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Balancing Work and Home Life: 4 Ways to Support Better Mental Health for Mothers

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I recently became a mother for the third time, welcoming a beautiful baby girl in July 2023. Stepping into the whirlwind of newborn life with two other children in tow felt like diving headfirst into uncharted waters! Balancing the needs of three young humans has become my daily adventure, filled with equal parts chaos and love.

Motherhood, whether it’s the first or fifth time, is a beautiful yet wildly demanding journey that nearly always involves juggling multiple responsibilities simultaneously. From soothing a newborn’s cries, nursing, washing bottles, tackling never-ending laundry piles, constantly picking up around the house, shuffling the family to and from activities, and searching for the best deals on diapers… mothers face a lengthy list of physically and emotionally demanding chores. In addition to managing these duties at home, over 24 million mothers also participate in the US workforce. In the face of so many conflicting responsibilities, it becomes crucial to prioritize maternal mental health and well-being.

Understanding the Prevalence of Postpartum Depression

One major challenge that new mothers might face is postpartum depression (PPD). This is a serious and widespread condition that affects a reported 10 15% of women during their first year after childbirth. Based on these statistics, it’s possible that upwards of 2 million mothers in America alone are battling PPD while also attempting to navigate a return to work. Despite its prevalence, PPD often goes undetected or untreated; even though we have seen a greater understanding of these struggles in recent years, many affected women continue to suffer in silence due to stigma or fear of judgment. A supportive work environment that encourages open communication and understanding can help alleviate some of this stigma, making it easier for mothers to seek the support and resources they need to cope with PPD.

The Impact of Work-Life Balance on Mental Health

We’ve all heard the phrase “work-life balance” so many times that it’s practically a cliché, but trying to find that sweet spot is still crucial. Achieving a healthy equilibrium is such a key component for fostering mental wellness among mothers! Balancing the demands of work with the responsibilities of motherhood can be challenging, leading to overwhelming feelings of stress and exhaustion. The pressure to excel both at home and at work can amplify feelings of inadequacy or guilt, further compromising our state of mind. It can feel a bit like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube while holding your squirming baby – difficult and frustrating, but not impossible with the right support and strategies in place!

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Strategies for Balancing Work and Home Life

So how do we create this “supportive work environment,” which enables mothers to successfully tackle these demands? Employers and colleagues play a vital role in fostering a culture of understanding and support, which is a challenge that the Perficient team understands well. Here are some specific strategies that can help contribute to a better balance between work and home life:

1. Flexible Work Arrangements

Perficient offers a range of flexible work arrangements, which are instrumental in meeting the needs of working mothers.  After Ramya Pambi (a member of Perficient’s Sitecore team) welcomed her first child this past year, she noted that having a “fully remote position at Perficient was very helpful as a new mother.”  Alongside remote work options, offering unlimited FTO (Flexible Time Off) allows Perficient to accommodate mothers who may need to adjust their schedules due to familial responsibilities, such as those frequent well-baby check-ups! This flexibility ensures that mothers can prioritize both their work and their family, without sacrificing one for the other.

2. Access to Supportive Resources

In addition to standard benefits, Perficient provides additional specialized resources to support mothers’ well-being.  This includes an Employee Assistance Program (offered by Perficient through ComPsych), which offers free access to emotional support, assistance finding child care, financial resources, and more. Perficient also offers health insurance through United Healthcare, which features online video courses with tips and support for pregnancy and postpartum experiences. Furthermore, Perficient boasts a comprehensive parental leave policy that provides ample time off for bonding with newborns and adjusting to the demands of motherhood. In fact, Perficient recently partnered with Parentaly for a workshop on successfully preparing for parental leave as well as returning to work.

3. Open Communication

Perficient works hard to foster a culture of open communication and support, regularly encouraging all employees (including mothers!) to voice their needs and concerns without fear of judgment. Clear policies and procedures for requesting accommodations help streamline the process and reduce any potential hesitation in seeking support. In relation to this, it becomes equally important to ensure that the burden does not fall solely on the mother’s shoulders, but that managers and colleagues are offered guidance on how to best provide accommodations or adjustments as needed

4. Promoting Self-Care

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At the risk of dabbling further in clichés, encouraging self-care practices such as regular exercise, adequate sleep (hah!), and mindfulness techniques can help mothers nurture both their physical and mental health. Perficient’s LiveWell Employee Resource Group (ERG) leans into the idea of self-care by providing “a unique opportunity for our colleagues to unite, exchange ideas, and actively participate in wellness activities.” Connecting with peers and sharing experiences is a great way to boost one’s mental well-being!

Raising Awareness and Taking Action

Raising awareness about postpartum depression and the difficulties faced by working mothers is essential to effecting positive change. By fostering flexibility, communication, understanding, and support within workplaces such as Perficient, we can create an environment where every mother feels valued, respected, and empowered to thrive both personally and professionally!

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Melissa Page

Melissa is a Lead Business Consultant at Perficient, with over 10 years of experience in digital project management. Her passions include accessibility, DEI, and ensuring fair access for all at the table.

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