I love my job so much, not just for the income but the professionalism and the value it adds to my life. Little wonder then, that as my maternity leave approached after the birth of my first son; I consider the three-month long leave, at home doing nothing but nursing a tiny little infant, dreadful. I felt this would tie me down and restrict my movement.
However, I was in for a surprise!
I remember vividly, the day I first sighted my son and how I fell in love with him, immediately. He was cute!!! And most importantly, he looked tender, needing all the love and affection I could give. And all of a sudden, I didn’t want the three months to end. I needed to be with my baby. But then came the end of the three months and duty called…. I had to answer. The first day at work without my baby was hell. I called the house every opportunity I got, to ensure he was fine.
My little bundle of joy is almost a man now, with three other siblings and I still keep a job which requires that I am out of the house from 7am till 7pm every day including the time I need to commute between my house and the office.
From my personal experience and association with other mothers who also have thriving careers, I have come to learn that there is no ‘one size fit all’ answer on how to do career and motherhood, neither can you “have it all.”
But you can do both, and you can do both well!
How you do it, depends on factors such as: what you want, your situation, your home life and the kind of job you have.
What helped me to succeed can be summarized as follows:
1. Team work
I realize that to succeed in balancing motherhood with my career, i needed the cooperation of my family. Team work is required from your spouse and anyone who may be involved in covering up your bit when you are at work. Also I always commended them for their support. As a couple, we made adequate arrangements, to ensure that the home front will be well cared for such that there are no lapses.
2. Go for Job that Suit your Schedule
I always went for jobs that kept my weekends free and that will allow me close earlier in the evenings during the week days, so that I will have time for home work, dinner and other family engagements. I work in such a way that there would not be any need to work late or carry over work from the office or work on weekends.
3. Set Time Aside for Important Family Occasions
I mark holidays, occasions and family events such as graduation and anniversaries. I tenaciously hold on to family at such times, shelving off any other matter. No apologies, no explanation at work and, most importantly, no guilt at all!!
4. Recognize your limitations
I recognize my limitations and accept them for what they are. I don’t compare myself with parents who are able to follow up on all school activities of the kids. I liaise with my children and the school to identify when my presence is really needed and I make time for that. I also befriend my kids’ teachers and help them appreciate my limitations. In this way, they support me and together, we ensure that my kids do not suffer any lack.
5. Do not Berate Yourself for your Choice.
Many moms feel guilty about choosing to work; they are worried about depriving their kids of constant care and attention. But I tried not to do this. I realized that both I and the kids need the space, to grow. However, I ensured their safety and made adequate arrangements for their welfare. I trusted that having to do things themselves and to braze up situations on their own will make them stronger and more responsible adults. And believe me … it’s working for me
6. When at Work, be at Work
When at work, i make an effort to concentrate and try to forget what is going on at home, and do the same for work when you are at home. To be candid, this was particularly difficult for me, but I really had no choice.
But as much as you can, let what happens at the work place remain at work and what takes place at home remain there. Adopting this attitude will improve your productivity at work and also help you enjoy the time you spend at home as you are more relaxed.
7. Learn to prioritize
With so much on my plate always, I learnt to prioritize and do only what is absolutely necessary at every point in time. Remember to include rest in your ‘to-do’ list….Rest? …yes Rest.
When it gets to household chores, learn to allow your kids do it if they are old enough to and do not expect perfection. The dishes may not be done faultlessly, never mind, this is just for a short while. They will learn and becoming adept at those housekeeping chores. Although this meant that my house was not always spic and span, but that didn’t take away our joy. In all, do your best and learn to be less anxious.
Article contributed by Ify D. Ozoani
Former Banker, Admin Head and HR Professional