COVID-19 shut down our offices in Lisbon, along with everything else. Meaning my daughter, Magali, couldn’t go to school anymore. It also meant my wife and I would be working from home indefinitely. That’s a pretty common story these days, and everyone is handling it in different ways.
But it got me thinking how often we miss the chance to talk to working moms about how they’re feeling. Everyone takes for granted that the moms of the world will suck it up and figure it out. And we do. But we should talk about these things more honestly. It’s tough, and we need to be there for each other to show it’s okay to be exhausted or stressed. I want to talk about how real awesome working moms are getting through this.
So I thought I’d chat with Paule, our Head of CX (and resident ASMR boss - as you can see in this Relaxing Product Update). Her daughter is three and bursting with energy. What’s life like for her?
Appearances can be deceiving
All people have different ways of decompressing and dealing with everything. For some it can be sports, for some it can be reading. For me, it’s dancing in the kitchen with my daughter. Moms need other people to understand that they might need to decompress, they need time by themselves totally alone, they need time to talk about totally different things,” ~ Paule
When I first asked Paule to chat about this topic for the blog, she laughed out loud. Apparently, just a few hours before, she’d been on a video call when her daughter decided to jump up on the dining room table behind her and walk around on it. The people on the call thought it was adorable (and I’m sure it was), but it left Paule feeling less professional.
That’s why she laughed.
Because she wasn’t feeling like a badass mom rocking her job when that happened. And I’ve totally been there — especially when things are just sort of out of your control. But to the rest of our team and me, she’s always so on top of everything. We see her totally differently than she sees herself, and that’s a harsh realization for me.
See, she’s only been a part of our team for about a year, but she’s made enough impact for three years (minimum). I mean, she’s involved in everything in the best ways. She knows how to manage, she’s working split shifts, she’s an amazing team motivator…
I could go on. So with all of that going for her, and a daughter who clearly adores her, it’s hard to hear that sometimes she feels like she isn’t measuring up.
You’ve got this, right?
“Some people might think I have it under control, you know, with a kid and working and COVID-19. I just want to emphasize that from the sidelines it might look like everything is fine, BUT each day can be very different. Sometimes you feel like ‘Ok I have everything under control,’ and sometimes you feel like, ‘I just can’t deal with anything,’” ~ Paule
I agree. Call them Working Moms if you have to - but they still need to have the time to be their own person, independent of their work & their family. Yes, those factors make up parts of who we are as humans, but we also need space to be our own beings. And that’s tough on a normal day, not to mention one with lockdown and shut schools.
After our chat, Paule sent me a voice memo. She’d just found out that her 3-year-old’s school is reopening in June. Basically, that gave her two weeks to come up with a strategy for her family.
“What should I do? Should I let my kid go to school and socialize? Our offices aren’t reopening then. I’m really torn between letting her socialize and learn new things and keeping her home. I’m trying to figure out what’s best and safest, it just adds a new layer of complexity to everything.” ~ Paule
So what do you do? During our initial call, she mentioned that it was tough to balance enrichment activities for her daughter with working full-time. Of course, her boyfriend is a huge source of help and support, but he also works full-time. Yes, this is the point where we all are incredibly thankful for the educators and daycare workers of the world that allow us to strike that balance normally.
But now, how do you choose?
Will our kids fall behind if they don’t go back?
Will they be safe if they do?
"Working Mom Guilt" isn’t new but it’s POWERFUL
This all kind of funneled into one big topic — mom guilt. We’ve all heard about it, we’ve all learned to live with it, but it still hurts. And watching another mother that I admire feel that way just sucks. I don’t know how else to put it.
This mom role isn’t to be taken lightly, and that is tough even for me to remember. But when I look at members of my team and see them taking on the challenge, it reminds me that I need to be a little kinder to myself. No one is perfect, but no one expects themselves to be perfect like a working mom does. That’s just setting ourselves up for failure, and we don’t need it. Chances are if you care enough to feel down about “not being good enough,” you’re probably already fantastic.
But this isn’t some post to gloss over things and paint a happy face on ourselves. This is to say that being a working mom is hard on any given day, and it’s been especially hard during this pandemic. If you’re on a team with a mom (or even just happen to be on a call with one), ask her how it’s REALLY going. We all need an honest outlet, and now’s a great time to open those lines of communication and be there for each other.
P.s. In case you were wondering why we hadn’t written in a few weeks, you probably have a better understanding now. Thanks for sticking with us working moms!
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