselves – everyone deals with these interruptions. It’s just one of the things with working from home.

Fabiana made a great point, and it is never to judge yourself if you are a working mom from home. You are doing the best you can. Things will never be perfect, but they don’t have to be. Sometimes moms want to do everything themselves and do it perfectly. And even though they are Super Moms, sometimes it can be too much, even for a superhero. Try not to stress out too much when it comes to it since you are doing the absolute best.

During this Mother’s Day (and any other day, really), let’s never forget to thank the women in our lives for always doing the best they can to try to survive balancing work and life. It is never easy to be a mom, never. But from all the jobs, it’s the most rewarding and special of all. Therefore, let’s embrace motherhood, support any working moms and make the most out of this day.

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