Fb VP Mother on Assist: ‘There Is No Unsuitable Strategy to Give and Settle for Assist’
Nobody ever said parenting is easy. And keep up with paid work and start a family at the same time? It’s a completely different challenge – especially in such unprecedented times. While the pandemic has been difficult for everyone, it’s no surprise that it was especially difficult for working mothers.
It is true that working mothers everywhere hit the max and burn out as they take on more responsibilities at home, including caring. According to a Gusto NAWBO report, 61 percent of female business owners with children at home report school closings have adversely affected their business, and 30 percent of those business owners said they were scaled back due to childcare needs.
Research by LeanIn.Org and Facebook’s US State of Small Business Report shows that companies owned by women have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 compared to their male counterparts. While all of the companies surveyed reported that their sales fell, a larger proportion of women-run companies (47 percent) said sales fell by more than half, compared with 41 percent of men-run companies.
The truth is, no one can do it all on their own – especially non-working mothers. And while each individual’s family, business, and job are unique, what we all have in common is that we need support.
My message to working mothers everywhere is that there is no wrong way to receive and give help. Here are just four of the most common types of support and insight that real mompreneurs Monique Wilsondebriano, Tonya Rapley and Lizzy Mathis shared recently on a panel hosted by Facebook and Create & Cultivate called Run by Moms: The Balance Myth.
Many mothers are supported by very special mothers – their own. Others are supported by other family members such as in-laws, cousins, or siblings. For example, Monique Wilsondebriano, co-founder of the Charleston Gourmet Burger Company, spoke about her experiences with multigenerational food. She explained that her mother moved to South Carolina from Kentucky to help her children while she got her business going. Pointing out the importance of her sister’s continued help, she said that without the support of these two women, she doesn’t know how she would have done it.
For me, since my parents are in Australia, I have relied on the Facebook portal to provide both virtual and international childcare, especially when I have important evening appointments. This allows for two things: first, my child can get in touch with their grandparents at a time that works well for both (an 18 hour time difference can make that difficult), and second, the portal has a ton of fun, educational activities to offer that create a deeper family bond.
Of course, this is not practical for every family. Tonya Rapley, founder of My Fab Finance, shared on the panel that she and her husband were living on relatives across the country when they had their son.
“I have grieved the freedoms of my previous life,” Tonya said, explaining how even small things – like the fact that she couldn’t wear a particular shirt while breastfeeding, or time to have lunch with a friend – quickly It became clear that she would need more support to raise her son, which eventually leads her to hire a nanny. Tonya credits this decision for helping her find freedom in motherhood and what the journey would be like for her.
Personally, I think outsourcing is about taking things off your plate to improve the way you manage your work and personal life. For example, ordering meal delivery sets for the week to reduce the number of last minute dinner disasters has been a boon to our home. For another family, it could mean using a service like Instacart to do their grocery shopping. There are many new, innovative services created during the pandemic and the most important thing is to use them to get wider support so that you can prioritize what is most important to you.
In addition to outside help and an extended family, another important form of support can and should come from a spouse or partner. Lizzy Mathis, founder of The Cool Mom Co., shared how grateful she is to have a practical husband, especially since she grew up in a single-parent home.
Monique also recognized her husband’s support in terms of accountability. A passionate entrepreneur who loves what she does, she found that she sometimes struggles to shut down her brain, but her husband helps by being careful and checking her out when looking at her phone during family time, for example. Tonya agreed, noting the importance of trusting and letting her husband support rather than micromanaging his upbringing.
Carefully planning the upcoming week has helped to create a manageable rhythm between my husband and me in our house. Just as we plan with meal packages, for example, we are well informed about important appointments or appointments of the other in order to create space (or silence in the house!). We have a shared family calendar that marks all important dates and makes the whole family aware of the milestones in work and life for better integration.
Support from a broader community is another channel that the panel’s entrepreneurs enthusiastically recommended. Lizzy actually built her company The Cool Mom Co. when she was first pregnant as she felt she lacked community and resources, especially for women of color. When one of the first of her friends to become a mother, she was hungry for an inclusive place to tap into motherhood.
“I haven’t really seen a lot of people who look like me or my friends or family [mom] Websites, ”she explained. “That is why it was very important for me to create a space that is diverse and includes mothers from all walks of life. Really, we are all united because we are women and mothers. “
Community support has been by far the most impactful area for my family over the past year. During the toughest times of quarantine, we relied on our group of three local families for everything. From the creation of makeshift educational opportunities during school closings, to socially distant family walks in the neighborhood, to mutual errands, the community was the only stabilizing factor in all the insecurity.
If you haven’t already joined a local “mothers group” on Facebook, I strongly recommend you do so. Our neighborhood group is a lifeline with mothers and offers advice and support on all topics (e.g. activities for children in wet weather, the best hikes in the area and food deliveries and much more).
Ultimately, no two companies or families are exactly alike. I urge you to consider the various types of support that are available to you, and to embrace and lean on them in all their forms. Your family and business will be better for it – because it really takes a village for that.
Michelle Klein is Vice President, Global Customer and Business Marketing at Facebook.