With equal educational opportunities, more and more women are stepping out of their traditional roles of daughter-in-law/wife/ mother, and are joining the workforce. The most significant problems of working mothers start when they have to go to work, leaving behind their child. Isn’t it?
Even if the child is taken care of by a nurse, grandmother or even by her own husband who is the father of the child, the mother’s heart goes for a flip and she finds herself asking the same question, thousand times, “Am I doing the right thing by leaving behind my child for the sake of my career?”
Explore the problems of working mothers:
A working mom has to face challenges on two fronts. One at the workplace and the second at home.
- One has to get up early than the family so that you are done with your daily chores before the child gets up.
- Ensure that the child is ready to go to school.
- If the child is not well, the mom has to take her to the clinic, give instructions to the caretaker or take leave or work from home, if the situation is not good.
- She has to look after the daily needs of the child and ensure that they are properly being taken care of. The working mom has to listen to the entire day’s happenings of her child and at the same time help him/her, deal with issues he/she is facing at home or school.
- In some situations, if she is lucky enough, she may have the support of her spouse and other family members. Otherwise, she has to face these challenges alone.
At the workplace:
- One may realize that the society demands on achieving perfection at both home and work fronts which is tough.
- The colleagues and the boss might never care about the responsibilities at home and expect her to work and bring results.
- While meeting the deadlines of the target assigned at work sometimes taking care of the child might take a backseat.
- This may happen most of the times and is very common that one may put in extra hours of work by coming early to the office but when she wants to leave early, she has to face the taunting comments of her colleagues.
- The boss never understands that when you ask for a leave it is for some emergency related to your child.
- You are not assigned to important work because the boss assumes that working mothers are not serious about their work.
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Negative effects of being a working mother on the child:
When a child realizes the difference between his/her working mother and that of his friend’s stay at home mother, he/she either feels jealous or has FOMO on fun and enjoyment his/her friend is having.
What hurts the child most is the absence of the mother when he/she wants her the most. At prominent occasions like a parent-teacher meeting, field trip, annual day, sports day, etc. the absence is felt deeply.
The child has to wait for his/her mother until she returns from the workplace to convey the most exciting news or achievements of his life. In the meantime, the enthusiasm dwindles. The child may have all the comforts money can buy but he/she yearns for one single great comfort which only a mother can provide.
Working mom guilt:
Every working mother has to live with the guilt at some time or other that she has neglected her child for the sake of career. She might assume the role of a super mom, taking every single care of her child and at the same time putting in extra efforts in her career. But one single failure or disaster in her parenting duty and she is ridden with guilt.
She forgets that such failures or mistakes can happen to any mother either stay-at-home or working mom. Somehow the mother has to come out of this guilt and take things as they are. She has to stop blaming herself if the child is hurt, sick, having problems with friends or is not doing well in academics. She should remember that kids with full-time mothers also face such problems.
Positive effects of a working mother on the child:
As the child grows, he/she starts understanding the struggles and gains of his/her working mom and develops empathy. Many times the child is proud of his/her working mother and becomes responsible, independent and at the same time helpful. When I asked my grown-up son Prashanth, how he felt as a child when both his parents were working, this was his reply –
“As a child growing up with a working mother I had the following advantages –
I enjoyed the freedom I got when my parents were not around. I got to explore my imaginative side and improve my creativity. At that time there were no mobile phones and had limited channels on the TV.
So I spent time with my toys, children’s magazines and sketching. I also went for tennis coaching which kept me occupied until my mother returned home. This helped me to be disciplined and be physically active.
As my mother was a teacher, once in a while I would get an opportunity to sit in her class whenever I had a holiday in my school. I would make new friends and observe the differences in what I learned and what is being taught.
Finally, I grew up to be an independent and confident person. I would share my thoughts and seek advice from my mother only when there was a need. I would spend some quality time with my parents when there were vacations, and we went on trips.”
According to a Harvard Business School study,
The next generation of kids having working moms will be more successful in their careers, earn more money, and narrow the gender gap even more, once and for all.
Daughters of working mothers will grow up to be more successful in the workplace than their peers.
Men raised by working mothers will be more likely to contribute towards household chores.
Tips to solve the problems of working mothers:
Following tips can ease the tension and last minute adjustments of a working mother.
- Plan and organize your work at home before-hand so that you reach office on time.
- Make a list of works which you can do after coming back from office.
- Make a list of phone numbers of people whom you can approach in case of an emergency, who you think can take care of your child when you are at work.
- Having a good relationship with in-laws, parents, siblings, and relatives really help when there is no other option and you have to leave your kid with them.
- Make your colleagues and boss aware that your kid is as important as the work. This helps when you want to take a day off or apply for leave.
Every woman dreams of a career and financial independence when pursuing her academics. The years of hard work and planning is cut short with marriage and arrival of a baby. The mother’s heart is torn between love for her child and her career.
I remember how much I cried when I left my child for the first time in a daycare center. With a little understanding, support from family, and our own planning we overcame the difficult times, and became a working mother!