Work From Home Moms Don't Feel Supported, Here Is How We Can Fix That
Whether you are a working mother or a stay-at-home mom, each side has its challenges. Mothers who work outside the home must navigate a workforce that is designed for another era—one that frequently works against them and demands they choose between being a mom and being a professional. They carry the mental loads of their families and their employers, trading hats at a moment’s notice. They are frequently unfairly judged by society, colleagues, and employers who treat motherhood as an impairment and see their choice to remain in the workforce as cold or selfish.
On the other hand, stay-at-home moms navigate this same world from a different side—one in which they work daily to perform the unpaid work of motherhood. Their work is frequently taken for granted by a society that can’t see the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into around-the-clock care of home and children. They are frequently unfairly judged by society, peers, and future potential employers who treat motherhood as an impairment and see their choice to abstain from the workforce as weak or indulgent.
Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, we should be able to agree on this: all mothers work hard and need support—including work-from-home moms.
Work-From-Home Moms Walk the Line Between These Two Worlds.
Mothers who work from home live in the grey area between working outside the home and working from home. In fact, they experience the best—and worst—of both worlds.
They get to continue their careers—or launch new ones—and maintain a sense of professional identity and financial autonomy while still getting to go to mommy & me classes and spend afternoons in the park.
That said, they also understand the struggle of trying to bring value to a business, prove their worth as a worker, meet deadlines, and appear professional on conference calls and video chats while simultaneously navigating the needs of their children. They know the judgment that comes from opting for a less traditional work environment and the stigma that can attach to a woman who chooses to stay home. They share in the sense of isolation and the feeling that every day is Groundhog Day.
We Should Support Our Sisters No Matter What Their Labels Are.
We should support one another no matter what our titles are. However, if you have a work-from-home mama in your life and you’ve been wondering what her unique needs may be, here are some tips for how you can support her.
If you are an employer:
Let her know she’s an asset.If you employ a remote working mom, ensure you find ways to remind her she is still part of the team. If she’s doing an awesome job, tell her! Let her know what she is doing right because there’s a large chance she probably feels like she is lacking in some way—even if she’s a total standout.
Think of her for opportunities. Consider your work-from-home employees for all opportunities. Invest in their growth just as you would any team member. If there is a conference, project, or travel opportunity that could benefit your remote working mom, let her know! Don’t assume that because she’s not in the office everyday she’s not interested in career-building activities or taking on new projects. Keep her in the loop, offer experiences, and let her decide what opportunities she is ready to accept.
If you are a colleague:
Invite her to networking events. Think of your work-from-home colleague when you learn of new networking and social events and invite her along! There’s a chance she may feel slightly out of the loop while working from home. Even if she receives the same networking e-mails and updates you do, she might not have a moment to really digest and absorb them. She also might feel some fear or reluctance to attend on her own since she spends most days in a totally different environment. So, give her a buddy to go with!
Do lunch.Invite her to lunch! Give your work-from-home mom friend a reason to put on earrings and cute shoes. Even if she is doing the same work as you at home, it can be easy for her to feel like less of a professional when she’s also juggling diapers, nap times, and food spills all day long.
Keep her in the loop.Share what’s happening on the career front. Ask her advice on a particularly trying work issue. Show her that you value her creativity and professional opinion. Talk about the latest news and current events. Believe me—she’ll appreciate the opportunity to converse about something other than chore charts and school lunches.
If you are a stay-at-home mom:
Go to the park together.Or any weekday event. If your work-from-home friend has the scheduling flexibility, hit up story time together. Round up your kids and take them to the zoo, museum, or mall. Or even just crash each other’s living rooms for a few hours. Having the support and comradery of another person who knows what it’s like to be home full-time will mean everything to her—and probably to you, too.
Let her know she is valued.
No matter what role you play in a work-from-home mom’s life, show her she is valued. The least we can do as friends, colleagues, peers, employers, and partners is to show appreciation. After all, regardless of the type of work we do, we all want to know our work is valued.