When you become a working mom, you’ve got less time, far less sleep and more work tasks to do, even before you get to work in the morning. In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen explores the qualities that lead to career dissatisfaction — and how to prevent burning out from a job you love.
Stop burning the candle at both ends
In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen explores the qualities that lead to career dissatisfaction — and how to prevent burning out from a job you love.
Would you describe yourself as ambitious? An expert multi-tasker? Maybe even a control freak? While the degrees to which we possess these qualities vary by the nature of our roles, we working moms tend to take on these traits when we strive to have it all. Before I had kids, I always had an inner fire to succeed, but had a “work hard, play hard” mentality. Nowadays, my day starts long before the roosters crow and carries well past prime-time. When I’m running on four hours of sleep with a list of to-dos for the day, my ambition fuels me. But I’ll admit — sometimes, I’m just plain tired.
Dr. Danit Ein-Gar of Tel Aviv University thinks this working-mom drive to “go for the gold” may ultimately lead to our demise if left unmanaged. She conducted a study of those who consider themselves “high self-control multitaskers.” Who are these people? They’re the ones that take on every project with resolve, and always try to squeeze in just one more errand. (Sound familiar?) Their motivation can be highly effective in getting the job done — but they also face a high risk of burning out.
Here are three ways to avoid burning your working mom candle at both ends.
Maintain a steady — not sprint — pace
In her study, Dr. Ein-Gar found that in order to avoid the looming burnout, it’s critical to switch gears from the mindset of sprinter to a marathon runner. A marathoner focuses on the end goal, but regulates the energy that is required in order to get there. “The winner is the one who can finish the race at the end with power left over to keep running,” she says.
Plan for disruption
When “expert multitaskers” hit roadblocks that derail plans, our energy erodes. Dr. Ein-Gar’s study found that high self-control individuals “burn out quickly when flooded with unexpected challenges,” like a last-minute work assignment, or a line at the bank or grocery. Remember that when you’re a working mom you can schedule the day to your heart’s content — but to keep from getting buried in the stress, it’s more important that you plan to get knocked off-course sometimes.
Schedule your personal well-being
You likely have a long list of things to take care of in a day, but are you anywhere on that list? According to the Captivate Network, men are 25 percent more likely to take breaks throughout the day for personal activities, 7 percent more likely to take a walk, and 5 percent more likely to go out to lunch. As a result, they also report being happier at work than women.
Working Mom 3.0
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of “working mom,” as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine “having it all” on her own time and terms.