Stop Taking Out the Trash: A Resolution for Moms in the Workplace


A bit of advice for moms in the workplace: take note!


Earlier this year, I was listening to a speaker talk about being a woman in the workforce. When asked what advice she had for women trying to get ahead in a male-dominated field, her response was, ”Be willing to do the small things to get noticed, like if you see that the conference room trash is overflowing, take it out. Because things like that will get noticed, and they will add up.”



a woman in the workforce, standing in a busy office


In my 17 years working in events, I have jumped in and taken out literal heaps of trash in order to help the cause, and not once has that been noticed. And let’s be honest, if no one noticed that the trash got to the point of overflowing, they are certainly not going to notice that you took it out.


A lot has been said recently about the invisible work that mothers do at home and how to balance it, but working mothers also need to focus on the invisible work they do every day on the job.


After over a year of dealing with COVID and the strains that it brought in the workplace and at home, working mothers should all have a common New Year’s resolution: when it comes to their job, STOP TAKING OUT THE TRASH!



Not just the trash, but all the invisible work you are doing without a return on investment, because, as a working mother, investing your time is investing your most precious commodity. For most mothers, the time you are not working at work is time you must then make up on off-work hours just to catch up, and that’s time you are not getting with your significant other, your kids, or yourself.


an overflowing office trashcan with crumpled up paper on the floor


I once had a boss who would task the three women in the department to decorate the FIVE Christmas trees (two of which needed ladders to complete) in the building every year. Even with three people, this task was a large investment of time and resulted in a day’s worth of backlogged work. By year three of this, I finally got up the nerve to ask why every year only the women are tasked with decorating the trees and not the men. His response was, “Because you all like that stuff.” I promptly told him that I barely get my own tree at home decorated every year, and that I had more important work tasks to attend to that day and therefore would not be helping out with the decorating, and neither would my female colleagues who were also in the weeds. Did I get fired for doing this? No. Because it was not my job to decorate trees, and those trees had no bearing on my work, but I did get out of work that day without a massive pile of emails backed up in my inbox. Protect your time as fiercely as you would protect your child!


On a larger scale, as moms in the workplace, we also need to stop taking on extra roles without extra compensation. Most men in the workplace have adapted to the current “other duties as assigned” workplace culture by refusing to take on extra roles without receiving extra compensation. As mothers, most of us default to being everything to everyone and doing whatever it takes to get the job done.  While this makes us excellent team players and employees, that often comes with a price of our time and sanity with no reward or recognition to show. It. Needs. To. Stop. Working mothers need to start recognizing that their time and effort are valuable commodities and should be treated accordingly.


For 2022, make your New Year’s resolution to stop the invisible work and unpaid labor. Talk with a male coworker (or better yet, a female coworker if you have one) who refuses new roles if they aren’t paid for them and ask them tips on how you can make that move. Stop decorating the office trees, stop organizing the office birthday parties, stop volunteering to help out at the expense of getting your work done, and for the love of everything,