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The first step to being a working mom without guilt, is to accept to yourself your right to work and care about your career.
We belong to a new generation of women, and we are not ready to become full-time homemakers. I believe that women in India have changed immensely over the years. I see more and more day cares starting up in every nook and corner of the city. I see most of my friends and colleagues working their way out to maintain a work-life balance. They have become more career oriented, and are ready to take the challenges head-on.
Time management has always been a crucial factor in handling the stress that arises out of these situations. For a working woman, especially in India, it is a 24×7 ‘on the job’ scenario. The moment you set foot inside your home, you are immediately expected to take on the role of a homemaker. It does not matter whether both the husband and wife have slugged it out on the field. It is taken for granted here mostly, that women are supposed to multi-task, and put family on their priority list.
I am a hard-core sales person, and sometimes I wonder why it is that I do not encourage my child to take up this line of work. Instead, I find myself encouraging and convincing her that being a professor like her father would be a better option for her. When my little girl was four years old, she told me with pride in her eyes that ‘Momma I want to become an engineer like you’. I immediately shook my head and pointed my finger towards my husband, who is a professor by profession.
I do not want the same stress level for my little girl when she grows up into a working professional. So, what is the way out of this predicament?
Indian women are more prone to compromise with themselves or their career, rather than fighting for their rights. I am writing this from my personal experience and interaction with several working women whom I know personally. I want a different future for my child, and I would not want her to struggle the way I was doing a few years ago. I have been working for more than twelve years as a sales person, but during many job interviews – I was shocked to hear statements like – I have a stunted career growth, or that I am not ambitious enough etc. etc. I have also had the experience in which the HR personnel being a lady herself tried to talk me out of a travelling field sales job.
Here, I would like to discuss how simple changes in our daily routine can help one to cope with the stress levels generated with our busy work-life schedules.
I was wondering for the past many years if there is something wrong in my approach to my work at hand, because it leaves me depleted of energy, sad and exhausted at the end of the day. I was always thinking about finding an alternative career which would allow me to spend more time with my little girl, who was only two years old then. I used to spend hours preparing for any exam which would help me direct my career towards academics, or I would keep on cribbing about my current job role.
All this led to a huge pressure on my husband’s mind as well, and he told me one fine day that I could quit my job, if that was the thing which would solve all my problems. I gave a hard thought to what he said, and it lead me to do some introspection in my life. It was true that the guilt factor of not being able to spend quality time with my child was building these thoughts in my mind. I ended up changing my line of thinking, and in a few years, there was a monumental change in my thought process.
What I did with my life was prioritizing my work and life. I started noting down the things that would make me happy. In most of those notes, I found that I could afford to do most things (which were important for me) because I was financially independent. I had those invisible wings which gave me the breathing space that I had (unrealized) for the last many years, despite my stress levels. I realized that the day I would give up my job, I would lose my freedom of thought. I would become dependent both emotionally and financially on my husband. In short, I would miss being me.
I started fixing micro-goals for my life, which would lead to my inner happiness. I started working on my weight management, my writing skills, listening to music, going out to movies with my kid and all the other things that I used to do before marriage. Life was right back on track. I got a promotion, followed with a better opportunity in a fortune 500 company because I accepted my job and responsibilities as it was available to me. I started explaining to my child why it was important for me to work. When she understands today that I get money in my ATM card because of the hours I put in at office, she asks me to work more nicely so that we can plan for some fun weekends!
I have realized over the years that it is the sole responsibility of the working mother to take time out for herself. This would help one to become a responsible working mother, acting as a positive role model for society. I do not care if I miss out on a few chores at home, and I have seen that other people understand this in the family (because I accepted it myself first). It is entirely up to you as to how you manage your life. I have only one single chance to live, and I decided not to waste it in justifying my guilt of a working mother. I am a proud working homemaker today, and I make sure to spend some quality time with myself before anybody else in the family!
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