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Work-Life Integration

5 Ways Working Moms Can Practice Self-Care

Mom, your day-to-day life can be a little, let's say, "demanding." This is particularly true if you're one of the growing numbers of moms who also work outside the home.


Taking care of the kids. Completing housework. Completing "work work." Until some genius invents a way to add a couple dozen more hours to the day, it makes sense that your responsibilities might stress you out a bit.

That's less likely to happen if you know how to take care of yourself. Sure, moms sometimes feel guilty when they stop to address their own needs, but you definitely shouldn't. How can you be Supermom if you're too burnt out to stay sane?

Finding time for self-care can seem like a challenge, but it's much simpler when you keep these tips in mind.

Know You're Setting a Good Example

Here's a simple way to stop feeling guilty about self-care: remind yourself you want to be a good role model for your kids. Taking care of yourself is key to your wellbeing. It's key to EVERYONE'S wellbeing. If you feel like you're neglecting your mom duties by giving yourself permission to actually relax from time to time, just remember you're not the only one who benefits. Again, you can't balance all of your responsibilities if you're feeling stressed, exhausted, or burnt out.

Use Time Wisely, Even While at Work

Finding time to practice self-care seems challenging because time isn't exactly something that busy working moms have in abundance. But if you get creative, it's still possible to create time for self-care activities.

If you work during the day, consider using part of your lunch break to meditate, go for a walk, or call a friend who re-energizes you, rather than just eating at your desk..

While you might not be able to dedicate an entire day to yourself, you can combine multiple self-care activities to get the most out of them in the least amount of time.

For example, consider working out in a group in order to get the stress reduction benefits of exercise and socializing at the same time.

Sneaking in an early solo run or a workout in your home gym is great (and convenient), but getting in some adult-socialization time at the gym can be a game-changer - especially if you work alone or spend all day with your kids. Treat yourself to a fitness center membership or find a nearby yoga studio and try a few classes until you find one you love. Finding a group you like to workout with can help you expand your social circle - peer pressure is also a great form of accountability that will help ensure you don't skip workouts!

Don't Overlook the Benefits of Working with Other People

Whether you work from home or the office, don't underestimate the power of a little people time.

It's easy to get stuck behind your screen and find that you've spent the whole day by yourself, especially if you work from home.

If you work from an office, make sure you give yourself designated to get up and connect with coworkers outside of meetings - ask them to grab a coffee or go for a walk.

If you work from home, consider joining a coworking space that has community activities, or at least work from a cafe from time to time to get out of the house and give yourself a change of scenery and some much needed human interaction!

Ask for Flexibility

Don't assume your boss knows what your needs are. The fact that they don't provide you with the flexibility you want doesn't always mean they never will. It simply means they might not be aware of your needs.

It's worth asking if you could spend one day a week working flexibly. That might mean working from home, taking half the day off, or adjusting your hours so you can spend more time with your family.

Need help persuading your boss? Show them this Deloitte study.

Get the Kids Involved

On those days when you can't get away from your responsibilities as a mom (a.k.a, every single day"), you can still practice self-care. You just need to involve the kids as well. Get them to help you prep your favorite healthy and simple vegetarian meal, or find a quick workout routine both you and your kids can participate in.

Get Enough Sleep

This is key. Sacrificing sleep in order to take on more responsibilities will actually make you less productive at work, at home, and in general. When you get enough sleep, you'll be so efficient and productive that finding time for everything (including self-care) will be much easier.

Don't forget how important this is! As Mom, you want the best for just about everyone in your life. That should include wanting the best for yourself. The happier you are, the happier you can make your family and boss.

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Why Female Presidential Candidates Are Still Told to Be Chill, Not Shrill

The Dated, Everyday Tech Stifling Women's Voices Shows the Importance of Diversity in Tech

"You're not like other girls. You're so...chill."

I've gotten that "compliment" from multiple guys in multiple contexts — and I'm ashamed to admit that until a few years ago, I took it as one.

Occasionally I'd wonder why. After all, anyone who knows me well knows I am the Anti-Chill: a tightly wound stress ball, ready to explode into tears at any given moment.

So what was giving these guys the wrong impression? As it turns out, it was my voice. My cool, unnaturally-deep-for-a-woman, never-shrill voice.

And if I'm honest, I always prided myself on not sounding 'like other girls.' No uptalk or high-pitched squeals of glee from me. I thought I sounded smarter and more serious. Talk about internalized misogyny.

This isn't just me though. There is a societal double bind that forces women to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the right pitch and tone for each situation.

Just consider the advice that Democratic-debate coach Christine Jahnke gave female candidates to avoid being labeled as shrill: "… go slow and low. Very purposefully slow your pace and lower the tone a bit, because that will add meaning or gravitas to whatever it is you're talking about."

In a nutshell: try and sound chill, not shrill.

What I didn't know, until recently, is how this bias against women's natural voices is being reinforced and amplified by century-old technology. (Just one of many examples of how technology designed by and for men ends up hurting women in the long-run.)

Author Tina Tallon explains this little-known fact in her recent New Yorker article, summarized below:

How 20th Century Tech Is Holding 21st Century Women Back

With the rise of commercial broadcast radio in the 1920s, women's voices began getting critiqued. As Tallon explains, station directors asserted that "women sounded 'shrill,' 'nasal,' and 'distorted.'" So when industry standards were set, directors didn't take women's voices into account.

When Congress limited the bandwidth available to each radio station in 1927, station directors set a bandwidth that would provide the minimum amount of information necessary to understand "human" speech.

They used lower voices as their benchmark, so the higher frequency components of women's speech necessary to understand certain consonants were cut, making women's voices less intelligible.

  • Researcher J.C. Steinberg asserted that, "nature has so designed woman's speech that it is always most effective when it is of soft and well-modulated tone." He explained that if a woman raised her voice on air, it would exceed the limitations of the equipment. As Tallon says, "He viewed this as a personal and biological failing on women's part, not a technical one on his."

Why You Should Care

Women have always been told to lower their voices, but this 20th century approach to sound frequencies is still accepted as the standard, literally forcing women to lower their voices if they want to be heard.

  • To this day, many algorithms and speakers distort women's speech by limiting higher frequencies, causing women's voices to lose definition and clarity.

Tallon sums it up well:

"Consequently, women are still receiving the same advice that they were given in the nineteen-twenties: lower the pitch of your voice, and don't show too much emotion. By following that advice, women expose themselves to another set of criticisms, which also have a long history: they lack personality, or they sound 'forced' and 'unnatural.'"


----

So as we continue to grapple with implicit biases against women, from what it means to be "presidential" to who's considered an "innovative leader," let's remember the importance of diversity in tech.

Had a woman been involved in researching/setting the standards for radio frequencies, she might've been able to steer the industry towards a voiceband that would allow men and women to be heard equally well. And perhaps had a more impartial voiceband been established, I'd have heard a more diverse range of female speakers growing up, and internalized fewer biases myself.

That's why we care so much at PowerToFly about making sure cutting-edge companies have diverse teams.

Times were different then, sure, but the fact that Depression Era standards are still impacting how we hear (or don't hear) women's voices is a vital reminder that what we do today impacts our world for centuries to come.

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