We understand that in order to be your best you have to take care of yourself. It is all too often that being #1 for everyone else comes to the detriment of our own well-being. Career and family compete for our time and one usually ends up suffering over the other. That’s why DispatchMom was created. To give parents control over their time and retain their energy.
We see a future where moms aren’t exhausted juggling the demands of their careers while raising a family. Biased gender roles have us putting out fires while being pulled in five different directions. On average moms spend 14 hours a week on childcare and 18 hours a week on housework. That’s 32 additional hours on top of everything else. The extra weight is keeping many from reaching their potential. While we have come a long way, there are still improvements to make; in our workforce, in society, and at the home front.
The Balancing Act highlights stories of mothers who are no stranger to this imbalance. Despite this, they’ve managed to grow successful careers and enjoy hobbies while keeping everyone under the roof in one-piece! ;) Let’s say they’ve mastered the art of kicking a** and putting everyone to bed on time. In this series, we hear from local women who have earned the DispatchMom title. Instead of depleting their battery week after week, they’ve found a balance in parenting by knowing when to hustle and when to delegate. Here, they give tips and share some of their wisdom to inspire us. To be a DispatchMom is to realize motherhood isn’t a substitute for chasing everything you’ve dreamt of in life. Learn to find balance and seize the motto: Live More, Chore Less.
Stat sources: US Census Bureau, USDA, BabyCenter/IAB Weber Shandwick, Personalcreations.com, Pew Research
The Balancing Act
DispatchMom: Arezou Zarafshan, Founder DispatchMom
I am a former corporate executive, startup founder, startup investor, startup coach and advisor, mom, wife, dog-mom, friend, staunch advocate for women and in love with life and all of its adventures. I get in trouble a lot for speaking up for what I think is right which is often around women and the unfair pressures they face in the society and workforce; I have even lost a job over this! That said, it is a core defining element of my being. To stand up for what I believe in and be a resource for women who are trying their hardest to drive positive change for their families and communities.
Where did you begin your career?
I was hired by Hewlett Packard before I graduated from the university and that was an amazing experience. HP Way defined my work ethics and greatly influenced who I have become. I am forever grateful for starting my career in such an incredible company.
How did you grow into your current position?
Oh, I definitely have taken a meandering path and I think that has been key to where I am now. In 2002, I took a foreign assignment and lived in Asia for a year. Then, in 2010, I completely redesigned my career to focus on marketing versus engineering. In 2016, I left the corporate world and joined the startup world (which I still am in). This diversity of experiences have helped me become an empathetic and hopefully, open-minded leader. Ultimately, my goal is to make a dent. To help others as they are lifting themselves up. My meandering path is my guide!
When is it most difficult to balance “being a mom” as well as your career?
When? Every day! Every Single Day!
Balancing providing to the needs of your child with your obligations at work is a huge challenge. Oftentimes, you try to quiet down the kiddo so you can stay focused. Sometimes that is okay. Other times and later that day/week/year, you realize that you should have just dropped the work thing and taken care of the child. This balancing act, to figure out what is the right thing to do and when, is an art. Some moms draw a hard line and say that the needs of their child comes first. But what if you are on a call with a very big new client and your boy is upset because his favorite toy is missing? Do you drop the call and go soothe your boy? Or do you try to isolate yourself so you can finish the call? Neither of these answers are wrong and to figure out what to do at that very moment with objectivity and a clear mind is the true “balancing act”.
What do you do to manage your time?
I am a big believer in schedules and planners. Every Sunday, I *try* to plan my week ahead and put things in my calendar and my paper planner. In addition, I am very clear with my family about my schedule and my time. I have found that the surprise element for my son (when he thinks mommy is available to play and learns otherwise) is really detrimental so I tell him when I have a call, when he can expect for me to resurface, etc.
What challenges have you faced in regard to gender imbalances in the society, workforce, etc?
Personally and in the workplace, I have faced more implicit challenges than explicit. In general, what I have learned is an outspoken, driven, olive-skinned, non-US-born woman is not often celebrated. I have learned that often, my passion is interpreted as anger and my drive is interpreted as “power-hungry”. I have heard those terms. The cost? Well, passed over for promotion, lost my job under the pretense of budget cuts, undermined (sadly more by women than men). It is really unfortunate that these issues exist, still, in 2020. I will give a shoutout to HP again here which was an amazingly progressive company and encouraged all of their employees, women and men, to be themselves and bring their whole self to work. Everyone was respected for their perspectives and experiences. If someone’s style was interpreted differently, there was a private and constructive conversation between them. If you didn’t get the promotion, you were clearly explained why the other candidate was more qualified; none of those vague “We found him to be a better fit” jargon.
I really hope and look forward to every single workplace in the US and ultimately the world becoming a place where people are celebrated for their experiences and the value they add to the organization.
How have you dealt with these challenges?
I am going to be honest. Not well. I have paid a heavy price for raising awareness and speaking out against imbalances that I have observed, both in the case of men and women. That said, if I have been able to make a tiny difference for someone in some way, I would consider myself successful. For me, internally, if I feel like I acted in accordance with my values, I am fine with the consequences.
Advice to your younger self?
Take risks early and often. Don’t get married before 35! Chill out more; not every issue is worth going into a war for!