Calibrating Motherhood and Work  

Why work-life balance is a myth 

The concept of work-life balance sounds great in theory, but it’s incredibly hard to pull off. We try to divide our time evenly between work, family, friends, and community, but by the end of the week, we’re exhausted and drained. 

Think about it: If you’re working 40 to 60 hours a week and spending another 40 to 60 hours on family, community, your partner, and so on, you’ll soon realize there just aren’t enough hours in the week to do everything and still have time for yourself. The math doesn’t add up.

It’s clear that the idea of work-life balance, suggesting that everything is equally important, doesn’t really match the reality of working parents. And if you’re the default parent, chances are you’re also experiencing parental bias.

Which means, it’s up to you to define your own strategy to avoid overwhelm. So, what’s the alternative? Consider work-life calibration instead. 

Calibration over equilibrium 

Calibration involves adapting to life’s changes by staying true to what matters most to you. Each day, you adjust your decisions to fit the shifting demands and limitations of your situation. Essentially, it’s about making your schedule and goals work for you, not the other way around. 

How can you calibrate effectively? It all starts with your self-identity – a complex blend of beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and past experiences that influence your perception of yourself and the world around you. 

Calibration: Follow your North Star 

Your self-perception is your North Star for calibrating effectively. If it doesn’t align with your idea of success, calibration can be difficult. To realign, identify and challenge limiting beliefs. Your thoughts influence your feelings which drive your behaviours and shape outcomes.  

Calibration involves consistently reaffirming and aligning with your goals and values, making it easier to navigate all your competing priorities. You can’t do it all, but you can do what matters most to you – which is everything!

This International Women’s Day, let’s focus on fathers.

(yep, you read that right)

Don’t get us wrong, we love conversations about how we can support women in the workplace and shake up the old systems that hold them back. But sometimes it can feel like we’re talking in circles. This International Women’s Day, we want to highlight another piece of the puzzle: for mothers to be able to lead at work, fathers need to feel like they can step up and take on more responsibilities at home.

Phrases like the “motherhood penalty” can make women feel like they’re somehow to blame for societal inequalities and that it’s incumbent on us to fix it. But real change requires a shift in how we think and action from all genders. It’s about dismantling harmful stereotypes and creating environments where both men, women and non-binary parents are empowered to thrive, both at work and at home. It’s a no-brainer. To create the equality we want to see, we’ve got to challenge traditional gender roles that have been holding us all back for way too long. We recognize that there are positive shifts in the workplace that are paving the way for a more equitable future. Paternity leave, top-ups, and flexible work options are instrumental to supporting both men and women.

Despite the good intentions behind workplace policies that promote gender equity, the data still shows a massive gap. It will still take 100 years to achieve equity in the workplace (World Economic Forum). A big part of the problem is that people aren’t taking full advantage of these policies particularly paternity leave, like they should.

Why? It comes down to gender norms from decades gone by that are still hanging around. Paternity leave and flexible work options are there for the taking, but many men still feel pressure to keep their noses to the grindstone instead of taking time for family. Only 24% of men in Canada believe it’s their job to take paternity leave (IPSOS 2019). For women, they might hold back from using support systems because they’re worried about being judged for not fitting into traditional roles.

The policies are there, but people just don’t feel like they can or should make use of them. This disconnect shows us that equity in the workplace is not just about having the right policies in place: we’ve also got to shake things up, challenge stereotypical gender norms and redefine the roles that men and women play both at home and at work.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s keep pushing for progress together. Let’s invite fathers into the conversation and keep chipping away at those old stereotypes and creating a world where everyone, regardless of gender, has the chance to thrive, now and in the future.

Curious about how to better support working parents? Check out our workshop and leadership programs and book a call to learn more.

No One is Talking About The Motherhood Identity Shift™

When it comes to having a baby, we’re typically in one-sided conversations.

We talk about what size fruit the baby is in the womb and the brackets of age they’ll be in for clothes as they grow. We celebrate their arrival with baby shower cupcakes and rituals and take pictures as they develop teeth, dimples and rolls. We watch their neonatal acne come and go, their hair poke through in patches and light up when smiles consciously appear in reaction to our cooing voice. We notice their every change and the world comments on their evolution right alongside us.

But we miss something major, something essential and something right in front of us.

Ourselves.

When a child is born, so are we!

We are now mothers.

Two births have happened, yet our culture’s eye is trained to only acknowledge and see one as the big event.

We’re the vehicle that simply “bounces back” to its previous iteration and goes on ticking, as if creating a child was a physical act that didn’t travel to the mind, the heart or the soul of ourselves. It leaves us to navigate our way through an unspoken falsehood that we as individuals are unaffected, only added onto.

Yet, while we wrestle with a rapidly shifting physical self, we’re also sifting through an entirely new psychological, mental, emotional and spiritual state nobody talks about. We’re led to believe we can just pick up where we left off as who we were before – go back to ‘normal’, when in fact, we have been reborn ourselves.

We call it The Motherhood Identity Shift™

Becoming a mother is one of the biggest internal transitions you can go through, and it requires graciously letting go of your past identity to step into your new one. It takes the understanding that when one version of you ends, you might be in the neutral zone, on the bridge between, before you feel fully like the new you.

So, take some time to acknowledge and grieve who you were before, to embody this transition at the pace and style that feels truest to you, and when you feel ready, to step forward.

Breathe easy knowing you’re meant to change, but it can feel so much easier when there’s a name for it.

You can learn more about this shift on here, but we want to take it one step further.

BOOK A FREE 30-MINUTE CALL WITH US

Why More Time Off Isn’t the Answer

Mothers have always needed more than paid time off, but never have the numbers made it so glaringly obvious.

28%

Greater chance that working mothers will experience burnout than working fathers.


Maven, Parents at the Best Workplaces

43%

Moms dropping out of the workforce within one year of having a baby.


Maven, Parents at the Best Workplaces

Our workplaces have evolved from where they’ve been in the past, but the present model is still lacking.

We’re still beating the benefits drum of more paid time off as though it’s the singular solution – and, yes, it helps – but it can also exacerbate the problem of feeling removed and isolated from the culture and community inherent in our professional lives.

Taking mothers out of the picture for longer doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.

Ultimately, it asks what’s outside to solve what’s inside as if we’re saying,

“With more time off, they’ll come back rested and ready.”

“With more time off, they’ll be able to get a handle on things at home.”

“With more time off, they’ll heal and deal and come back prepared.”

But that’s not how it works.

Benefits need to be holistic, not just reflective of the physical support for birth and childcare.

They need to take in every dimension of the whole human being, including their mental, social, intellectual and environmental health.

We do this by supporting you through The Motherhood Identity ShiftTM, an under-researched and unspoken transition every person goes through when they become a mother. And since 86% of women in the workplace become mothers at some point in their careers*, this can’t be ignored.

You can learn more about this shift on here, but we want to take it one step further.

BOOK A FREE 30-MINUTE CALL WITH US

The Debut Co. was created to take whole-person care out of simple theory and into deep practice, so all mothers are completely supported in their jobs, within their teams and by leadership. This starts with the tools and training to evolve past paid leave as the only solution to a problem that needs much broader consideration.

We can all do better and we’re here to help you get there.

*Reshma Saujani, author of Pay Up, 2022

The Invisible Power of Parental Bias

There isn’t a workplace out there that doesn’t have parental bias, yet no one talks about it.

It’s so baked in by the time we get to working age that we don’t realize how much we’ve assigned certain roles to gender and unwittingly play a role in our careers, companies and their cultures.

If you haven’t really thought about it, consider who did what when you were growing up:

  • Who changed the oil in the car and who changed the diapers?
  • Who dropped you off at school and who dropped the credit card on the restaurant check?
  • Who made the meals and who made the money?
  • Who taught you how to get a stain out of clothes and who taught you how to get them dirty?
  • Who gave you a bath and who mowed the lawn?

Whatever your answers, gender roles play a huge role in how you expect women and men to act in all facets of all your life.

At work, this influences how you see your bosses and co-workers, new hires, team members – and yourself. And it’s an even bigger challenge because we don’t associate our parental bias as a workplace issue – which means it’s left even more unchecked.

Parental bias influences how you see everyone, but when was the last time you thought about how that impacts you and others negatively?

  • How does influence you to jump to conclusions or assume a quality or characteristic without question?
  • How does do you perceive another person’s aptitude, focus or commitment to their job?
  • How does it influence the social connections you make, or put more effort into?

Again, we all have parental bias, and we need to start thinking about how it affects us in the workplace.

When we become conscious of it, we can counteract it with deep presence, keen awareness and the willingness to disassemble what we often can’t even see.

It takes being open and gracious with ourselves, as we work toward an equitable lens.

Moving forward, ask yourself, “How can I get curious about neutralizing parental and gender roles to give everyone a fair shot?” and, most importantly,

“What would the workplace look like if parental bias didn’t exist?”

You can learn more about how to do this in your workplace here, but we want to take it one step further.

BOOK A FREE 30-MINUTE CALL WITH US