The role women play in society and within their own households has changed dramatically through the last half-century.
According to Pew Research Center analysis of the Decennial Census and American Community Surveys Integrated Public Use Microdata Sample files, in 1960 just 10.8 percent of married mothers were the primary earners in households that included children under the age of 18. That figure rose steadily over the next 50 years, reaching 40.4 percent by 2011. Though the steady rise in those percentages makes the 2011 figure less than surprising, the fact remains that today’s working mothers have more on their plate than ever before and are under more pressure to juggle those responsibilities than their predecessors.
Juggling a career and motherhood is difficult for any woman, but the transition to wearing two hats can prove an especially difficult adjustment for new mothers. The following is a handful of tips for new mothers about to embark on the challenging task of juggling a career and a growing family.
Carefully consider career decisions
Some new mothers respond to motherhood by making changes with regard to their careers. While adjustments will almost certainly need to be made, it’s important that women avoid knee-jerk reactions. Some women feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children and ultimately allow that guilt to govern their decisions about their careers. But women who don’t give ample consideration to such decisions may grow to regret them when they find they miss their old jobs and the responsibilities and sense of purpose that comes with those jobs. When making career decisions as new motherhood is approaching or after it arrives, make a list of the pros and cons to each decision and the motives behind each decision you might make. The more thoughtfully you approach each decision, the happier you’re likely to be with that decision once it’s been made.
Avoid going overboard at the office
Working mothers are often driven to show their employers that new motherhood will not affect their on-the-job performance. In their haste to prove motherhood won’t prove a distraction, new mothers may take on more they can chew. Recognize that being a working mother does require an adjustment period, especially in the immediate weeks and months after maternity leave has ended and your body has yet to adjust to its new schedule. Accept help when it’s offered and recognize that good employers understand the adjustments you will need to make in the immediate aftermath of a pregnancy.
Look for ways to reduce workload
Juggling a career and new motherhood won’t just have an impact at the office. Part of making a successful transition from working professional to working mother is recognizing that adjustments need to be made at home as well. Both new parents are in the same boat, but mothers are the ones who spend the first three months at home with their new child, and during those three months new mothers typically develop a certain rapport with their new babies that new fathers do not. Babies may prove more comfortable being fed or rocked to sleep by mom instead of dad. In such instances, look for ways to reduce your workload at home, whether that’s sharing cooking duties or other chores around the house that were once your responsibility alone.