Working Motherhood & Mental Health

Shining a Light During Mental Health Awareness Month

As the month of May – Mental Health Awareness Month and the month in which we honor moms on Mother’s Day – comes to a close, we’re reflecting on some of the many unique struggles working mothers face. Juggling the demands of a career and fulfilling the responsibilities of motherhood, all while trying to show up in the countless other roles that working moms play can take a toll on mental well-being.

The Double/Triple/Quadruple Burden:

Working mothers often find themselves carrying the weight of dual, triple, quadruple, and so forth responsibilities: their professional obligations, their role as caregivers, their role as partners, friends, volunteers, and so forth. Working mothers are constantly being pulled in multiple directions. According to the 2022 Harris Poll data commissioned by CVS Health, 42% of working mothers have been diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression while 35% of working fathers and 25% of coworkers without kids have received that diagnosis. Balancing work deadlines, meetings, and expectations with the needs of their children and households can create a perpetual state of overwhelm. The constant pressure to excel in various domains and roles can lead to high levels of stress and burnout.

The “invisible load” – that is heavily cognitive and emotional – of motherhood is much more than one person can carry.

Societal Expectations, Lack of Support, and Work-Life Balance:

The immense pressure working mothers experience can be both internal and external. Society often places unrealistic expectations on working mothers, creating a sense of guilt when they are unable to meet or exceed them. More than 70% of women in the workforce have children, yet the battle for adequate support and work-life balance is ongoing. Despite large percentages of the workforce being parents, stigmas surrounding working parenthood persist. More than 1 in 5 working parents say they’ve been treated as if they aren’t committed to their work because they have children and 72% of working mothers don’t feel supported at work.

The boundaries between work life and personal life have blurred and 50% of employees say that work stress impacts their personal lives. Many workplaces have yet to fully adapt to the needs of working parents, leaving mothers to navigate demanding schedules without proper accommodations. When it comes to these blurred boundaries, mothers are 40% more likely than fathers to report that childcare issues have harmed their careers. After becoming a parent, women take less care of their mental health than men, reinforcing the importance of implementing supports for working moms particularly during periods of transition and major life events like becoming a parent.

Working mothers are said to be superheroes (and we are not saying otherwise, in fact, all moms are superheroes). But, if superheroes are supposed to do everything for everyone, then who is left to lift up the heroes themselves?

Self-Care and Prioritizing Mental Health:

If you are in the throes of the brilliantly messy, exhausting yet rewarding, often chaotic and sleep-deprived journey that is working motherhood, here are some strategies that can help you prioritize self-care and your mental health:

  1. Seek support: You are deserving of the support you give others. Build a network of supportive friends, family, and fellow working mothers who can provide empathy, understanding, and practical assistance when needed.
  2. Set boundaries: Learn to say no and establish boundaries to prevent overcommitting and spreading yourself too thin. It’s okay to prioritize self-care and take breaks when necessary. Remember: saying no to one thing often means saying yes to something else.
  3. Practice self-compassion: Remind yourself that you are doing your best, and it’s okay to make mistakes or ask for help. Tell yourself: “My best is enough.”
  4. Time management: Efficient time management can help alleviate stress. Prioritize tasks, delegate when possible (AKA ask for and accept help), and establish a structured routine to create a sense of balance and control to better navigate those days where it feels like there will never be enough time in the world. Check out some of our favorite time management strategies here.
  5. Take breaks and engage in self-care activities: Carve out time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. This can include exercise, meditation, doing a puzzle, reading a book, or spending quality time with loved ones. Be curious and make time for play! Whatever you do, do it for you.

 

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