The Juggling Act: Balancing Wellness and Ambition for Working Moms

26 April 2024 YuLife

The demands on working mothers are immense — building a career while nurturing a family can feel like a never-ending juggling act.

This is especially true when you consider that only 40% of qualified women can find full-time employment after maternity leave. How can women who wear both the "mom" and "professional" hats find harmony between these competing priorities?

YuLife South Africa recently hosted an insightful webinar exploring this very topic. Host Pabi Moloi was joined by an expert panel including Navlika Ratangee (Managing Director of Lyra Wellbeing), Nande Sikampula (Head of HR at Rectron), and Bernise Games (YuLife SA's Head of Marketing).

The conversation shed light on some sobering realities. For those managing the work-mom balancing act, the landscape isn't always accommodating — with 38% of mothers who have young kids saying that without flexibility from their workplace, they'd have no choice but to leave their jobs or reduce hours.

Pabi Moloi opened the webinar by eloquently taking viewers through her own journey through motherhood. She said “While it is quite universal, the tightrope and endless balancing act called motherhood is something that needs to have more of a spotlight shone on it. This is especially true of being a working mom.”

62% of the webinar participants said that they are navigating their careers and parenting through flexible work hours and/or remote work offered by their employer. 44% said that they use a support system such as family and friends, and 25% of participants admitted that they are struggling to find the balance.

It's a delicate line to walk, made all the trickier by the mental load and potential impacts on wellbeing. As Navlika Ratangee pointed out, "Women are disproportionately affected by stress, anxiety, and burnout compared to men due to the second shift of household responsibilities."

But there is hope. The path forward, the panellists agreed, involves a blend of self-advocacy, setting boundaries, and utilising support structures — be they employee resource groups, counselling offerings, or wellness programmes that acknowledge the unique needs of working moms.

When asked what wellbeing tools are most effective in managing the career-parenthood balance, 58% of webinar participants said they prefer exercise and/or meditation and 47% said that they use mentorship and colleague support.

Nande Sikampula drove this point home: "We have to get better as employers about understanding the pressures on mothers and ensuring our policies, benefits, and corporate culture are geared towards true inclusivity."

Bernise Games expanded on this saying “As working moms, we also need to prioritise self-care. We have to realise that we cannot pour from an empty cup and encourage ourselves and employers to also see that taking time to look after ourselves has far more pros than cons.”

The webinar made clear that while the work-life teeter-totter may never achieve perfect balance, and that feeling professionally fulfilled, prioritising self-care and relying on a support structure aren't mutually exclusive for today's working moms. With open minds and open dialogue, positive strides can be made, and we can create working environments that allow moms to truly thrive.

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