Experts say that women were one of the hardest hit by fall out from the pandemic in the U.S. According to one of the latest job reports, women were 100% of the thousands of job losses, with the weight of caregiving and online school weighing heavily on them. But with our country showing initial signs of opening up again—vaccines, businesses cautiously reopening, some to full capacity and mask mandates lifted here in Texas, what should women consider as they think about moving forward?
Today, I joined NBC 5 Today to talk about it.
Q: So we’re seeing the first signs of businesses opening up, and vaccine distribution happening. What should women, especially those who may have moved out of the workforce, voluntarily or even involuntarily be thinking about now in order to move forward.
LMS: First of all, it’s important to really consider what forward-motion looks like for you, and you don’t have to boil the ocean. This has been a traumatic season for all of us, it’s important to take things one step at a time. For example, if you are a small business owner or a corporate executive who has been working from home and managing online school, you may start to consider what it may look like for your child to return to in-person school. It’s important that you raise the right questions to ensure your family’s safety and well being as you make these decisions. What protocols are in place that will support a decision like that? For some, the baby step may be about getting some support with your daily responsibilities or tasks. Since, more and more people are receiving vaccines, this could be something as subtle as asking a family member or close family friend to take on one in-home task that may alleviate stress. Marrieds can turn to a spouse. Moms can turn to older children. For some it could mean seeing about hiring a virtual tutor for the kids, or even considering housekeeping services. You’d be amazed at how, taking one task off your plate or opening up your schedule for 20-30 minutes a day will alleviate stress and allow you to think clearer about next steps.
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Q: What about those women who didn’t leave voluntarily. Let’s say they were furloughed, and just never received that call to return to work. What can she do to move forward with a return to work?
LMS: One thing the pandemic has taught us is that distance can be overcome with technology. The good news is that we live in the digital age, and while before the pandemic hit, most companies were limiting many of their candidate searches to local or those willing to relocate, we are seeing more and more companies that have discarded that requirement. So there are more companies in your career consideration set, if you want to remain local and still seek out an awesome career opportunity in another state. But this also implies that now more than ever, you MUST have a digital footprint. You need to be searchable, and you need to be found online. Be intentional about your social media interactions and your personal brand online, and it can make a difference between you and the next candidate. These days, it isn’t enough to only have a resume.
Q: You mentioned earlier that we’ve all been traumatized… that part of the goal is to relieve anxiety and stress with the decisions you make. What else can women do to minimize stress.
LMS: Prioritizing self care is paramount. We hear it all the time, but practically this means that you absolutely, positively need to provide yourself with the space to nurture your mind, body and soul. As women, we tend to place everyone else first, but there is wisdom in what even flight attendants say—“Place your mask on before securing anyone else’s.” We must be our best selves before we can tend to anyone else, family, career, and so forth. So carve out at least 20-30 minutes of what we call white space each day, just for you, to nurture yourself—whether it is exercise, meditation, prayer, music…even a nice hot bubble bath. Remember, you can’t pour out into anyone or anything else if you’re running on empty.