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Life isn’t easy for working moms, we know that. These tips for a working mother come from a place of experience – read and don’t forget to share!
Congratulation, you are a mommy. That tiny bundle that you brought home has crept into your heart and uncovered your nurturing and protective side. But, now comes the gut-wrenching part…maternity leave is over and you have to join work.
Every morning, the parting is full of tears (suppressed or overt), you call up from the workplace, checking on the nanny (with nanny-cams at times), and have a rush of guilt all day long which reaches its peak when you finally reach home and hold your baby close.
We are cast as the primary care-givers by nature and also to a great extent by society. It doesn’t really matter how old your ‘baby’ is… six months or twelve years!
Here are some tips for a working mother to get through the Working Mommy Guilt.
This Steven Spielberg movie line is equally apt for alien-life and mommies.
a) Every day working mothers all over the world leave their children in childcare,
b) have done so since times immemorial,
c) while raising normal, well-adjusted children.
Ladies, millions of mothers are sailing in the same boat!
Keep these co-sailors close to you. Surround yourself with other working mothers, enjoy the pleasant fellow-feeling and camaraderie. They also make for a great sounding board for problem-solving. Preferably, stay away from people who behave like it is the crime of the century to be a working mom.
Whenever possible, pass on a similar assurance to another mom like you.
“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.” – Cardinal Mermillod
The term ‘sending or putting into childcare’ implies an abrogation of the giving of care (or love) to a person other than the mother.
Fact: You and your spouse are raising your child and no childcare or caregiver can take your place in your child’s life. You are and always will be your child’s mother.
All the large and small issues of childcare, i.e. feeds, studytime, TV time, playtime etc are being decided by you.
“Find the energy to give your all and learn to forgive yourself for the places you could not reach” – a quote I came across in Forbes
The first step, the first word, that important school-event, the first day of swimming lessons and so forth…all of us working mothers have missed some milestone of our childrens’ lives.
Instead of feeling guilty and depressed about what you missed, rejoice in what you have not. Let the first word that you hear be ‘the’ first, and the times you do reach for the swimming lesson be the time to gather up a bouquet of memories. Don’t beat yourself up about that PTA meeting you missed. PTA tete-a-tete with teachers do not a parent make.
Take pride in your choices. Be good at your work and keep knocking down those glass ceilings. When you reach your workplace, do not continuously call home, whine, nanny-text, sigh or complain about your ‘child-situation’.
“The hawk that soars the sky can still keep an eye on the baby in her nest” says a Marathi proverb.
Keep your heart with your child but your mind on your work. Not only does this attitude keep you focused, it also ensures the respect and co-operation of your co-workers should a true emergency arise.
The only Superwoman without a cape is a working mother! (But even Superwoman has help.)
Deputize/ delegate/supervise some jobs – spouse, grandparent, a home-help.
If that is not possible, compromise. Ignore that dust on your furniture or the pile of ironing, or order take-out instead of cooking a meal sometimes, if it means you can colour a picture, read out a story, or go to the park with your child.
Always prioritize and plan. “What is more important right NOW?” Have ten to-do things on your list, but do not fret if you never complete them all! Number ten may get done today and number one may be done next week.
For example, postpone the tackling of the dirty dishes in your sink, if it means you can listen to your child tell you what happened in school that day. Conversely, it is okay to let your child eat in the school canteen sometimes if that gives you some time to meet a deadline at work.
‘The key is not prioritizing your schedule, but scheduling your priorities.”- Stephen Covey
“The woman is weak, but the mother is strong.” – Korean proverb
There will be days when your child is sick or your boss is in a bad mood or your teenager is feeling particularly feisty or nothing is going your way…do not despair. Having a particularly challenging day does not mean that you have failed at mothering. There is no such thing as a perfect mother, just a mother who is trying to do the best she can.
Someday you will look back at this time and be proud of what you have achieved….but Hey! James Bond, trust me, that tomorrow will come.
“By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacation-less class.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
This is probably the most important tip. Most of us merge our needs with that of our children and forget our own. It is equally important to have a hobby, friends, fun-time, a work-out, or just solitude, even if it is for fifteen minutes in a hectic day. Dust off that Ikebana book, musical instrument, the spa coupon, the racy thriller, the wine bottle, bubble-bath crystals, aroma candle…or whatever gets your Chi flowing. The world will not end because you didn’t take out the trash or did not do the laundry!
A working mother is like a warrior fighting battles on so many fronts. But even she needs to hang up her armour and her weapons and be herself – a woman.
Hope these tips help you, and you are welcome to share some more.
My next piece will be on ‘How To Prepare Your Child For Childcare’.
Top image via Pexels
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Hi. I am an anaesthetist by profession living and working in Mumbai.
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