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Diary of a working mother

Updated - March 11, 2019 03:17 pm IST

Published - March 04, 2019 02:35 pm IST

Four moms — two of them, our own reporters — tell us what helped them achieve that elusive work-life balance

Young woman at work.

No compromises on Me Time

As a working mother to a six-year-old daughter, constantly juggling different roles at home and office, constructing my ‘me time’ is not easy. I never aimed to be a perfect mother, but have always worked towards stealing some time for myself (it could be just an hour) mostly on Saturday evenings. My mind and body are exhausted, yet for that one hour, I take off to do, what I want to do.

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— Neeraja Murthy, Journalist

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Keep calm and mother on

I was grinning when I switched on the computer on my first day of work after maternity leave. (I wonder if my son liked the 

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pulao  I made.) I was excited to be back. I was confident that I will balance my baby and my career, for I had created a reliable support system at home. (

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Has he slept? Should remember to buy that ointment for his allergy. ) But I soon realised the gargantuan proportion of the responsibility I had taken on.

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 (What book should we read this evening? I hope he doesn’t cry asking for me once he wakes up from his nap.) 

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Sorry about the confusing ramble, but this is how my mind works now. Thoughts about my 21-month-old son keep surfacing every ten minutes or so, even though I know he’s in the best hands while I’m away at work. Initially, I found this traumatising. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. But I’ve learned to deal with it.

For one, I make regular calls to check on him, and try not to worry too much. I fix personal deadlines for work so that I don’t lag behind. To deal with the guilt, I ensure that when I’m with him, I’m 100% there. No phones, no television, not even books (I read a lot in my pre-motherhood era). This makes the time we spend together valuable. And I look forward to it the whole day, which makes even the most stressful work days bearable

— Akila Kannadasan, Journalist

Get moving

I  divide my days into the different goals I want to accomplish. My first task begins at 4.30 am, in my running pants. My daily 45-minute run takes my mind off from the chores, and work. With renewed energy, now I can move on to my next task: packing about 8-12 tiffin boxes for my husband, two children and myself. Any physical activity that you do, just for your own pleasure, is the best way to keep you happy, healthy and energised

—  Jyothi Bezawada,  programme co-ordinator

Show your workplace

My mornings are generally stress-free, as my 11-year-old son studies in a school with a cafeteria that provides breakfast and lunch in its premises. After I got a promotion, I had to trust my instincts and have faith in the people taking care of my child in my absence. I get small toys as gifts once in a while as a token of appreciation for his good behaviour. I also show him my workplace and help him understand my absence at home. It always helps when you and your child have a connect with your workplace.

—  Vidya Rao, Software professional

Kolkata-based psychotherapist Mansi Poddar’s seven pointers to sail us through

Change the approach:  Our approach towards a topic causes stress. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be the best mom and worker that we end up burning out. 

Prioritise your needs:  If possible, avoid going back to work immediately after birth. You and your baby need you. Breastfeeding is most important and so is self care. If that’s not a possibility, try to prioritise ( pumping milk twice a day, and asking the boss for a day to work from home) 

Quality time:  Whether you are a working or stay-at-home mother, spending quality time with children is important and it impacts their well-being. Physical affection, letting children know you are there and allowing them access to you even at work is vital. Have touchpoints maybe a video call after their school or being there for dinner three times a week.

Can’t have it all:  Accept and recognise you can’t have everything. (I hate to say this) But at times we need to prioritise children over everything. 

Involve your spouse:  Get your husband involved from day one of your pregnancy. Teach the kids to reach out to BOTH parents. We burn out because we just do much more. Working women have not only to work, but also look after the husband, kids and in-laws. I often hear female clients say “I have to cook and feed the family post work. Husband is tired so he watches TV.’ Do you see how we set ourselves up for gender inequality. We have to stand up and ask the husband to do small things. 

Delegate work:  Having multiple caregivers is good for the child and you. Stop feeling guilty above it. You are a mother, not  durga ma . A friend once told me, ‘You can be the best mom on this planet' but still your child will have some issue, so breathe and do what you can.’ 

Seek help:  Focus on what you are doing and not on what you think, you should be doing. Seek therapy to help you manage stress and a safe space to talk.

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