Career Woman

You’ve got this: how do I combat feeling so overwhelmed?

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Starting this week, Dr Froswa’ Booker-Drew answers your questions, putting her years of experience and practice into the goal of solving those knotty problems that beset us, and assuring us: ‘you’ve got this. If you’d like Froswa’ to look at your particular problem, email it to [email protected].

Dear Victoria,

It is very common to feel overwhelmed especially as you juggle motherhood and a career.  I think it is interesting that as women, we have been conditioned to believe that we can do it all.  We often put on our capes and wear the ‘S’ on our chest and if we are honest, something suffers even if everything looks great.  On the inside, we are feeling stretched and as if there is very little left to give.

One of the most impactful experiences for me was being a part of the Op-Ed Project, a group of women teaching women to use their voice as writers and thought leaders.  In one of the sessions, they referenced the shift work that women have but we don’t always view it that way. The first shift, coined by Arlie Russell Hochschild in 1989, was work and then the second shift was working at home—cleaning our houses, taking care of children.

In 2015, Dr. Jennifer Haskin’s dissertation, Third Shift Appearance Work:  Experiences of Career-Oriented Mothers discusses the third shift that women go through after dealing with their homes and careers that the beauty shift takes up a significant amount of time. Social media has exacerbated our need to pop right back into shape after having a baby viewing the immediate transformations of celebrities (who often have trainers, nutritionists, and cooks at their disposal).  We spend time keeping our homes together, taking care of our kids, the responsibilities of our careers and businesses and then, we juggle this shift of caring for our appearance.  Quoting Naomi Wolf’s work, The Beauty Myth:

“Wolf asserts that, while the beauty myth seeps into women’s psyches during her working hours, it is their duty to devote a third shift of leisure time to beauty work after the workday ends. Wolf’s conceptualization implies three things: (1) beauty work is mandated; (2) doing beauty work is neatly compartmentalized to fit within a woman’s spare (leisure) time, after the first and second shift are completed; and (3) professional working women value beauty and desire to adhere strictly to beauty norms.”

Wow.  I know I enjoy pedicures and visiting my stylist—when I can!  For some women, the shift continues beyond work, home, and beauty to identifying time to study as they pursue an education.  I remember when I was working on my PhD, I worked full-time, had a child in elementary school and married.

The weight was heavy and I realized that some things had to fall off of my plate. I realized that a spotless house was a dream.  Although filth was not an option, I also accepted that it would not be on par with Martha Stewart.  I grew up eating home cooked meals.  There was no way that I could do that every single day so I accepted that my family would have to figure it out at times.

I’ll never forget when I saw a group of mothers at my daughter’s school talking and I abruptly interrupted their conversation.  I asked, “Please help me.  I need to know how you are able to juggle your careers and keep dishes out of your sink.” They laughed and proceeded to tell me stories about how everything wasn’t perfect and it liberated me to see these successful single and married moms struggle like me.

You are not alone in your feelings.  My advice is to accept that it won’t be perfect.  Find a support system that can help you and trade off responsibilities.  Thank God for friend’s who cooked or took me out to dinner when I needed a break.  My mentors were the best—they reminded me that this too shall pass.  Now that I have a daughter in college, they were right.  It wasn’t the home cooked meals or the spotless house she remembers.  It is the time her momma made for her and that I modeled self-care so that she can prioritize now what really matters. And schedule those self-care times—they are necessary!

Breathe…You. Got. This.

About Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

Dr. Froswa' Booker-Drew is a Partnership Broker. Relational Leadership Junkie. Connector. Author/Speaker/Trainer. Co-Founder, HERitage Giving Circle. She been quoted in Forbes, Ozy, Bustle, Huffington Post and other media outlets around the world. In addition, she has been asked to speak on a variety of topics such as social capital and networking, leadership, diversity, and community development to national and international audiences. This included serving as a workshop presenter at the United Nations in 2013 on the Access to Power. One of the most impactful life events for her was being a part of the documentary, Friendly Captivity, a film that followed a cast of 7 women from Dallas to India. Honors for her work include: Semi-finalist for the SMU TEDx in 2012, 2012 Outstanding African American Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Arlington, 2009 Woman of the Year Award by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Diversity Ambassador for the American Red Cross. Graduating with a PhD from Antioch University in Leadership and Change, she also attended the Jean Baker Miller Institute at Wellesley for training in Relational Cultural Theory and completed facilitator training on Immunity to Change. She has also completed training through UNICEF on Equity Based Evaluations, and is the author of 2 workbooks for women, Ready for a Revolution: 30 Days to Jolt Your Life and Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last as well as a writer for several publications around the globe.

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