Recently I spoke on a webinar panel along with some other local NWA business leaders about navigating COVID-19 as a working mom and the unique difficulties quarantine circumstances have imposed during this time. I and other female leaders on the call shared how overwhelmed we have felt as we try to keep up with both work and home, and how we often feel like we are failing at both.
Those attending the webinar also shared struggles they are facing in their careers during this time. Many are frustrated, feeling that working from home due to COVID has stifled their career growth or was affecting their ability to deliver their goals.
Here are just a few of the things we shared in the hopes helping working moms to continue to thrive in the workplace during the pandemic:
Prioritize the best uses of your time
Be okay with saying no to good things, even if they are things you would do under normal circumstances. Saying no to some good things frees up your capacity to deliver the best things. If you aren’t sure what your “best things” are, take some time to identify your top 3 priorities at home and at work in this season.
If you need additional flexibility during this time, make sure to communicate that clearly with your manager. As Brene Brown says, “Clear is kind.” It’s kind to yourself and to your manager. Your manager may not understand your situation, so intentional communication may go a long way to helping you both maintain a healthy working relationship.
Seek out feedback
Ask your manager for regular touchpoints and make it easy for them to deliver both positive and constructive feedback. Receiving feedback can be difficult and awkward in the best of scenarios, and is particularly hard in a virtual environment, but don’t let that prevent you from growing through feedback. Ask your manager for regular touchpoints and make it easy for them to deliver both positive and constructive feedback.
If you have preferences on how feedback is provided, share your preferences with your manager. This will only help them feel more comfortable and willing to have these conversations.
Set clear goals and break down to manageable actions by quarter
Large goals are best achieved by breaking them down to bite-size chunks: – weekly to do’s, quarterly priorities, etc. are great ways to keep long term goals top of mind so you can make continuous progress toward them. This is particularly important in the craziness of a working mom’s day, where it is easy to get lost in a personal and professional task list a mile long.
It’s important not only to set these goals but to make sure you are communicating them to your manager. Provide updates on your progress or any barriers that you are facing to deliver – even if those barriers are personal or childcare related. Being honest about the limitations childcare can impose on your workload in these circumstances provides an opportunity for transparency and understanding for your manager and team. Success might look different for you during this time, and that is ok.
Lastly, and most importantly – give yourself GRACE. Our goal is not perfection.
We can’t care for others well if we are not taking care of ourselves – make caring for yourself a priority in both your personal and professional lives. At this point, we are in a marathon, not a sprint. If we don’t pace ourselves, we’ll burn out before we reach the finish line.
The reality is, women are facing disproportionate burdens in the realities of working from home and bearing the burden of childcare during COVID-19. However, that doesn’t mean that we have to run ourselves into the ground trying to achieve perfection. It also doesn’t mean we have to do this alone. I came away from the webinar panel with a strong sense of togetherness – knowing we aren’t alone in our feelings or our struggles – and that by supporting each other and encouraging one another, we can help each other make it through.