Rihanna says work-life balance is ‘almost impossible’ as a mom in America
Being a mother in the U.S. is hard, even for a multi-hyphenate singer, business leader, and fashion mogul who is a self-made billionaire. Despite the access and resources such status brings, Rihanna still isn’t immune to the challenges of finding a work-life balance.
“It’s very different,” Rihanna said of her postpartum life at an Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show press conference on Thursday. “The balance is almost impossible because no matter how you look at it, work is always something that’s going to rob you of time with your child. That’s the currency now, that’s where it goes. The magnitude of how much it weighs.”
While Rihanna hasn’t released a new album or gone on tour since 2016, she’s headlining the 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show Sunday. And she’s spent the past several years hard at work building a business empire out of Fenty Beauty, a cosmetics brand, and Savage x Fenty, a lingerie brand. Last year, she gave birth to a baby boy with A$AP Rocky (his name still hasn’t been revealed). While the star and businesswoman likely has hired assistance to help with caretaking, it seems that she’s reckoning with the age-old pressure of “doing it all” and the mental load that comes with running a business and a family.
In that sense, the “Work” singer is like many high-powered women who speak about the difficulties of juggling work (work, work, work) with dedicating time to their children. Despite the rise of women entering the workforce since the 1950s, caregiving responsibilities still often fall on them, meaning their plates have only gotten more full.
“No one has more than 24 hours in a day,” Misty Heggeness, associate professor of public affairs at the University of Kansas, told Fortune. “If your work increases in one area then it is going to have to decrease in another.”
About two-thirds of working women in the U.S. with one or more direct reports say they’ve hired people to take some of the caregiving weight off their shoulders (from grocery delivery services to childcare and cleaning services), according to a Fortune poll of around 400 high-powered women made with The Muse and Fairygodboss. But there’s a stigma around admitting it.
“Maybe professionally, it’s more accepted to get help, to delegate. But I feel like as women we often tend to look at our personal life and feel like we have to do it all,” Molly McAllister, a chief medical officer and senior vice president of veterinary affairs who outsources service to make her home life run more smoothly, told Fortune’s Megan Leonhardt.
Finding a work-life balance can be even more difficult for women in non-executive positions, who may not earn high enough salaries to afford hired help or childcare. The unpaid labor and childcare costs have prompted many women to leave the workforce. About 4.5 million Americans were unemployed in January because they were taking care of kids not enrolled in daycare or school programs.
“I loved working and want to have a professional life again, but the costs, logistics, and the high likelihood of needing to be in-person [working] at pretty set hours, makes it all feel unrealistic,” Jennifer Parks, a former pharmaceutical manufacturing employee, told Leonhardt.
While Rihanna’s upcoming Super Bowl performance indicates she’s not leaving the workforce anytime soon, the burden of leaving her child is a factor when it comes to making career decisions. “When you make decisions of what you’re going to say yes to, it has to be worth it,” Rihanna said at the press conference.
She admitted that taking the halftime slot was “for sure” worth it; after all, it will likely boost her career as a music artist and put the entire business of Rihanna on display.
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