Women wear many hats every day. That’s especially true for women juggling families and careers. Chauffeur, negotiator, advocate, moderator, mom, wife, and employee are just some of the titles that apply to modern women.
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Census Bureau indicate women represent nearly half of the United States workforce, but women still devote more time than men to housework and child care. While few are advocating for traditional gender roles of the past to be reinstated, a 2012 Pew Research survey found that very few adults (16 percent) indicated having a mother who works full-time is the “ideal situation” for the family. Nearly 42 percent said a mother who works part-time is ideal. Even among full-time working mothers, only about 20 percent said that having a full-time working mother is ideal for young children.
“Ideal” is not always practical, and since the Pew survey, the workforce has changed in many ways, particularly by the number of employers who have adopted family-friendly policies or pivoted to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic. That means working moms have even greater leverage to find a balance that works for their unique situations. These tips can help women free up more time for what’s most meaningful to them.
• Employ time-saving strategies. Embrace ways to save time during the day. Order groceries online during a lunch break and pick them up curbside after work. Pool resources with a neighbor to cover school transportation if busing is not provided. Schedule conference calls during commutes so they don’t eat into the rest of the day.
• Define your priorities. Think about what cannot be compromised or negotiated. Maybe that is being home at a particular time each day so the family enjoys dinner together. Get clear ideas of what you value most so you can build plans around those priorities.
• Take vacation time. Make it a point to use all vacation time, coordinating days off to coincide with family members’ days off. Family vacations offer the best shots at uninterrupted, enjoyable time together. They should be ranked highly and scheduled early to ensure travel is possible.
• Use technology to stay connected. There are times when the family may not be able to gather in person. This became evident at the start of the pandemic, when social distancing and isolation became a cautionary tactic to prevent disease proliferation. If the kids are missing you or you are missing the kids at any time during the day, a video chat can be just what everyone needs to feel better.
• Outsource housework and chores with smart ideas. If the budget is there, hire a housekeeper to come in weekly to tame messes around the house. A “mom’s helper” can be hired to come in and tend to certain needs. Family calendar apps can serve as personal assistants to keep track of family appointments. Clothing subscription boxes save time and provide a way to have carefully curated outfits shipped right to your home. A robot vacuum can tame dog fur on the rug while you are working in a home office. These ideas can free up additional time to spend with the family.
Working mothers can employ strategies to ensure ample time can be devoted to the ones they love.