Being able to work from home has been touted as a huge benefit for working mothers — but this isn’t always the case. A recent Bloomberg article called the “work-from-home revolution” a “trap for women,” noting that the partner who works from home is usually tasked with taking care of the household and children while also working full time. This is likely contributing to the increased stress working women are feeling. Deloitte’s 2022 Women at Work survey found that 53% of women say their stress levels are higher than they were a year ago and 46% feel burned out.
Being a full-time worker and full-time keeper of the household will inevitably lead to burnout, so it’s important to set healthy boundaries with yourself and others to stop this from happening. In this “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re chatting with experts about realistic ways you can avoid burnout as a mom who works from home.
Establish Set Hours for Work
It’s easy to get sucked into working more when your home is your office.
“Being home can make it easy to work until dinner time and then again after the kids go to bed,” said Deborah Porter, a life coach for moms and workplace parent consultant. “Close your computer and leave your ‘office’ just like you would if you were in a physical one.”
To realistically be able to do this, you may have to have a frank conversation with your boss about expectations.
“If there are projects that need attention after hours, agree on what that availability looks like and otherwise agree on what time the day ends,” said Rachel Kanarowski, mindfulness educator and founder of Year of Living Better, a consulting group focused on solving stress in the workplace. “If someone needs you after that time, it should be the exception.”
Take Breaks Throughout the Day
“Taking frequent breaks for exercise or meditation will help with stress management,” said Dr. Jacqueline Kerr, behavior scientist and host of the podcast “Overcoming Working Mom Burnout.” “Using focused work methods, such as the Pomodoro 25-minute chunks, can help.”
Divide Household Tasks With Your Partner
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you should take on all of the household responsibilities.
“Have a real conversation with your partner about how WE want to get things done and not how you can do it all — because you cannot,” Porter said.
Kerr recommends Eve Rodsky’s book “Fair Play” as a guide to dividing household tasks fairly.
Schedule ‘Me Time’
Just as you schedule work meetings and family obligations, you should also schedule time every week for you to do something alone that will allow you to rest and recharge.
“It simply will not happen any other way,” Porter said. “You must block it off so that nothing will be planned on top of it.”
If you feel like you really don’t have much time for you, start with just 30 minutes a week and aim to increase it.
It’s also important to take extended breaks from family obligations every so often.
“Moms need to take a weekend or whole week away from parenting and household tasks to focus on their needs or their work,” Kerr said. “Without these distractions, moms’ brains start to work again and they can regain confidence in their abilities.”
Tap Into or Create a Support System
Every woman should have a “village,” Porter said. “This should include family, friends, other moms, school personnel, co-workers and more. Each fills a different role, but together, they support you.”
Daniela Wolfe, licensed master social worker, work-life balance expert and founder of Best D Life, said it’s especially important to stay connected to your co-workers when you work remotely.
“Make time for fun with your co-workers and stay connected to them and what is happening in their lives,” she said. “Those relationships are part of the fabric of your day-to-day life. They contribute to your feelings of connection to the work environment, and a good laugh with our colleagues can provide instant stress and tension release as well.”
You might feel like the only way to get everything on your to-do list done is to do multiple things at once, but this is often counterproductive.
“Studies show that multitasking hinders your performance and impacts brain health,” Porter said. “Some things will just have to wait their turn.”
GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women, to take control of their money and help them live richer lives.
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