Working-mums

How To Overcome The Superwoman Syndrome

Are you stressed out trying to be the perfect worker, wife, mother and housekeeper? These roles are at once conflicting and impossibly hard to juggle: welcome to the “superwoman syndrome.”

RELATED: Working Mum Survival Tips: Why Perfection Doesn’t Exist

The poor superwoman wannabe will think nothing of sacrificing her own self-care in a bid to perform all these tasks perfectly, completely stressing herself out in the process. Well, I say to hell with that ladies! It’s time to shake off the superwoman myth and outsource, where possible. Repeat after me: outsourcing is the answer!

If you’ve got street smarts and/or are a well-educated businesswoman, you will have most likely learnt to delegate in the corporate world; the same principle applies in your private life.

parenting, relationships, raising kids

My high-flying CEO best friend of 20 years recently hired a housekeeper out of sheer necessity; she’s often too busy wheeling and dealing to make a healthy family dinner/dust/clean toilets. And why should she feel guilty about this?

Another good friend hired a nanny when she had her second baby; she needs important back-up to care for her toddler while her fly-in-fly-out husband is away each month for three weeks at a time.

So, instead of rushing through life in a semi-depressed state due to your impossible burdens; hire help if and when you have the means. This might even just be something as simple as outsourcing the bathroom cleaning once a month, as I have done with great relish, to save you both the time and the energy you can otherwise devote to running your business and/or playing in the park with your children or – God forbid – a yoga class, or an hour or two to yourself.

Instead of this impossible, unwinnable “I need to do it all” superwoman syndrome, you’re effectively making an important choice about your top priorities.

superwoman syndrome, superwoman myth, self-care

And it’s often a hard lesson to learn: you can’t be the perfect wife/mother/worker and housekeeper all at once, nor should you even try to do so.

Learning to say no to tasks you hate, resent and just plain don’t have time for is a good life skill. So, ladies – take off the Superwoman costume and keep it simple: pay more attention to your own well-being and less time on trying to please everyone else.

What do you think… Have you ever sought hired help and/or fallen prey to the superwoman syndrome?

Images via girlsjustwannahavefunds.com, vaishalipatelpsychotherapy.com

Weekend Wit: The Work/Life Balance

The work/life balance. Is it only for people with a few bucks or does it actually exist for people on minimal wage? Perhaps it’s one of those 21st century myths created by the wealthy to inspire people who are struggling to work for peanuts, raise kids, look after elderly parents, have a social life, do things for others or the community and try to somehow sneak in valuable time out? Should they be so optimistic or is it a mythical ploy to make them work harder?

RELATED: Weekend Wit: The Modern Day Woman

Now, we’ve all been told that everything is achievable if we are prepared to put in the hard work. However, achieving the work/life balance when the chips are down and the funds are low is actually achieved by doing the opposite. Like to know what I’m on about?

From my experience, work/life achievers without money to fund the balance, usually don’t care for elderly parents needing constant attention, combined with kids who demand the latest iPhone. They might have one or the other, but probably not both. As far as community involvement, they might attend functions, events and social engagements in their spare time but you rarely see them in the trenches organising any of it.

What these work/life balancers know is how to effectively say no to passing responsibilities like taking on that extra shift, child minding, transporting a 90-year-old nan to the doctor or fundraising for the local community. Purely focused on the balance they so desperately require, they don’t feel a bit guilty about it either. They know that someone else will pick up the slack, so they can sit back and have it all.

That someone is usually their single sibling who works full-time, has four kids and rolls their sleeves up at the local school during functions. They will “choose” to take nan to the doctor, in lieu of time out. Unfortunately for them, they do have a conscience and rather than successfully achieving their work/life balance, they effectively work their way further from it. It doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?

In this case, achieving the work/life balance is actually based on not putting in the hard yards at all. If they can get others to do that on their behalf, then they’ll be able to get there. However if they do the hard work themselves, they are pretty much out of luck.

So, effectively it appears that achieving a work-life balance isn’t for everyone and for some it is a mythical 21st century ploy which makes them continue to work harder. Those with some money have a better chance because they can outsource some of their responsibilities. Those without it, combined with a conscience probably won’t get there. Plus, if they have a sibling who manages to acquire it, they’re pretty much screwed!

Image via media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

Pros And Cons Of Working From Home

Is working from home, as a recent study and various people have suggested, actually harder than working from within an office?

As in, when you work for yourself, you often have to have both a business and a creative brain – that’s no easy task! In addition, as some argue, it can be nigh impossible to separate your work life from your home life and achieve a balance when you’re plugging away in a home office.

RELATED: Working From Home: 5 Productivity Tips

Hmm, my jury is out. Certainly, there are many pros and cons with each option, as I’ve discovered since my recent, big career change when I left my full-time employer after a 10-year tenure, while on maternity leave, to become a full-time freelance journalist.

And yet, on the rare occasions when I do think escaping to a tiny, cluttered one-desk partition somewhere would be paradise, I remind myself of some of the tyrannical people and conditions under which I’ve worked, and give myself a little uppercut.

And while I was under no illusions freelancing would be a picnic, it’s certainly proven to be harder than I thought, at times – less Carrie from Sex and the City glamour and more what-the-hell-have-I-done tearing my hair out as I strive to bash out stories while my two toddlers under 3.5 zoom around the room.

Don’t get me wrong – there are many joys and rewards from working from home, but it’s important to understand when you go into business for yourself that you may have a steep learning curve along the way. Here are some “boss babe” business lessons I’ve learnt the hard way:

working from home, careers, time management

It’s business time

Pro: When you work from home, running your own business, you have enormous personal freedom and space in which to produce your best work. And while you still often have to report to a boss when telecommuting, there’s a lot of joy that comes from not having one up in your grill all the time because you work at home.
Con: You, yes you are responsible for everything from the admin and filing through to the invoicing, not to mention your output. There’s no one to delegate tedious tasks to and/or blame for poor workload or dodgy time management. The buck stops with you, baby.

Pants-off Friday

Pro: Working from home, you can go about your daily business however you please. You can even get your kit off if you want to – check out the crazy funsters behind the annual Work In The Nude Day!
Con: Slovenly habits can ensue if you’re not vigilant. I like to dress up a bit and will often do my hair and basic make-up for my work-from-home gig – mainly so as to activate my business brain and resist the temptation to work in my jarmies. I do not particularly enjoy working in the nude, but power to those who do!

working from home, working mums

Politics of fear

Pro: One of the most wondrous aspects of working from home is you don’t have to endure a viper’s nest: work politics will not worry you here – there’s no bully boss, and/or misogynist colleague, or malicious water cooler gossip to contend with.
Con: Working from home can be lonely if you’re not careful. Sometimes, I miss the social interaction and madness of a big newsroom. Happily, social media, not to mention your real friends, are only a mouse click away these days.

Know your enemy

Pro: Working from home means no pesky office co-workers with which to annoy you with their anti-social habits, such as shouting on the phone, stealing your stationery and/or your ideas and leaving half-eaten sandwiches in rotating desk drawers (yes, this actually happened to me).
Con: While you may have escaped dastardly co-workers, working from home may mean having to share your personal space with your husband (who also telecommutes), babies, cat and dog – all of whom will constantly clamour and fight for your attention, no matter how busy you are and how many deadlines you have to meet.

Housework hell

Pro: You often, out of sheer necessity when working for yourself, have to become adept at ignoring that pile of washing, for example, that needs doing if you have an important deadline.
Con: Slave/child labour was abolished and you gotta learn to get better at the work/home juggling act (besides, toddlers don’t make very obedient laundry helpers, either). So, in prioritising housework depending on deadlines, this may mean a slightly messier house for a day, and so be it. Sometimes, something has to give and that’s OK.

working from home, careers, time management

What important business lessons have you learnt working from home?

Main images via www.herworldplus.com; third image via www.news.com.au.

Why Working Mums Are More Productive

A funny thing often happens once you exit the corporate world to have kids – it’s like your currency, as a once-prized female worker, suddenly goes into rapid decline. Of course, well before that, you often become an awful inconvenience to your employer once you – gasp – have the selfishness and audacity to even fall pregnant to begin with. Sacre bleu!

RELATED: The Reality Of Further Education For Mums

For your extreme tiredness, morning sickness, aches and pains and sheer strain of growing a small human may prevent you from being the once unflappable and productive worker you once were, now no longer more an happy to stay back and work long hours of overtime for free.

And, once you then take time off for family obligations, including maternity leave, this often has long-term negative effects on a woman’s career – like lower pay or being passed over for promotions in the future.

However, employers should think long and hard about their often covert (and highly illegal) discrimination towards working mums, for a new study shows women with children are actually more productive than their childless peers.

A recent US study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis discovered that over the course of a 30-year career, mothers outperformed childless women at almost every stage of their careers. In fact, mothers with at least two kids were the most productive of all.

This news will come as no surprise to working women who often have to juggle demanding kids and a needy husband, work commitments, exercise, housework and friends and family’s needs and expectations – all at once.

It’s a tightrope – a constant juggling act – and, as any working mum brave and honest enough will tell you – it’s often impossibly hard and occasionally, at least one area of your life will be suffering.

careers, working mums, productivity

The researchers (all men) behind this particular study strived to understand the impact of having children on highly skilled women. Key findings include: within the first five or so years of their career, women who never have children substantially underperform those who do and women with at least two children performed the best.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses: wrangling small people can inevitably adversely affect your productivity.

Christian Zimmerman, one of the study’s authors said: “While you have small children, it has an impact on you. But after that, it seems that the impact is the other way.”

Working women must – as a matter of sheer survival – become super-organised, tenacious and tough. And while I abhor the supermum myth, I do think multiple kids makes you more competent at work.

Got a deadline, but need to be home and/or done in time for your toddler’s birthday party? Just watch that working mum go at it – faster than the speed of light.

careers, working mums, productivity

What do you think? Are working mothers more productive?

Main image via ofrizzthirty.com; cartoon via dexterousdiva.co.uk and final image via www.reveriecoaching.com

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