Working moms are struggling. I know that’s not news to you as we land in the final month of this dumpster fire of a year. But it’s important that, as we soon slide into 2021, we don’t forget everything about 2020—especially the state of working moms. Among others, there are two distinct scenarios playing out right now in America—really, the world.

  1. Moms are attempting to quite literally juggle their job, child(ren), virtual or hybrid learning, the household, and their sanity.
  2. Moms have been forced to make the hard decision to leave their job and do everything else mentioned above, sacrificing their own income and desires along the way.

The burden society has placed on working moms is nothing new. It’s just that 2020 has finally shone a spotlight on the problem—which has now heightened to a dangerous level. As a business owner whose company exists to help working moms, I am at the forefront of trying to eradicate this problem.

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Watching women walk away from careers they have worked years to build is excruciating. You see, not all moms want to stay home. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a better working mom than stay-at-home-mom. And, while many others feel guilty saying the same thing, leaving their jobs this year has felt like more than a loss of income. These moms feel like they’ve lost a part of themselves.

So, as someone very close to the problem, it’s no surprise that I’ve spent some time reflecting on what this year has taught me as a working mom. The list is pages long, but here are three important lessons I will drag into 2021 with me.

Lean On Each Other

Admittedly, I used to wonder how it was possible to feel a sense of community online. I like to be in person when I hang out with my girlfriends. But since 2020 has ripped that from us as well, I decided to find alternative ways to stay in touch with them. And while I chat with them on the phone whenever I can find the time, I’ve also embraced finding friendships with women around the world. There are so many online communities that allow us to do this.

Leaning on other moms that are in a very similar situation has helped me feel less alone this year. HeyMama and Fairygodboss are two communities that I’ve found and clung onto, that celebrate working moms. Sittercity’s own Moms You Meet on the Playground podcast is another breath of fresh air. Listening to each episode makes me feel less alone as I realize I’m not the only one dealing with the messiness of parenting in 2020.

Take a Minute

There have been so many times when I just need to “take a minute” (as my husband and I joke). We all need time to ourselves and, quite frankly, should never feel guilty about that. After all, being a working mom doesn’t make you less of a human being.

Although, aren’t there days you feel like a robot moving from one responsibility to another while pushing any sort of feeling or emotion aside? Ah, the life of a mom.

All jokes aside, 2020 has taught me to take a minute to myself when I need it. Whether it’s hiding in my room for five minutes, taking a longer shower, or stepping outside for a few deep breaths and some fresh air, focusing on myself—even if just for a flash of time—is critical.

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Our Kids Are Watching

And that brings me to this hard lesson. I’ve realized taking that time for myself is so important because my kids are watching my every move. So much pressure, I know. But when my three-year-old asks me every day if I’m happy, it’s tough to ignore that he pays attention to how I feel. He cares about how I feel. In fact, how I feel affects how he feels. I’m not saying we need to pretend to be happy all the time. It’s not realistic and unhealthy to push negative feelings under the rug. But understanding that my happiness influences my kids has helped me find joy in some of the littlest things in life. It may sound cheesy, but stepping outside for some sunshine really does make me smile these days.

I wish I could say I believe we will all arrive in 2021 with a fresh perspective and an upbeat attitude. Unfortunately, flipping a calendar page won’t fix the serious issues we’re facing today. 2020 may have exposed decades of unrealistic expectations for working moms, but it will take just as long—if not longer— to help them feel afloat. As one of my clients—also a working mom—said to me the other day, “life just feels heavy.”

As we say so long to a year we will never forget, I plan to take the lessons I’ve learned to heart. I’ll continue speaking up about what it’s like to be a working mom these days while leaning on others in the same position. I’ll allow myself to take guilt-free breaks before grabbing my two boys and holding them tight. I’ll try my best to find happiness in the littlest of things, knowing my kids mimic how I feel. Cheers to more lessons, but less heaviness, in 2021!

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