You drop your child off at the daycare/nanny’s to bouts of screaming and crying. You then arrive at your work desk feeling like a terrible mother… and guilty as sin. Occasionally, you feel a stab in your heart too, when you get the feeling that your child loves his nanny more. If this is a familiar scenario, welcome to the world of the working moms! And today’s article is all about getting rid of that guilty feeling with some effective coping mechanisms.
But first things first, you will be glad to know that a groundbreaking study done by American academics suggests that maternal employment i.e. the labor force affiliation of mothers with children 0-18 years, has shown NO adverse effect whatsoever on the child’s wellbeing after everything is taken into account. What is everything, you ask? While there are known downsides to the mother returning to employment during their child’s first year, there are also significant advantages; for instances, a higher income and an increased wellbeing which will translate to higher quality childcare. The net effect becomes zero once you factor these in with the ill effects.
Having said that, you have to be able to cope well if you want to glean said advantages of being a working mom. Because being a working mom (as many of us here can attest) is not all sunshine and roses, and can wreak serious havoc on your wellbeing if you are not coping well with the divided attention.
So,baby car seats, how do some of them do it? We posed the question to our resident mama and COO Jesmine Tan, and this is what she had to say:
“I try not to dwell on the fact that I am not with my daughter, but rather, how my role in this company is benefitting her, her peers and all the other parents out there who are in the same boat as me. I also look on the bright side all the time, by thinking about all the wonderful educational opportunities that she will get because I am a working mom.”
Spoken like a true working mom! – because she is. Sounds cliched but cliches often exist for a reason. It makes absolute sense; the more you dwell on it, the harder it is for you to focus on anything else. Your productivity will suffer as a result and consequently, not only will you still not be with your child, your career will possibly stagnate too. Start by slowly coming to terms with your choices and learning to let go of the guilt. Remember that you are hardly alone in this predicament, considering the fact that mothers’ employment rates have been climbing steadily over the years.
To further cope, it is best you get cracking and find the best daycare or nanny for your child before going back to work. Having a trustworthy one can take a lot of the stress off, which is why it is vital to do proper research. A daycare or a nanny is someone you entrust your child’s early development and wellbeing with, and should be placed in the same importance bracket with their future education plan (you will not compromise on their education, will you?). In fact, we would argue that selecting a good daycare edges out the latter in importance due to the fact that a child’s early years will lay the foundation for everything that is to come. Pick the right one and you will arrive at your work with less worry – guaranteed.
But it doesn’t stop there. Juggling work and children calls for good time management, and one can start by getting organised the night before. Decide what to make for breakfast, prepare the ingredients, pack your child’s lunchbox, lay out their outfits (and yours) and place everything you need by the door so that you will not miss anything on your way out the next morning. Doing all of these the previous night will allow you to enjoy breakfast time with your child every morning, not to mention minimise your chances of starting the day out on a frantic note!
The corporation you work with contributes to your wellbeing more than you think as a working mom. For one,baby feeding, not all corporations in Malaysia are mom-friendly and if you suspect that yours is not, try to convey your needs as a mother to the higher-ups. Lisa Pierson Weinberger, a lawyer and the founder of the website Mom, Esq. has suggested “researching whether other employees have flexible arrangements and using this information to your advantage” when communicating with yours. Otherwise, you can try directing your supervisor to Applecrumby & Fish, as we have been working hard in offering support to corporates be it for their nursing rooms, daycare facilities and more.
In saying that, corporations try their best to accommodate working moms for a reason, so if you are lucky enough to be in a mother-friendly company culture, you want to maximise time spent with your family as much as possible during non-working hours. Try to avoid anything to do with work and spend the time bonding with your partner (don’t forget that he is an important source of support) and your child instead. Get together for some fun family activities that will enhance your relationship during the weekend and we promise that you will go to work on Monday feeling a lot more rejuvenated (thanks, oxytocin!) and less guilty.
Here’s the last tip: to truly achieve a proper work-family balance, you must not neglect your own wellbeing. The overworked mom is an increasingly regular trope on TV because too often, working moms who can’t get rid of the guilty feeling will put excessive demands on themselves in trying to achieve the perfect work-life balance. Doing so will put enormous strain on yourself and you cannot be an effective partner and parent if you are constantly tired! We doubt there is a perfect work-life balance anyway – everyone is constantly trying to cope in their own way so this bears repeating: You are NOT alone.
So relax. Take some time out for yourself, indulge in a book or a relaxing bath time (whatever floats your boat, moms!) and most importantly, remember to breathe. As soon as the stress has ebbed away, you will find yourself more capable of handling anything coming your way! And from that alone, we dare say that taking care of yourself is the best coping mechanism for a working mom there is.