Being a mother has become – to an extent – about putting yourself in the line of fire for just about every decision you make. Most of the time, this is thanks to online forums and Facebook commenters that hide behind their screens as they lash out at anyone whose opinion is different from theirs. Not wrong, just different. Being a working mom makes you a prime target.
So, I’ve met with some interesting responses when I’ve shared with other parents that I choose to work. I understand, though. I know that moms and dads that have to work would donate a limb to spend more time at home with their little ones. They sit in their office in tears after having to drop a sick little tot off at daycare when they hadn’t slept well and just needed a cuddle. They get back home feeling exhausted and stressed from a day in the working world, feeling too spent to give as much as they’d like to their children. I’ve heard of parents that leave when their kids are asleep and come back when they’re asleep. And they have to do it all to survive. I get it. And I really, really feel for these parents.
My situation isn’t the same, though. I work from home, my hours are flexible, and my daughter gets to see me and chat with me all afternoon. What the folks that judge my choices don’t know is that I’ve never had to choose between my job and my daughter. The work that I choose to do gives me enough flexibility to do it in the morning, while she’s at school, and then have my time in the afternoon. It wasn’t always like that. There was a time when I was first establishing myself that I worked well past midnight. But, I didn’t have a child to worry about then.
I know there are plenty of other parents like me too. My point, really, is that; no matter how flat a pancake is, it always has two sides (thanks, Dr. Phil). And no-one really knows the whole story behind a parent’s decision or need to work.
I love my job, it’s my retreat from the real world. I love researching new topics (like when I learnt about the best places to kitesurf in SA or about the cycling trails of Mpumalanga), crafting a well-worded piece, and seeing the final result published. And I know I’m not the only mom out there that chooses to work and loves it.
Just take it easy on one another.
Added to this, I found some great tips on how a working mom (and parents, in general) can economise on time and make the best use of it:
- Approach your superior about more flexible work hours. You never know until you try. Start with having one afternoon off a week or working from home a few times a month. Whatever you do, be specific and realistic about your proposal).
- Shop online to avoid spending hours in the supermarket after a crazy day at work.
- Try to cook some extra meals ahead of time. This doesn’t take much more than tripling a favourite recipe and freezing the leftovers. Then, instead of standing in front of the stove after work, you can pop this ready-made meal into the microwave and sit down with your little ones to catch up while it defrosts.
- Give your kids chores so that your workload is lessened. If they understand that their help means more time with you, they’ll be more likely to cooperate. Probably.
- Schedule time just for you and your partner. A date night or a commitment to bathing together every night means creating a habit of putting family first.
- Don’t bring work home. Obviously, this can’t always be avoided, but it needs to be the very rare exception to the rule.
- Get over the need for perfection. A sink full of dishes is a small sacrifice to pay for getting to read a bedtime story to your children.