Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Tips on How to Balance Motherhood and Your Career

Admittedly, motherhood is not a bed of roses, especially if you are a career woman. You can only have a nice fulfilling job, loving husband, great children, and a comfortable home, if you can get you priorities right. When patsy and her husband Jones got married, he was a civil servant while she worked in a multinational company. Her job paid well, but was demanding. Sometimes she worked seven days in a week. She also had to travel at short notice, she did not mind because she loved traveling; besides she made extra money on these trips.
          Jones made the bed most of the days, vacuumed the house every week, got the children to school every morning with good breakfast and picked them up, bought the groceries, helped the children with their homework, transported them to school and church activities, took clothes to the cleaners or used washing machine. He did the ironing as well. He stayed more with the kids than their mother. When they were ill, he was the one who sat by their bed, and nursed them back to health.
          Then there came a time when it became a crisis, for she spends so much time earning money she found no time to be with her family. She found domestic chores dull and uninteresting. She found her principal satisfaction in just one thing- her career. She never had time for her children, and usually snapped at them when they asked questions because she was usually tired when she came back from work. They would show her some of their school work, but she would just shove them aside telling them she could not go through because she was tired.
          As Patsy went higher in her career, she became more unavailable, but Jones did not complain. Things started to change after she rose to become a director in her company. She started to feel unsatisfied with the status of her husband, when she compared him with the company executives she met in course of her duty. She decided to divorce him and hire a housekeeper to look after the home and take care of her children.
          When she informed the children of her plan, they told her that they would prefer to stay with their father even in a shank than to follow her to a palace. As far as they were concerned, she did not love them or care about their welfare. Though, she was richer, the children loved their father more. They reminded her how she had been too busy to care for them, play with them, or talk to them and their father had always been by their side.
          Pain pierced her heart as she realized that though she had pursued a career and became successful, but she had missed the most important aspect of life, which was taking care of her children and showing them love. Set limits on work time. Know when, and how to say “no” gracefully – knowing your capacity more than anybody.  You just have to accept that you also need to take a break, or that you also have other priorities. Get organized so you can use your time and energy efficiently. It just makes everything easier. So spend time, even just a little time cleaning up your home and planning for your family.
Really, the reason for pursuing a career is both for financial stability and to have sense of achievement. But when your career becomes so fascinating that it interferes with the survival and comfort of your family, it is not an advantage but a serious disadvantage. Do what you are good at, and let others do the rest. Delegate some duties to subordinates. Asking for help helps a great deal. Stop worrying because things get done even if you’re not the one who had done them. Let others do their jobs.
 One problem is housework if housemaid is away. Neither parent has free time, so children usually are expected to do more around the house than they might be otherwise. Adolescent girls generally take this in good stride. But the adolescent boys, who are anxious to demonstrate their masculinity, sometimes resist complying. You must develop the ability to plan your life and to include your family especially the children in your plan. This does not have to diminish your vocational goals. It only means that when you get to the top, your children will be with you.
Another advice for the aspiring career woman who is a mother and at the time a wife is that you should get a job that complements, and not clash with your family life. Get a job you really love and enjoy. There is nothing worse than having a lousy job that leaves you drained at the end of the day and ill-prepared to face your family when you get home.
          Even beyond the consideration of the mother’s responsibilities to the children, there are the questions which have a bearing on a wife’s accepting employment. These other considerations center largely on the tensions that may develop between a couples as a result of wives competing with their husbands as wage earners.
          Ambrose and Patricia met at a fund-raising event for people living with HIV and AIDS. At the podium, he was handsome, charming and eloquent. He was a dazzling package. His speech had prompted the glitterati in attendance to be generous with their contribution and also had prompted Patricia to approach him afterward and introduced herself. Both of them belonged to different Non-Governmental Organizations that help people living with HIV and AIDS, even though both of them were negative. By end of the evening, they had made a dinner date.
          Within six months they were married, and for a year life couldn’t have been better. They both worked hard in pursuit of their careers, but they also played hard and loved hard. During those times, he had brought his self-confidence into their bed. It showed in the way he made love. He was a sensitive and generous partner, an ardent and considerate lover, and a supportive husband.
          Then the quarrels began, arising out of his resentment of her earning capacity, which exceeded his. She argued that it didn’t matter who made the most money that he had chosen a public service career, where emolument was poor. She was speaking the truth. He heard only rationalizations for his perceived failure. He feared he would never reach the level of achievement in his job that she would in hers.
          Over time his obsession with failure became a self-fulfilling prophesy. Simultaneously, Patricia’s star was rising. Her success continued to chip away at his pride. He sought to repair with women who regarded him as success he wanted desperately to be. Each time Patricia confronted him with his cheating he expressed deep remorse claiming affairs were nothing more than meaningless flings. But they were not meaningless to Patricia, who eventually threatened to leave him. Ambrose was unable to regain his self-confidence until the marriage crashed.
          You have worked hard to climb up the organizational chart of your company and you are proud of your accomplishments. You have dreams for the future and there are indications that within few years you would be where you want to be. But what is the joy if you get there alone? If you want your family to be with you on the successful climb, you have to create time for them.
No matter how busy you are, that is not enough reason for you to abandon your family.  You must create time to nourish your relationship with your spouse and your children. Off days and annual leave are important times that can be spent to rest and make up for lost time with your spouse and children. Spend quality time with your family. To be able to create time for your family, get and stay organized. Your time is precious. Engage in time management. You can’t afford to waste time looking for files, sorting through junk mail or even finding a pen. Keep available and clean and organized from the start. Have supplies available and in places where you know you can immediately put your hands on them.
By quality time, I mean giving them your undivided attention. A woman pursuing a career must balance her time well so that she does not ignore her spouse or their children. Children love those who love them, and while it is natural for children to be more attached to their mother than to their father, if the children spend more time with their father than their mother, they would be more attached to him, as could be seen in the above story.
Schedule a Mother’s day. This will be a day you can spend quality time with your family. You can work very hard other days in order to compensate for the day you will close early in order to have some good time with your family.
Spend time talking with the children about their school experiences. Spend time playing with them on weekends if you don’t have to go to work. When you sit on the floor, rolling a ball to your small boy, your attention is not focused on the ball but on your child. The important thing about this is the emotions that are created between you and your child. Your spending time with your family communicate that you care about them, that you enjoy being with them.  Take a vacation with the family at least once a year.
You must make time for your family as you make time for lunch and dinner, because it is as essential to a happy home as meals are to your health. If you are a very busy person, it might be a bit difficult, but it is possible with careful planning. It does mean you might give up some individual activities. The sacrifice is worth it. The pleasure of living with family, who feel loved, and who knows that you have sacrificed for their comfort will be great.
Children need nurturing, and care. Have a plan. Some career women use paper organizers and some use tech gadgets, but all of them use some sort of planner to balance their work life with their family life. Ideally, you should keep both personal and work appointments on the same calendar so you don’t overlook or double up. And while it doesn’t always work, you need to put aside hours for when you’re going to get your work done. If you just wait for it to happen, it never will. Of course, you’ll have to be flexible as your child-care provider will inevitably cancel, your child will get sick and your spouse may occasionally need to work late.
Stay focused, and don’t get sidetracked. One of the hardest things for work – at home mothers is sidetracked by children, laundry, dishes, etc. make a list each month of what you intend to get done. Then break the list down week by week, then day by day. If you stay focused, you can stay committed to getting these things done. When you are working try to be hundred percent focused on the job, and when you are at home, try your best to be hundred percent focused on your children and home. Sometimes, it is easy to get lost in, thoughts and doubts. During these times, try your best to use all your breath and sense to draw your awareness back to the present moment. After all, the past is behind you, and who knows what will happen in the future? This minute is the only time that counts. And if you make the most of it and every given moment, those brief periods of time will build into a meaningful future.
Your children are willing to give love, but they must equally receive love in return. While your career is important, you must never allow it to stand in the way of loving and raising your children. Do your children want to talk to you? Listen to them. A time is coming when they will be grown up and lives far away from home. A parent, who does not show the children genuine love and care, may be miserable later in life.
If you are in a personal business, where you are in charge of your own business, then you can work with you family, not against them. When your children are little, make sure your office is kid-proof. Get covers for your computer and child-safe drawers on your filing cabinet, and keep your paperwork out of reach if you don’t want your reports and invoices messed up. Some women set up a child’s office so that toys are available to keep their children busy. As your children get older, find ways to get them involved in your work. When they are old enough, let them stamp envelopes, find fliers or shred paper. Just never let them answer the phone.
If you are the type that does not like to rush out of the door without having had some quiet moments with your kids, then get up early so that you can spend some time with your children before you go out into the day’s activities. If you are the type that has to pick your children from school or drive them to after school activities, you might have to start work early in order to be able to make this possible. Break out of the 8-to-4 office or 9-to-5 office hours’ tradition. Your hours as a career woman might start before you family wakes up, continue during nap times and go on into the late hours of the night. Prioritize appointments that need be accomplished in person during traditional hours. But remember that e-mail, filing, reading, and a lot of your other office tasks can be done at any hour of the day or night.
As a busy woman, things like household chores and cooking are negotiable. Dishes sitting in the sink overnight, or having to eat out one or two nights in a week might not be a big deal. You have to realize that there are certain things you have to let go and you don’t have to kill yourself to be a perfectionist in all aspect of your life. It is not just a sustainable way to live when you are juggling so many things in family and work life. But in all situations, special attention must be given to your children and family.
Ask for help when you feel you need it. For example tell your husband you will appreciate it if he could watch the children while you go out to meet a client. It’s difficult to succeed without help, so communicate with your partner about how he can help you. You both need to remember you’re juggling two full-time jobs. Then tell your spouse how grateful you are for all his help. You can ask you in-laws, if they can baby-sit, the children, so that you can have a much needed date with your husband. In the office you should be able to hire an assistant, if the busy is yours, to whom you can delegate certain responsibilities, so that you can focus on taking care of the most important duties.
You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of your family, your business and your home. Just work it out in your calendar. Realize now that there will never be enough time in the day to get everything done. Oftentimes, mother gets her needs met last, which only perpetuates the cycle of exhaustion, frustration and chaos in the family, amidst all the chaos that must come with being a busy career woman, mother and wife. If you feel perpetually depleted because of sacrificing your needs for the needs of others, you will be unable to help your kids or do your job in a meaningful way. Maintain enough healthy balance to keep mind/body/soul at its best. How else are you going to be able to do all of the above, if you’re not healthy, able and ready? Remember you could wear yourself out, get sick, so relax, and recharge every now and then to be able to carry on. You must take care of yourself first before you can take care of others.
I certainly hope that the above listed tips would inspire you to enjoy your job and family more. Becoming a successful and happy career woman is difficult but possible. It on record that some women have achieved it, you can, too.


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