Juggling career and family presents women today with pressures, choices, dilemmas, and struggles. The workplace, society, and women themselves have yet to reconcile the time and commitment needed to pursue a career along with the role of mom. While workplace policies and social attitudes are evolving, today’s women face these issues on a day-to-day basis.
To start off with, if you’re a mother trying to decide whether to stay home, work full time, or work part time, here are a few essential things to consider:
Your family’s financial picture is obviously important. Beyond the essentials, household needs vary, and it is up to you and your family to decide whether staying at home, working part time, or working full time will work best. You may end up making a choice that could prove to be difficult for the household. For instance, if you choose to stay home or work part time, finances could be stretched thin. On tight budgets families need to sacrifice things like expensive vacations, cars, and places to live. Others forgo the iPods, Xboxes, Game Boys, and other “must have” gadgets.
Expectations of mothers in families and society can make it difficult for women who have different ideas. If the family tradition involves staying at home to take care of children, for example, working moms may end up feeling guilty about leaving their kids. It is crucial to determine your OWN feelings about working and staying home, because it can make a difference in your child’s life. Figure out what would be an acceptable work/home combination; struggling with guilt at work regarding family and battling guilt at home regarding job performance is a formula for failure. You need to establish your own individual comfort zone, and make a choice with respect to personal and professional boundaries. A mother’s level of fulfillment and the quality (versus quantity) of time she spends with her child are the biggest components to both, their intellectual and emotional development. Basically, as the saying goes, “if the mother isn’t happy, no one is happy."
YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER:
Your partner’s support of your decision is critical; otherwise you could be facing many difficulties. If your husband is unsupportive, he may not help you with finances, child rearing, or household chores. As a start, if you and your significant other disagree over whether you should stay home or work you should compromise on a six-month trial period to see if your working will work for the family. Also, whatever course of action you take, make sure to run by potential issues with your partner, otherwise resentments could build up on both sides. If you decide to work, for example, it’s important to figure out details…Who will pick up kids from school? Who will care for them when they’re sick?
MAKING IT WORK—HOW DO THEY DO IT?
It’s 11:30 am on Wednesday, and Injy has just received a call at work from her child’s elementary school. Her son is ill and needs to be picked up. Injy quickly reviews her options:
- Option A: Call her mom. (No, she’s away on vacation.)
- Option B: Call her husband. (No, he has an all-day meeting with an important client today.)
- Option C: Call her neighbor, a stay-at-home mom, and ask for help. (Sounds good, but her call gets no answer. She must be out, getting her hair done.)
- Option D: Tell her boss she needs to leave now. (This would most likely be met with hesitation and a deep sigh of discontent.)
After battling tears of frustration, Injy settles on a modified option D: Leave now, get up at 4 a.m. tomorrow, and go into the office early to complete today’s work. Sure, she’ll be exhausted, but isn’t she always?
Being exhausted is just one part of learning to manage the demands of being a good wife, mom, and employee. Sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and not having any time for yourself are common complaints made by working moms. But there are many ways to balance family and work successfully. If you’re a mom who works outside the home, don’t waste your time complaining about how heavy your load is; focus on finding ways to make it work.
Become the queen of routine. “I have a routine," says May El Shamy, whose sons are 2 years old and 9 months. "I know what I will do from the time I get up until I go to bed. Organization -That is my key to getting things done." May understands that kids flourish when they know what to expect and what’s expected of them. There are bedtime routines, morning routines, and weekly routines. And these schedules aren’t just for the kids. When parents follow routines, too, it sets a good example for children and helps to keep life saner for everyone! If you haven’t made routine a priority in your home, then now’s the time to start.
Kiss guilt goodbye.
Understand that whether you choose to stay at home, work full time, or work or part time, there’s no such thing as perfect motherhood. Successful working moms have a confident assurance – instead of harboring false guilt about not spending enough time with their children, these moms make sure that the time when they’re home, they’re really home. Without apologies, explanations, or guilt, these moms feel free to decline requests that infringe on their family time. They realize saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to something else, such as playing a game with their children.
Say yes to offers of help.
There aren’t any Superwoman costumes hidden in the back of these ladies’ closets – Simply the understanding that needing help is not a sign of failure. Successful working moms understand that they are only human. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Family and friends are crucial at all stages of family life and career development. So if your mom wants to have the kids over for lunch, then by all means let her. If your sister- in-law offers to take them to that birthday party that totally slipped your mind, take her up on it.
Balancing the needs of the family with the demands of work schedules is one of working women’s biggest challenges. Women, unquestionably shoulder the burden of being primary caregiver and nurturing mother at home as well as having to face and address real obstacles in their career paths. Being a successful women professional may take extraordinary effort but a balance can be achieved, and with it great contentment.