Dear Miriam | Job Stress Presses on Mother

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Dear Miriam,

I’ve developed a proposal to change my job to a higher-level position that I am excited about, but I worry if the board says yes I won’t actually be able to follow through. In my current role, I feel like I am constantly scrambling or letting down my staff because of all of the pressures on my time, and I’m also barely enjoying the time I have with my kids because of all the stress. I keep saying, “it will get better when …,” but that doesn’t happen.

At what point am I supposed to join the millions of moms who have left the workforce because this balancing act is too hard? The reality is that leaving my job is not practical for us financially, and we have mostly steady child care when our kids are not sick.


Workforce Woes

Dear Woes,

The pressures of the past 18 months are, understandably, getting to people in bigger and more persistent ways, and you’re in good company to be considering leaving your job.

According to The Wall Street Journal, 20 million workers in America left their jobs between April and August this year. That’s 60% higher than last year at this time and 12% higher than these months in 2019, pre-pandemic. There’s even a name for what’s going on: The Great Resignation. And, as you say, it’s even more intense for women: According to CNBC, one in three women have considered leaving the workforce or changing jobs in the past year.

As you already allude to, your experiences exist within this context. I hope it’s somewhat comforting for you to know how many millions of other people feel like they can’t keep up with the demands of their life and work, or are unsatisfied or struggling professionally for other reasons. However, you start by describing an opportunity to expand your role at work. While technically, that would still fall under the category of changing jobs, getting a promotion is a far cry from dropping out of the workforce.

I would encourage you not to quit your job. I would also encourage you to pursue the promotion. As difficult as things are right now, at home and at work, the issues are temporary.

Further, there’s a good chance that your employer would go to some lengths to keep you around since along with these job trends is the reality that it’s harder and harder to replace people who have left their roles.

As long as you’re pursuing a promotion, and one that you’re designing, take the time to think about what changes could make your life concretely better. Include in your proposal arrangements for flexible work hours, work-from-home options or more vacation days — whatever you feel like you need to give you some breathing room.

Maybe that magical “it will get better” time will be once your kids are vaccinated, or when they’re older and more self-sufficient or when some other circumstance changes. But things are very likely to get better for you, and leaving your job now may feel like it will solve one set of problems while, down the road, it’s likely to create a bunch of other problems instead.

Hang in there. These past 18 months have been challenging in ways no one could have previously imagined, and I can only guess that the recovery will come in ways we can’t quite imagine yet, either.

Be well,



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