Inequality of Emotional Labor: How It Affects Future Careers for Moms

exhausted pregnant woman sitting at home office desk

Photo credit: (Kateryna Onyshchuk)

When people talk about being exhausted and mentally drained from their workday, it’s most likely not because of the physical aspect of their job. Although some jobs require a lot of physical labor, most of the “laboring” is the emotional component.  

Emotional labor is the definition of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job. And most of the time, employees are expected to regulate their emotions during interactions with customers, co-workers, and managers. That can be draining, let alone having to contribute and engage while doing so. 

Women are traditionally known to carry their hearts on their sleeves, which isn’t always the case, but more so than not, women are statistically more emotional than their male counterparts. That creates a difficult state of mind. Being a caregiver may be a woman’s full-time job aside from working their day job. Stretching the mental capacity at home may happen even before the workday starts. That creates distraction and can hold women back from performing their best work.

In the workplace, the expectation for women to filter their responses, manage the emotions of others and make their workplace “enjoyable” can hold them back from doing the work that will help them get ahead.

Here are three ways to help with emotional labor in the workplace as a mom:

Address Career Goals

Defining career goals and addressing them with a superior or manager can help determine what is needed to reach them. Creating a realistic timeline and reevaluate may also be helpful when coming up with ways to reach goals in certain time frames to get that next promotion or raise. Emotional labor doesn’t have to set an employee back, but reassurance could give them a boost of urgency or worth by addressing possible opportunities for the future.

Set Boundaries

As most employees have expectations to be met throughout their day-to-day, being a caregiver is a full-time job. Having another job creates an emotional barrier between priorities they may feel they need to set. Having set boundaries for both themselves and others around them can help with the emotional burden of their daily tasks knowing they have a hard stop at 5 PM or need to take the day to be home with a sick child.

Vocalize Distractions

Being vocal about emotional distractions can help destress and gain access to better resources. By sharing concerns around other employees, non-work-related events, or being generally exhausted emotionally, allows others to be aware, help you set your boundaries and know of stressors causing the distractions. This can only help an employee move forward in the right direction and succeed.

Women often blame themselves for being too emotional or emotionally invested, but that’s part of their nature. People are allowed to be emotionally connected to what’s happening in their lives. Sometimes that causes friction in other areas, such as the workplace, which is manageable but should be acknowledged and dealt with. Being vulnerable in the workplace has been frowned upon for a long time. But since the pandemic, maneuvering the work-from-home era, and some now returning to an office, the emotional labor that comes along with these types of transitional parts of life do bring stress and distraction.

Working through heading back into an office or just managing emotions  is normal and expected. It’s what is done to not allow it to affect future opportunities that will benefit those handling the difficulties of emotional labor. Finding the right tools to allow to continue working towards career goals, personal goals, and the overall well-being is critical when talking about a work-life balance.

This article was originally published on by Amanda Ehrenreich.