Battling Unrealistic Expectations for Working Mothers: Societal Pressures and Finding Balance


Battling Unrealistic Expectations for Working Mothers: Challenging Societal Pressures and Finding Balance

For working mothers, societal expectations continue to define their expected roles and responsibilities, making it challenging to navigate the demands of career and family life. Many women find themselves torn between fulfilling their professional aspirations and meeting social ideals of motherhood, not to mention finding time to prioritize their own personal well-being. Feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and burnout follow swiftly behind. At WiM’s upcoming Moms in MFG virtual conference, which takes place on August 11, 2023, keynote speakers, roundtable and panel discussions and a lunch and learn session will tackle the big issues facing moms working in manufacturing, including the societal pressure to juggle numerous responsibilities simultaneously.

In her presentation titled, “Battling Unrealistic Expectations,” Dr. Tassany Henderson, Associate Director for Career Development for the Office of Digital Learners at Vanderbilt University, will offer tips and tricks on how to navigate the impractical demands that mothers feel the need to meet. With a full-time career, managing her own blog and podcast and as a mother to three young children, Henderson is well-versed in the ever-elusive balance between work and motherhood. “The world has this unrealistic expectation of us in that if you are doing your career, then you're neglecting your children,” says Henderson. Inspired by the struggles she has seen women go through, Henderson loves to teach moms how to redefine their priorities, establish boundaries, and create a healthier balance in their lives. “It has become a passion of mine to say, you know what, moms, we deserve help. And a lot of times moms don't think they deserve it. That's why we don't get our cups poured into because we don't think we deserve it. We think that we're supposed to solely be focused on the spouse and the kids and the house. And how dare I ask someone to help me do the things that society has deemed as my responsibility?” says Henderson.

For women in the workplace who are also caregivers at home, the idea of asking for help often feels out of reach. “We have to un-train ourselves,” says Henderson. “The days of the mom staying at home doing everything else and the husband only having to bring home the bacon, those days are gone. It's unrealistic. There shouldn't be shame associated with asking for help. My oldest daughter called me a super mom yesterday. I want to be a super mom! But I don't have superpowers. I don't want you to think I'm super because then you think I can really do all of these things,” says Henderson.

This reframing of expectations doesn’t just look outward to society though — Henderson also asks women to take a look at their own habit loops. “Sometimes these unrealistic expectations come from us not having the power within ourselves to say no when we can. Sometimes we look at ourselves and say, oh, people aren’t going to think I'm as great as I am, or I'm as helpful as I am if I don't put myself to the side and help someone by taking on whatever they need me to take on,” explains Henderson.

The issue then often becomes one of commitment. “We can’t just want the balance,” says Henderson. “We have to commit to getting that balance.”

At the end of Henderson’s presentation, she hopes moms will feel empowered to take the steps necessary to organize their time. “I want moms to walk away from this knowing how they can prioritize work, prioritize their families and prioritize themselves because all of those pieces of you are very real and they exist and we need to know how to function within our own world,” says Henderson.

To register for our Moms in MFG virtual event, click here.

To read Dr. Henderson’s blog, “Life with Tassany”, click here.

To listen to Dr. Henderson’s podcast, click here or head to iHeart, Amazon Music, Spotify.