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Working mothers live with the constant guilt of not being available for their little ones and make every effort to balance work and home. Here are some real struggles faced by most moms who go to work
A PR professional working in a multinational company and a mother to a three-year-old, Mansi has a lot on her plate. She sometimes feels like she's in a race that never seems to end. She leaves early after preparing the meals for the day and drops her daughter at her parent's home. Her profession demands her to be available to clients most of the day; there are times when she's to work late and her heart aches to come home and see her daughter already asleep.
Mothers who are employed full-time always grapple with the guilt that they are not giving enough time to their children. Being a mother is one of the hardest yet fulfilling jobs and when coupled with a full-fledged professional life, a working mom has a daunting task to fulfill. Managing the kids, taking care of the family and juggling the responsibilities of the home along with a career, work commitments and deadlines put a lot of pressure on the working mom.
However, working mothers have the advantage of having a life outside the confines of their homes and a chance to build their dreams and careers. According to a study conducted by Kathleen L McGinn at the Harvard Business School along with Mayra Ruiz Castro and Elizabeth Long Lingo, having a working mother improves children's prospects. Seeing mothers work both inside and outside the home allows children to understand that contributions at home and work are equally valuable, the study says.
Nonetheless, the struggles of a working mom are very real. Here's taking a look.
1. The morning rush: Mornings can be extremely crazy for working moms. As a teacher who leaves behind her young kid at home, Shalini laments,
"The hardest part of my day is to wake my daughter early so that I can stick to my schedule and not be late for work. Getting ready for work while preparing breakfast, doing other household chores and getting the child ready for daycare/school is a formidable task."
2. Leaving behind an unwell child: There is nothing more heart-wrenching than to leave a sick child at home and go to work. I remember a friend breaking down at work because she had left her son, who was down with fever, at home. The guilt is just unbearable, and very often mothers of sick children take leave from work so that they can care for the little one. What this does is that it makes it difficult for the working mom to take an off when she is in need of rest.
3. Finding quality time: There are times when all you want to do is spend some quiet time bonding with your little one, maybe playing a board game or baking cookies together, or just listening to her talk about her day. Unfortunately, for a working mother, this is a luxury that takes a lot of effort and planning – even weekends are busy with sorting household chores and on weeknights, she may too tired or distracted to spend quality time with the child.
4. Having to make difficult choices: You put extra effort and time into that presentation so that your meeting goes off well the next morning. And to your horror, your child's school diary shows that there's a PTA meeting scheduled at the same time. You cannot ask your spouse because he is traveling. Prioritizing and choosing between work and child can be one of the unending dilemmas for mothers. Is attending the conference more important or helping the child learn for exams? This persistent, daily sorting of priorities can make life tough for even the most hardened time managers.
5. The elusive me-time: In the pursuit to handle everything, working moms often neglect taking care of themselves. They skip breakfast, eat unhealthy lunches, don't pay too much attention to grooming. They don't take time out for themselves because of the guilt of leaving their child behind. An uninterrupted movie, reading a book or a quiet evening spent just relaxing on the beach are things she may not be able to do. As Meenakshi, a working mom puts it,
"Sometimes, the pressure is so much that I wish I could just run off to an island, but then I realize that is being just outright mean and selfish."
6. Missing out on important milestones: "I missed seeing my little one take her first step. What I would have given to be there," says an HR manager and mother of a 13-month- old. Missing out on the little joys of watching your baby grow and reach important milestones makes the working mom feel miserable. It's worse when you have to hear it from others, while they describe the precise moment when your bundle of joy pulled herself up and started to wobble towards her first step.
7. Running on limited energy: You come home from work and are totally exhausted. That's when your children demand attention since they haven't seen you all day. They want to do something constructive with you, while you are still thinking about the dinner you can cook up in a jiffy! Sound familiar? It's an eternal struggle for working moms. You could read them a story or play checkers before going to bed, but seriously, who has the energy?
8. Daycare dilemma: Leave in a daycare center or get a nanny? Drop-in at grandma's home or enroll in a creche? For a mom with a small child, making the right decision is hard. While a nanny ensures the child is in familiar surroundings, a working mom will always be distracted about how the nanny is looking after her precious one. A creche means worrying about the quality of care.
9. Struggling to make it to playdates: This is a complaint that children with two working parents may have, and it is usually the mother who blames herself for not being available. It's worse when all your children's friends go for playdates, and your little ones are irritated that they never get to go. Between finishing deadlines, preparing meals for the family and helping with homework, where's the time?
10. Mommy guilt: The biggest challenge is to deal with the guilt that every working mother has. The guilt of leaving the child behind, spending less time with her and missing out on many moments of mothering. This underlying guilt always makes the working mother put herself last in the scheme of things.
Working moms are role models for not only the other women but also for their children and the younger generation. It's important to understand that it may get tough trying to make all things work and there'll be days when you feel like a messed-up underperformer. But be kind to yourself and believe that, in the long run, it'll all work out.