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working mothers, a support system for childcare doesn’t just ‘happen’ – it
needs to be created and navigated.
number of women today rejoin the workforce after motherhood, whether
immediately after maternity leave, or after a break. However, the art of
balancing motherhood and one’s career is akin to walking on a tightrope for a
lot of moms.
As one of my friends puts it, “It is nothing less than a juggling act with nurseries, after-school care, early morning and late evening care options, holiday camps and much more.”
While there are various support systems available to help parents juggle childcare and career, ultimately every mom needs to identify and set up a system that works for her.
a strong fellow parent network
strong network of like-minded parents can make a big difference in the way we
cope with childcare routines. These could range from mothers in your apartment
or neighbourhood to mothers you meet through Facebook groups, WhatsApp groups
or local city groups.
for many mothers, such support groups are the go-to group for advice on any
issue, practical or emotional. They become our source of comfort, and a
non-judgmental place where it is okay to share the problems you are facing.
also important to cultivate networks with other parents who can look out for
your child in an emergency; for example, if both parents in a family are
unavoidably held up at work, a parent whose child goes to the same school could
be deputed as the emergency pick-up, while you do the same for her child when
fellow mom told me, “I rely so much on this group of friends. Not only does it
help me when I am stuck, but just to keep me sane.”
Identify what you need in daycare
For a dual parent working family,
it is ideal if the daycare is near either parent’s place of work and has
flexible timing options as emergencies can arise with children at any time.
Having early morning drop-offs and late evening pick up options even if at a
slightly higher charge can help mothers manage work and childcare without undue
anxiety. Here again, the parent network comes in very handy when identifying a
Companies like Accenture have tied up with reputed
daycare providers so that parents do not need to worry about the quality of
care or about drop and pick-up arrangements. As Divya, Software Engineer Team
Lead at Accenture Technology, Bengaluru says, “The daycare facilities are a
true blessing. They offer full-day support for my children, while engaging them
with activities that focus on age-appropriate educational milestones. My
children’s daily progress keeps me motivated. I can drop my kids, come to the
office and work. I do have complete focus on my work because everything is
taken care of in daycare.”
You can hear more about Career Reboot here, which enables
women to return to work with a host of supportive measures including daycare:
Setting expectations with your
A fellow mom, who is part of the
same local mom support group I am, says that she hired a nanny and had cameras
installed all over the house but in a transparent manner – while informing the
nanny as well. In the beginning, the couple would check in regularly to see the
happenings at home but after a while when mutual trust was built, they didn’t
feel the need to keep on monitoring. Setting expectations right in the
beginning is important for such a relationship to work at both personal and
Defining boundaries with family
As another fellow mom tells me,
she is extremely lucky to have her parents do everything for her son whilst she
is at work – especially since she is in a challenging, demanding and full-time
job. Many parents feel that there is no
more secure and warmer place than one’s own family to raise a child. However, with
families, there are no set rules or well-defined boundaries and so things can
become uncomfortable at times.
Even with very close family, one
must continue to thank them and express gratitude for putting in efforts to
raise one’s child. Like everyone else, they need to hear appreciation and
commendation for their selfless work. At the same time, help family members
understand what your boundaries are – which aspects of childcare can be
completely left to their discretion and which aspects you are particular about.
Another big source of
support for many working mothers, especially with young children, is flexible
work schedules that allow them to work for part of the time from home, and come
in as needed for work meetings. Having this discussion with your manager, and communicating
how you would continue to handle work professionally, can be a big boost to
Today, companies like Accenture are at the forefront of enabling mothers to work flexibly, and identifying arrangements that allow mothers to continue working productively while they raise families. These include programs such as Career Reboot, which allow mothers returning from a break to settle in smoothly.
In summary, while life does not flow uninterrupted according to set calendar schedules, there are always unforeseen circumstances that send our carefully laid out plans in a tailspin.
Some options work better for some
people than others. As a fellow mom so aptly put it, “I have run the full gamut
of options at various points in time—full-time nanny, daycare, live-in help,
qualified childcare, in-laws, cooks, cleaners, and emergency backups.”
Identify what works for you and
your family, and be flexible to make it work for everyone involved. The mantra
is, whatever it takes!
In association with Accenture
I have worked in the financial sector as a banking executive and in the field
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