Mums today are not only undervalued and misunderstood, they are totally overwhelmed. I have coached more than 50 mums in business over the past twelve months and I have repeatedly seen women arriving overworked, underpaid and exhausted as they juggle their business and family life.
Why is this?
Well here are my thoughts about why mums are stressed out and what you can do to avoid it.
1. Mums are working more
One of the most significant changes in society in recent decades is the growth in mums going back to work after the birth of their children. ABS data tells us this has grown from 55% in 1991 to 65% in 2011. We are also seeing that they are returning to work earlier than in previous generations. At the same time, we know that that women have been entering business at more than double the rate of men over the past decade. They are driven by the need to find more flexible work arrangements and are seeking more meaningful work. Essentially, mums work load is bigger than ever before.
2. Society expectations
Despite her increased employment rate and workload, societal views about a mother’s role hasn’t really caught up. In the majority of instances, we still see that mums are expected to drop everything to be present at assembly and sports day and, in many cases, they are also relied upon to care for sick children. Those working fulltime, spend their evenings after their kids have gone to bed organising the next day of carpooling and addressing school communications. Men are still seen as optional extras, rewarded for attending these events. They are rarely co-ordinating the family diary. Until society views and behaviours change, mums will continue to feel overwhelmed.
3. Greater concerns facing our kids
In the Marketing to Mums survey of more than 1800 Australian mums we found that the number one thing keeping mums awake at night is the health and safety of their children. Yet over the past decade or more the stresses of being parent have increased exponentially. I recently heard leading childhood psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, speak about the challenges of being a 21st Century parent. In his presentation, he spoke about the significant rise in depression amongst adolescents (particularly girls), Cyberbullying, alcohol and the prevalence of drug use amongst our youth. The pressures to stay on top of this for a parent are enormous. It is not surprising to hear that the majority of mums are averaging six hours or less hours sleep each night. Parenting in the 21st century is stressful and challenging.
As a mum and business owner what can you do to reduce overwhelm?
Self-care should be your number one priority. Drop the mummy guilt around doing something for yourself. If you are not feeling good the wheels of both family and business will come unstuck. Ask yourself what regular rituals of self-care do you do for yourself each day and week? I always take Thursday mornings to go digital free and take a walk-in nature with The Happiness Hunter. Once a month I have a massage and I am about to add a weekly guided meditation to my routine. Self-care is not something you do in response to overwhelm, it should be something you do all the time to prevent overwhelm. For those concerned about the time required to invest in self-care, my Thursday afternoons are my most productive of the week. The fresh air and exercise does amazing things in getting me focused.
Reducing overwhelm can often start with a review of your family arrangements with your partner. Are their additional family tasks they can pick up to reduce your load? Once these have been reviewed identify tasks both at home and at work which can be outsourced. Can you get a cleaner, housekeeper or someone to come in a cook a couple of meals each week? At work can you outsource administrative and social media duties? There are a huge number of mums looking for a few hours work each week who may be able to assist you. For those with limited resources look to outsource particular tasks with achieving a business goal or milestone. It can act as a great incentive. In my first business, I set 3-4 quarterly business goals and I linked my pay increases and a cleaner with achieving these goals.
- Get a coach
A business coach can be of great benefit in assisting you better manage your time and become more profitable. They can review your business model, marketing strategy, business planning methods and assist you identify systems to allow you do more with less time and money. A coach can also be a sounding board to workshop a business challenge or make you more accountable and find clarity.
If you need help with overwhelm or could benefit from becoming more focused and efficient in your business, I specialise in coaching mums. I dedicate two days each week to assisting mums become more profitable in their business. All AusMumpreneur community members are able to access a 90-minute Strategy Session either via Skype or in my office in Collingwood for $250 + GST (this is less than half the price of my corporate sessions). To find out more please go to: www.marketingtomums.com.au/strategy-session or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
About our Ausmumpreneur Expert :
Katrina McCarter is the Founder of Marketing to Mums. She specialises in helping businesses sell more to the world’s most powerful consumer, mums. Katrina is a mum of three and a best-selling author, international speaker, coach and consultant. She has won awards for Best Social Media, Best Customer Service and Best Boss and has featured on Today Tonight, Channel 7, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.