Power Up: Pandemic Tips for Working Parents
© Reuters. Author Lublin poses in the undated photo
By Chris Taylor
NEW YORK (Reuters) – As any working parent will tell you, life is an act of juggling. It’s about balancing the competing responsibilities of work, home and family without everything collapsing.
Now the pandemic has made this juggling act much more difficult.
But that’s not impossible, says Joann Lublin. The longtime career columnist for the Wall Street Journal has just published a book entitled “Power Moms: How Senior Mothers Manage Work and Life.”
Reuters sat down with Lublin to discuss how working mothers (and fathers) can get through this challenging moment in history in one piece.
Q: We need to talk about what’s happening with women’s employment right now. What are you taking
A: The pandemic has had a very hard impact on working women. Some people call it a “you assignment” but I consider it more of a “mother assignment”. The brunt of job loss has fallen on the shoulders of working mothers.
Women weigh heavily on themselves and the money stays with them when it comes to looking after children and households.
Q: How will these employment trends develop?
A: If there is any good news that comes out of this horrific experience, this is a great home work experiment.
Before, a lot of people thought it was unknown or impossible. But there is a lot of data to suggest that this really works. We must continue this experiment even after the offices reopen and parents who work from home must not be punished.
Q: How did you come up with this idea of looking at “Power Moms”?
A: The inspiration came from my first book on women business people, called Earning It. I discovered that many of these senior CEOs had children.
I was wondering what has changed over the years, what is better and what has stayed the same compared to the current wave of younger women in leadership positions. So I interviewed 86 executive mothers who are evenly divided between boomers and younger generations like Gen X and Millennials.
I even interviewed Boomers’ daughters to find out what it’s like to grow up with a power mom.
Q: what has changed?
A: Employers now understand that they must have family-friendly practices in order to attract the best and brightest. That just wasn’t the case with the boomer generation because working mothers weren’t seen as committed to their careers.
Another change is that Generation X mothers tend to have very dedicated spouses – men who “get it” and are committed to their wives’ careers and willing to be parents together.
A third change is technological improvements that have now made it possible to work from home.
Q: How can employers help working parents?
A: The job must be welcome for working mothers and fathers. Engagement from above is critical to recognizing parenting as an important part of the lives of your employees.
They must offer maximum flexibility, paid family leave and other benefits such as childcare reimbursement. But there has to be a role model at the top, otherwise parents won’t use these guidelines.
Q: Parents are so burned out with competing responsibilities right now. What do you say to them to get through this time?
A: Cut yourself a little loose. Forgive yourself. Accept the fact that things will not always go right. It’s okay to be imperfect.
And make sure to keep in touch with people who are in a similar boat: there used to be no social networking, but now you can find lots of like-minded people who go through the same thing and can help you get through the day.
Q: What would you like to take out of Power Moms in this book?
A: Three important lessons: choose your life partner wisely, especially if you plan to have children.
Second, choose your employer wisely – if it’s not a family-friendly place to work, vote with your feet.
Third, choose your mentors wisely, people who will advise and guide you at key moments in your career.
Power moms need sponsors too: someone willing to bring their own political capital to the line and risk their reputation by vouching for you and standing up for you. You need these lawyers in your corner.