Choosing Work And Motherhood
Many working women feel torn apart when motherhood strikes. The ones who need to work to make ends meet, of course, have no choice in the matter. But the ones who have a choice may struggle to decide how to strike a balance between two worlds. They may wonder what is the right time to go back to work, or if they should go back at all.
The bottom line is that it is a choice – a hard choice based on views, values, ambitions, desires and personality – and there is no right or wrong. Unfortunately, whether you choose to go back to work or to stay home, there is usually someone around to make you feel guilty. The only way to remain confident in your decision is to be true to yourself while making it.
If you are unsure about family support for your decision to work, you’ll likely question your path even more. However, the only question you should be asking is, “If I don’t go back to work, will my discontent affect my parenting?” If the answer is yes, the course is clear; children deserve mothers who are happy and feel good about themselves.
Of course, you’re not the only one affected by your decision. Maintaining harmony with a spouse and respecting in-laws’ and parents’ opinions is, of course, important. However, if familial harmony comes at the cost of your unhappiness, it will ultimately do more harm than good. A mother who gives in to family pressure and ignores herself will eventually crumble. At some point, resentment or frustration will creep in and can turn you into a grumbling wife, a snappy daughter, a begrudging daughter-in-law, or an irritable mother.
If your husband supports your decision completely, half the battle is won—the rest is logistics. Don’t take it for granted that grandparents will babysit your child while you go to work. While some may be delighted to do so, others may have a routine that keeps them feeling fulfilled and happy, or their health and age may not permit them to take up such a responsibility. In that case, look for daycares nearby and set aside time for the grandparents to spend with your child in order to make the situation fulfilling for all.
If you do choose to work full-time during motherhood, here are a few tips to keep you sane:
Trust your childcare. You cannot be in two places at the same time. If you are constantly thinking about what is happening with your child, you will not do your best at your workplace. Choose your child’s caretakers carefully, but once you have, trust them. In fact, express gratitude for the support they are giving you, whether they are your parents, in-laws, the nanny, or a daycare centre.
Don’t keep justifying. Your friends, colleagues and extended family may not agree with your decision. Accept their viewpoint without trying to justify yours. Don’t allow them to make you feel guilty. Focus on being true to yourself.
Make time for your child every single day. Ensure that you play with your child every single day, even if it is only for 15 minutes. Those happy moments will help you bond. Use weekends, too, to make precious memories with your little one, rather than plan for the week ahead or catch up on work.
Be there for important events. Figure out a way to attend the important events in your child’s life, whether it is the first day of nursery, an appointment for a vaccine, or a school assembly.
Don’t have any regrets. You have made a decision; accept it completely. Even if at some later point you decide to be a stay-at-home mom, don’t have any regrets for your prior decision to work.
Whatever you choose, whenever you choose, you should own your decision. After all, only a happy parent can bring up a happy child.