Why the Working Mother Has It Right
Before I explain why I believe the working mother has it right, I want to set one thing straight. This post is not about working mothers versus stay-at-home mothers. This piece is about people in the workforce. Second, this piece is about those working salary jobs in an office setting. The points in this post do not apply to hourly workers with scheduled shifts; employees who cannot adjust their schedule without a different employee not previously expected to work covering their shift. I know that working mothers set great examples in those roles, too. However, the points in this piece might not directly apply.
Now, on to the post: Why the Working Mother Has It Right
There has been a lot of
Hearing the opinion of working mothers deserving less really upset me.
While now I have the privilege of working for myself and making my schedule, for over three years I was a mother working a corporate job. Throughout my corporate leadership tenure, I had the opportunity to work with a strong group of leaders who were mostly women and almost all had kids. Some of the most senior leaders were even single parents. It wasn’t shameful or a curse to be a working mother in my department. Those I worked with taught me a lot about balancing being a parent with succeeding in the workplace. I saw mothers who did not think twice about staying home when their kids were sick, mothers who took long lunches to go to a function at their child’s school, and mothers who arrived early but left the office every day by 4:30 to pick up their children. I also saw these same mothers being recognized and promoted for the value they added to the company.
From my experience, I think we all need to follow the lead set by these mothers in the workforce. Why?
Goals and deadlines do not suffer
Before I had kids, I loved being busy at work. I would often ask for additional projects, backup accounts when my peers were out of the office and never turned down a request for my help. Even when it was too much to complete in the standard
It allows dads to be active fathers
When I turned in my notice, I was reporting to one of the few male leaders in my department. The working mothers in our office helped to reinforce that he could be successful in the office and still be an active parent. He left the office by 4:30 every day to pick up his daughter from daycare. I have seen this with other men. When they have kids, they start to leave the office around 5 p.m. instead of staying late. It’s important to be a part of their kids lives; to be a part of dinner, bath time, and bedtime. These men still contributed significantly to the company. They achieved the same levels of accomplishments that they did before children. Just like when a woman decides to be an active parent, the company does not suffer because a man decides to be an active parent. If more companies accepted the schedule of a working mother, we might allow more men to become active fathers.
Adjusting schedules does not stop productivity
While everyone at my previous company worked a full day, our schedules differed from person to person. Some parents on the leadership team were in charge of drop off, others were in charge of the pickup, and some did both. To help with this, it became standard that any meeting that started before 9 a.m. or after 4:30 p.m. would have a conference bridge. We were productive and there for our teams even if it was over the phone. It’s hard to put into words what it felt like working in this environment. To not be judged by your peers for calling into a meeting. To not be looked down on when you have to transition in the middle of a meeting from being physically present to
So you do not have kids. Why should you care?
Work should be just a part of your life, not all your life
You might say that the norms in your company do not allow for this type of schedule. That is exactly my point. We need to work to change the standards. Work-life balance should not be a dirty phrase. A goal of every employee in the workplace should be to make work a part of their life and not all their life. I’m not saying that long days are never needed. Sometimes you need to put in extra time to meet a deadline. Long days should just not be the norm.
Long work hours can cause health issues
Studies have shown that people who work long hours have more physical and mental health problems. The American Journal of Epidemiology said that individuals who consistently work extra hours, compared to a standard
We all have a point of diminishing returns
There is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to hours worked. While the exact point will differ for each person, productivity will decrease after too many hours have been worked. Look at it this way; you have two employees. Both are focused employees that spend their time working versus getting distracted by items or people in the office. One works eight hours days and the other works 10 hours days. If the point of diminishing returns is eight hours, the employee who is working 10 hours is not completing two additional hours of work. They are physically there two extra hours, but they are not 100% mentally focused for those additional hours. If we know that employees are not completing the same standard of work after the point of diminishing returns, why make it a norm for employees to work an extended
My Conclusion on Working Mothers
“Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day; they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done,” said by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson in the book Rework. If a mother can work a 40 hour week while still completing assignments and achieving goals, why can’t everyone? Mothers are focused, efficient, and using their time wisely. Working mothers all over are showing that it is possible to succeed in the office while being active with their family. Working mothers are playing the game right. They are focused and ending the day before they are no longer productive. It is the time we start modeling after mothers in the workplace instead of saying they are subpar employees. It's time we start modeling after mothers in the office instead of labeling them subpar employees Click To Tweet