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We do crib about the lockdown and how we are missing out on a lot of things. One day I realized how much of my life has changed in the lockdown, and maybe for good…
As I drove past the Valley Avenue, in a small city of California, my heart sunk down. It started pounding heavily and the anxiety and stress returned in my head. It was the street on which my elder daughter’s school is. No, don’t get me wrong, the school is great by all means and both-my daughter and I love the school, the teachers and the nurturing environment. However, what returned was the memory of running from office, so I do not miss the train back home. What returned was the anxiety that came with it every single day, to be able to pick up the kids before the end of the day at daycare.
I am a mom of 2 beautiful girls, a person who wants to achieve things professionally, who has never taken an official break from my job, other than the maternity leave in both the cases. Life has moved on fast, like for most of us after having kids. The day starts really early, with the morning anxiety setting in as soon as the previous night. I start the day by packing lunches, meals, milk bottles and snacks, followed by constant ‘beat the traffic’ mode to reach the office post dropping kids. Also, I am not unique in facing this. Millions of us working across the globe must go through the same almost every day.
The anxieties eventually end up taking a toll and some pay off with health issues, while others by screwing up relationships.
I consider myself privileged to have two beautiful kids, a helping partner and a good job. However, none of this comes without a maintenance cost. The cost, in our cases mostly, is our health or mental peace. While the organizations do get what they want by the constant performance pressure, there is much more that we lose as employees. I see lockdown as some respite from the constant struggles we face every day. I still need to take my office calls starting early in the morning, I still need to cook and provide for needs in addition to my work.
However, still, I am not in the constant mode of ‘beat the traffic’ or pack the meals or let me reach office to show my face in meetings, ‘in-person’, because there is no more ‘in person’ per se. Also, as much as we want peaceful lives, with the constant pressures in organizations and the constant desire to grow, it is just getting difficult every day. The house helps and family support is increasingly becoming important for working women.
Maybe it’s a two-way road that both the organizations and us, as employees need to take. On one hand, the organizations need to release some pressure, while on the other hand, there must be a better and affordable childcare facility. If we do want to tap into the full potential of the women employees, and we want the right diverse representation at the senior management and the board level, these two factors must make the way and meet somewhere in the middle.
With the existing coronavirus situation, it becomes even more important to have a regulated and affordable childcare/elder care. More and more women will work from home and more and more regulated market around childcare will be needed, to enable parents to work from home effectively.
Last but not the least, the women need to rise for themselves, especially in closed societies like that of India, to ignore the constant judgements, stand up for themselves and make sure that their kids do not grow up in the middle of these judgements and disturbed environment, or we will end up creating the same society for our future generations back again.
I salute people like Indra Nooyi, who not only rose and grew in her career gracefully but also after stepping down as the CEO of Pepsico, has been taking extra measures to move the dial in child care space to help women grow in their careers.
Surbhi Arora works at a large Finance organization and is a mother of two beautiful
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