May 8, 2020
Dear Working Moms and Women Leaders: Embrace Imperfection During This Time
Almost half of employed women in the United States, including more than 40% of working mothers, say they are the main breadwinner for their family. Research shows that we also do more childcare and domestic work, as well as adjust our careers more for family life.
Women take on a lot. And during difficult times, it’s multiplied.
I—and I’m sure many other women—consider myself blessed to have a partner who is truly a partner (and an incredible cook) during this time. But without the typical support systems like schools and nannies, I’m still juggling a multitude of rules all at the same time, 24 hours a day.
I had a boss once who didn’t believe in work/life integration. She preferred the term work/life “mashup.” That is the reality we are living right now.
And as women, and especially as women leaders, we tend to live with this never-ending struggle to be even better or even more perfect. So what I want to tell my fellow working mothers and women of the world this Mother’s Day is that it’s ok to let go of the idea of “perfect,” especially right now.
More Authentic Connections
There have been so many meetings lately where someone’s son came up to him on camera and then showed us a bear, or where someone’s daughter popped in to just say “I love you mom,” or our someone’s kids came in an early morning meeting to say they ate hashbrowns.
And I think that’s wonderful. We should encourage that because we need to be human right now more than ever. We need to embrace things like that, not be concerned about them.
Structure and Freedom
In our home, we have a schedule for the kids but give them the freedom to choose the activities they work on. So from eight to nine, they can watch cartoons, and then from nine to eleven they work on geography—but they get to choose which countries they want to a research report about. Recess is playing outside with the dog, so everyone gets to have a little fun. Then they’ll do things like collages for art in the afternoon and a little bit of coding at the end of the day. We still maintain the required school work but I have tried to incorporate ways to let them have some control over their learning.
A Perfectly Imperfect Balance
I encourage us to continue to embrace a little bit of imperfection even then. That gives us the power to say, “I have to take care of my family, my company, and my customers right now. There’s going to be some give in all that.”
To all my fellow women in business and motherhood, I am with you during this time. Hopefully, we can use this challenging experience to create positive changes in how we care for our businesses, our families, and ourselves.