Stop Telling Moms What to Do During a Global Pandemic

Crystal Ohikhuare of @thecrystaloh with photo credit: Jessie Agastra Photography

Women – specifically moms – are leaving the workforce in record numbers as the Covid-19 global health pandemic rages on. It’s now been deemed a national crisis and framed by media as “shocking,” “devastating,” and “a trend that could set women back decades.” You know what else is setting moms back decades? People telling us what to do who are more concerned about how our actions impact them and not the women calling the shots. Have you stopped to think – when was the last time we told dads what to do? It’s astonishing! I can’t think of a time in our nation’s history when we told dads what would be best for them. This trend is rooted in our society’s ancient mindset that women need to be saved and coddled for their own good. Despite the numerous advances we’ve made as women to prove our equality, we still battle old school mindsets. However, if you’re struggling to balance career and home during these unprecedented times, here are some solutions you could consider before making a major life decision.

Crystal and her family. Phto credit: Jessie Agastra
  1. Ask for (specific) help.
    When I ask for help it’s often a general statement, “I need help!” Then my husband, mom, or fellow mom tribe members pitch in what they think I need. I’ve found that getting specific with the request truly does lighten the load. And don’t be ashamed by the ask – something as trivial as folding laundry can chip away an hour or two off a mother’s calendar. I’ve asked a friend to sweep my kitchen floor because it was on my to-do list for a week and I just didn’t have the time. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when she popped over, swept up and in 5 minutes the daunting task was scratched off my to-do list!
  2. Set boundaries at work.
    I’m a self-diagnosed workaholic – often I use my career as an escape from motherhood madness. In doing so, I found myself working longer and longer hours to push off the mounting mommy tasks awaiting me once I was “off the clock.” I told my accountability partner and she and I agreed I’d work Monday – Friday 9am to 6pm. Anything outside of those hours would need to be critical to business success otherwise it would have to wait. Have you tried protecting your waking hours this way?
  3. Drop your work hours.
    You read that right! As an HR professional, I can tell you that often you can go from being full time status to part time status without having to leave your job completely. Some income is better than none in most cases, so don’t be afraid to talk to your manager and HR department to see if this is an option for you.
  4. Take FMLA.
    If you’re trying to balance work and being the primary caretaker for a sick family member check out your FMLA benefits. FMLA stands for Family Medical Leave Act. It’s a federal law that allows you to take time away from work while your job remains protected for a significant amount of time. Even though the law doesn’t mandate pay during your time away, check your company’s employee handbook because your organization may just continue paying you – the more you know! Right?
  5. Take off!
Photography by: Jessie Agastra

If you make the decision to leave the workforce, make sure you use up all of your accrued time first. Some companies will pay out anytime that you don’t use, but this money is often taxed at a higher rate because it can be viewed as a bonus. I always recommend using the time before resigning unless you want the cash. Keep in mind, check the company’s employee handbook before putting in your notice because some organizations won’t allow you to use your time once you’ve quit. So, from one tired, pandemic fatigued, pregnant mama to everyone giving opinions about a situation
that doesn’t concern them: please stop telling us what to do! You’re not our mama! And to all my fellow working moms, remember you and your family should always come first. Your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health should never be compromised as you try to manage it all. Even superheroes need a change of pace every now and then. A global health pandemic might be just the thing you need
to bring yourself higher on your priority list.

Stay well, mamas!

Crystal Ohikhuare is an HR and Talent Acquisition professional living in the Dallas area with her husband Mike and young daughter.

Follow her working motherhood journey at thecrystaloh.co

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