Telework Moms: What Employers Should Remember
Updated: Jan 2, 2021
Over the past few months, one thing that has caught my attention is the concept of “telework moms.” If you don’t know, a telework mom is a mother that works from home, while utilizing the internet, computer and, of course, telephone. Now, to most, this may not sound like a bad thing, and don’t get me wrong there are many advantages to mothers working from home, but there are also many drawbacks. The demands of corporate America are already strenuous enough as it is, but for mothers working from home during this pandemic, the stress can become overwhelming.
The reason why telework moms tend to have higher demands is because “the burden of parenting and housework has not fallen equally on men and women,” according to an article written by Forbes.
The studies it focuses on shows that even when both parents are working from home and share household and child-care responsibilities, it is the moms who overextend themselves in order to take care of their children. It can go one of two ways: either the mom cuts back on her working hours to take care of her household, or stretch themselves thin by trying to do both at the same time, (which may sound impossible, but us moms make it happen). It turns out that the pandemic has highlighted the gender inequality for working parents even more and is causing long-term ripple effects as a result. These ripple effects could be anything from women tending to pursue less demanding careers to them being more likely to get laid off, to them being less likely to get promoted.
Another drawback for telework moms is that many of them are not given the flexibility they need, or deserve. Flexibility is key when it comes to balancing time worked at home and time spent in the office. At my place of work, there is no such thing as flexibility because we are told to always be available.
A memo sent from corporate informs that “when we are working from home it’s not for childcare” as if my only concern should only ever be my work. And it also poses the question of what exactly are the working hours for those in upper management positions? Usually, we work until all of our tasks are finished, but that just means going into the office early and taking work home with you at night. Mothers already feel a sense of guilt when it comes to working long hours, myself included. So, when companies make working at home more of a chore than it should be, or hold it over people's head as if it’s a privilege that only a select few are worthy of, it doesn’t alleviate mothers’ stress and guilt in the least. It’s almost laughable how our employers expect us to push our kids to the wayside in favor of our work, something that can fuel our guilt and feed into our stress even more.
Although many telework moms may feel guilty for their long working hours and believe that they are not making an impact on their children’s lives, the truth is that there is no real correlation between these two factors. In actuality, it is the feeling of being disgruntled after coming home from work, and the negative feelings that moms unintentionally express to their children, that not cause children to be unhappy with their parents, but increases their likelihood of becoming bullies. Did this just blow your mind, because this definitely surprised me! In fact, there is a study that interviewed moms and their children on what they thought their own, or their mother’s, strengths and weaknesses were. It turns out that the very same qualities that the moms saw as flaws, their children saw as strengths. Do you guys understand how significant this is? The very qualities that you may have been doubting yourself or feeling guilty for could be the very same qualities that your kids appreciate the most.
So... I decided to conduct a little experiment of my own! It's super simple and any mom can do this, too. Just like in the study, I identified my best and worst qualities, and my two oldest boys, who are 11 and 8 years old, were asked by someone other than myself what they thought my best qualities were. It turns out that my oldest son, Caleb, thinks that I am loyal, and my middle son, Luke, loves that I am hardworking. Let me explain…when they were asked to give examples of what they felt were my best qualities, Caleb said that he appreciates how I am always there for them and that I’m always available to them when they need help with their work or want to have a movie night together. Luke explained that because I work so hard I am able to provide for my family and appreciates that I am so dedicated. Honestly, I always thought that I didn’t spend enough time with my boys, and that when we were hanging out together and in each other’s space, they didn’t always have my undivided attention because I was constantly doing work. Hearing what my boys had to say has definitely been reassuring to me. Really, it just goes to show that you never know what your kids are thinking until you actually ask them!
So stop beating yourself up and try to let go of any guilt about your feelings because, chances are, your kids are doing everything but blaming you for all the hard work you’ve been doing.