If you’re a working mother or expecting mother, you probably know that feeling. The feeling that everybody wants something from you, but nobody’s giving back. The feeling of having to be strong and on point every hour of the day, without a break. It often seems like you’re completely on your own. The good news is, you’re not.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 78 percent of moms with children under 18 are working, and three quarters of them are full time. So that feeling? There are 25.1 million other women in America who are feeling it right along with you.
>span class="s2">Pew research shows that dads are increasingly taking up the household work and child care, full equality is still a distant horizon. All too often it’s still the women, single or married, who get stuck with most of the household chores and child rearing, leaving 40 percent of working moms saying they always feel rushed. Compare that to only 25 percent of working dads who say the same about themselves.
So while more women and moms are entering the workforce, that doesn’t mean they’re striking the ideal work-life balance. If you’re a pregnant working woman or a working mother supporting a career and a family, how do you support yourself as well?
With so many others relying on you, your comfort and health aren’t just about you. The slightest ailment or physical irritation can have cascading effects in your workplace and home. With no one else to take care of you, it’s important to take care of yourself. And if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the board members and the kids who rely on you to be at your best.
Pregnant? Take a Boppy to work with you to keep you comfortable in your chair. Taking care to sit comfortably and in manageable doses can save your lower back, hedge against fatigue, and even prevent hemorrhoids.
Already got hemorrhoids? Don’t ignore them. Okay, maybe don’t talk about them at work, either, but they’re common during pregnancy and they can be horrid if you sit for long hours at the office. Pharmaceutical innovations like Citius Pharma’s hydrocortisone-lidocaine cream are stepping up the topical game to help with hemorrhoid management. It’s poised to be the first FDA-approved hemorrhoid management cream on the market.
There are innumerable ways to keep yourself comfortable as you work and mother, and it’s highly individual. So find what’s working best for you and stick with it.
Let Go of Guilt
Working moms carry a considerable burden of guilt. It’s because you’re breaking generations of heavily gendered social norms. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whatever society says or used to say about working mothers, your guilt is your own. Guilt dissolves the instant you decide to let go of it.
Just as your physical health and comfort are an important responsibility, your emotional and mental health are too. So take responsibility for your sense of guilt and manage it intelligently. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Jenny McCarthy, and Eckhart Tolle, McCarthy outlined three main types of maternal guilt:
- The guilt of going to work and leaving your child with a nanny
- The guilt of getting bored from playing with your child too much
- The guilt of feeling somehow responsible for your child’s affliction (e.g. autism, in the case of McCarthy’s son)
Tolle, author of The Power of Now, says “there's a certain structure in [our] thought processes that produces the feeling of guilt.” Changing the content of your day won’t help anything, he says, because the guilt will always find a way back regardless of what you’re physically doing. So instead, change the structure of your thoughts.
“If you can recognize them as thoughts generated by the ego, structural, not content based, then in the moment of recognition, they begin to lose their power over you.” Guilt is one of the most useless and unproductive thought structures in the human mind. Let go of it, and things will improve.
Guilt, fatigue, and feeling rushed can rob us of our ability to experience down time. But down time is critical for our well being, and therefore critical to our careers and families as well. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and make personal time a priority, starting today. There’s only one way to actually make this happen: write it in your schedule.
If everyone knows that Wednesday you leave two hours early for a hot yoga session, guess what? The world will adapt. Your family will work around it. Life will go on, and you’ll be a stronger, happier person for it. Your productivity will go up, but that’s not the point. The point is you’ll feel like a human being again.
Remember that powerful though you are, powering through is not always the answer. Every living thing needs periods of rest to punctuate intense stretches of productivity. It’s how we survive, and it’s how we thrive.