Working Moms: A Talentfoot Conversation

It’s no joke being a Working Mom. In fact, it’s a bit of a misnomer. We should be called Working Workers.

Before we even get to the office, we’ve had at least an hour to two of managing one child or more on the way to day care of school. By the time we get home, it’s a second shift of after school activities, playdates, homework, dinner, and bedtime routines.

Downtime? Rare. Time off? What’s that?

Changing demographics

Working mothers in the US still face immense struggles to find work-life balance in meaningful ways, even if they have a supportive partner and a good salary. That’s true even though more moms than ever are in the workforce. According to the Center for American Progress, women now make up half of all workers in the United States, with nearly 4 in 10 homes having a mom who is also working out of the house.

“While mothers of young children spend less time on paid work, they are significantly more likely to engage in household labor and chores on days when they also work for pay,” the report showed, adding that they “spend significantly more time on these activities compared with fathers.”

Being a full-time working mother can lead to feelings of guilt and stress because of divided attention between work and family. But it’s also a good thing for women seeking to capitalize on their education, find professional fulfillment and further their careers.

It turns out it also can be good for their children. A 2015 study from Harvard Business School found that daughters with working mothers grew up to “accomplish more at work, earn more money and climb higher on the corporate ladder than the daughters of stay-at-home moms.” The sons of working mothers pitch in more at home, too, the study showed.

Our experiences

Here at Talentfoot, we pride ourselves on finding creative ways to ease work/life challenges and provide a supportive environment for working mothers, though it’s not perfect. (If you’ve figured out perfect, let us know!) In a recent online chat, we asked several of our executives to discuss their dual roles.

For starters, what do they think of when they hear “working mother”? There were common themes: Busy. Empowering. Juggling. Exhausting. Time management came up, too, and that often means doing work stuff at home, and personal stuff at work.

“The biggest challenge is never having enough time to dedicate to either work or being a mom, always spread too thin,” said one of our executive senior partners. “I find myself telling my son a lot, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do that with you because I’m too busy,’ and it breaks my heart.”

Another woman agreed: “I feel I’m falling short on both ends.”

“Everything and everyone else comes first: kids, husband, house, job,” said one executive. “Then me, if there is time for me at the end of the day, and there usually isn’t.”

Everyone wishes for more hours in the day to devote to work, home—and themselves. One executive said she hasn’t worked out regularly in 8 years. Another said she would probably be in much better shape if she outsourced everything. But for most working mothers, that doesn’t make financial sense.

Housekeepers occasionally help, so do grocery delivery services. Asking friends to pitch in with child pick-ups and drop-offs also can be key for women willing to ask for help and lose that time with the kids. In general, work/life balance hacks are few and far between, while guilt is a constant, our team agreed.

The good news, though, is that everyone here understands that and Talentfoot works to accommodate constantly shifting needs.

Compassion in the workplace

One team member used to work in a start-up filled with 20-somethings complaining about how busy they are. Now, she says her colleagues make it their business to be more than just coworkers “in a good way.”

“I appreciate that everyone at Talentfoot just kind of GETS it. We’re all busy, “ she said. “And, in fact, many of us are busy with the same two jobs—being a parent and a recruiter.”

Small statements like, “I completely understand!” when a scheduling conflict arises go a long way, said another team member.

“I’ve found since joining Talentfoot (and this was a MAJOR attraction to this company and something I was specifically looking for) that I greatly enjoy knowing that lots of others on the team are also mothers and understand very personally things I might be experiencing,” she said.

A colleague agreed: “I get a lot of moral support from those around me.”

The rewards

A good day is when the house is clean, work went well, and the kids are happy and healthy, they said. A bad day is all about the opportunity cost, losing either earning potential or time with family due to responsibilities that spill over onto one side or the other.

Why do it? They love their kids—and their jobs. Asked if they would want to give up work, the overwhelming consensus was: No, thanks.

“The best part of being a working mom is being able to use a different part of my brain,” said a team member. “At work, I feel smarter, accomplished, creative, challenged. I like that it gives me some financial independence.”

Being a working mother also informs the way our team works, forcing them to work smarter and faster and also helping them to relate to clients who are working parents. It makes them more efficient and effective recruiters.

“It helps me better appreciate some of the career path challenges of our candidates since most of them have families,” one team member said. “I now understand what they mean by work/life balance and take that more into consideration when they tell me that is important to them.”

“Being a mom FORCES you to get your work done,” said another executive. “There is no staying late at work. There is just getting your work done on time. You quite literally cannot take time away from certain commitments with your children.”

Family comes first: we get that at Talentfoot. One of our associate partners is transitioning down to 10 hours per week while another is expecting first child in June. She hasn’t been able to sleep well for months and is temporarily disappointed in her work performance. (We disagree; she’s doing just fine.)

Still, she says, it all will be worth it.

“You get a lot of clients and recruiting opportunities in life,” she said, “but you only get one chance to be a mother.”

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