Infographic: Working Mothers Statistics
Working Mom, at Home and on the Job
Read more about New Moms
When we think about mothers’ work-life balance, we often picture two distinct options. A new mom can stay home with the kids and put her career on hold, or she can return to work and face the stress and guilt of leaving her baby each day. The reality, though, is that navigating work-life balance is much more complicated than those polarized choices suggest.
In an effort to retain their talented female workers, many companies now offer a variety of work-life perks, including flex time. For a new mom, being able to come in an hour late to accommodate a day care’s drop-off time can either mean she willingly returns from maternity leave to the same job or drops the job soon after for a more accommodating employer.
In some cases, flex time can become a bone of contention among coworkers, with other employees feeling that they have to pick up the slack for the moms among them. To ease that tension, some employers make a point of insisting that work-life balance is for everyone. If mothers get to leave early to take care of the kids, with plans to make up the time later, fathers should get the same concession. And if childless workers want some flexibility to care for an aging parent or train for a triathlon (as part of a business wellness program), that’s fine too. Leveling the playing field can keep everyone working as a team.
If your employer doesn’t have a flex time program, check out these resources from When Work Works to help steer it in the right direction.
The Office-less Office
For professional workers, technology is beginning to fulfill its promise of freeing employees to do their jobs from wherever they happen to be. Working from home isn’t for everyone, but for some, it can improve efficiency and eliminate time-wasting commutes. For working mothers, telecommuting is a blessing that lets them jump from a conference call to after-school pick-up in seconds. On the other hand, telecommuters need to make special efforts to set boundaries so they don’t end up fighting a major deadline while trying to dish out a snack to a screaming toddler. In other words, telecommuters need to make their work schedule clear to those in their personal life and avoid any assumptions that they’re available for extra chores just because they’re home on a Thursday afternoon.
The New Family Balancing Act
Women have been working outside the home since the first Homo sapiens wove a basket and went looking for berries, but the current model of women working for pay on a relatively equal playing field with men is still fairly new. It stands to reason that a family where mom works as much as dad requires dad to take on new responsibilities at home, and, indeed, research shows that’s what’s happening. Those shifting dynamics can sometimes add stress to a relationship, but they can also develop empathy between partners – each parent understands what the other one is going through, whether it’s a battering day at the office or two straight hours of bouncing a screaming baby.
For maximum flexibility in how much they work, moms and dads can benefit from getting their finances in order. They may find they need to change the way they manage their finances as they take on new costs with the new baby and one of them scales back – or even eliminates – their working hours. Check out these CreditDonkey resources on getting credit card balances in order to minimize debt and finding the best ways to get cash back on groceries and gas.
(Graphic Writing by Maria; Graphic Design by Dex; Additional Writing by Livia; Editing by Sarah)
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