Although with due deliberation I embarked on the journey of being mother, nothing could have prepared me for what I had in store. This in spite of having witnessed my mother, who too was a working woman (meaning she held a job apart from working at home), bring up three kids.
Before my daughter was born, life was about two individuals leading our separate lives through our respective careers. Once she was born, things dramatically changed that very moment. Then life was about “her” and all aspects started revolving around her. At times this was depressing since there was no “I” and hardly any “we” and each aspect of life was an adjustment.
A conscious decision to continue working full time in spite of motherhood was the biggest challenge that I took on. The constant jugglery of a tight work schedule, long hours of work place out-station travel along with my daughter’s requirements at her various stages of life and the myriad of maids that I had to keep for sustenance, taught me life-saving skills that you only have to face to understand.
I am not perfect and hence everything need not be perfect but it has to be done, should be the mantra. Time management and prioritisation is the key to a managed life.
From my years of experience of walking the tight rope, I am enlisting a few tips for all working mothers out there, which you may suitably adapt to your environment.
Set aside differences
A battle halved is won is when you have your own people looking after your child rather than the crèche or maids, especially during the early years. I set aside all differences and issues with my in-laws and readily invited them to stay with me to manage and over manage the household. This took away most of my pressure.
It’s better to have more than one set of hands to work for you lest the single maid does not turn up for some reason. Backups will ensure you are not stuck with undue housework when you have to hurry for your scheduled meetings. Inspite of this there might be some contingent events, which need to be managed. Set aside ego and call for help – I cannot do everything and hence anyone and everyone in the house need to share work.
Starting early at work gives that extra impetus to organise your desk before the flow of work, which can besiege you.
Household as well as workplace work needs to be prioritised. List the To Do and set the priority. All tasks cannot and need not be done at the same speed and importance.
Nothing can be more critical than ensuring your diary has a record of important dates and days so that other things can be prioritised. I am in the habit of setting my diary in tune with my daughter’s school organiser so that I know upfront the probable days when I am needed at school or for any other critical tasks. This helps me realign my work schedule so that last minute mess can be avoided.
Prepare the previous night
Invariably mornings can be stressful. Hence all major preparations such as my daughter’s required stuff, as well as mine, are set aside the previous night so that mornings can be arranged in a better way and there is a buffer for unplanned activity.
The constant jugglery of a tight work schedule, long hours of work place out-station travel along with my daughter’s requirements at her various stages of life and the myriad of maids that I had to keep for sustenance, taught me life-saving skills that you only have to face to understand.
Weekends, apart from being time for chilling, are also used by me to ensure all the tasks such as school projects, shopping etc. are completed and the subsequent week begins with no pile0up tasks.
Feel no guilt
Invariably working mothers are struck with guilt for not having enough time to spend with their child or not doing things the right way. However, after considerable deliberation I have reconciled myself to the fact that it’s not the quantity of time but the quality of time that matters.
Be ready to say NO
There will be times when you will be caught up between must do social visits or functions and the much required weekend break. Be ready to say NO to the events if you so badly need the weekend to recharge your batteries. This may antagonise some people but it will maintain your sanity.
Reduce travel time
In my earlier job I was often frustrated since I was not doing justice to my job nor my home life due to the amount I was travelling. I chose to change jobs to be near my home and to reduce my travel time. You could look at this possibility, which would ease your burden of travel and provide additional time for office or at home.
There has to be some time set aside for yourself, which is only meant for you. Maybe it’s for visiting the spa or salon or for reading or just meeting up with your friends. Frequency and duration would be as per one’s requirement but dedicated, fixed intervals is a must. This will rejuvenate you!
Having said all this, there is no best-fit formula but broad guidelines which one can suitably amend to suit their own needs.
Although at times I may have pondered if it would have been better with me being a stay-at-home mom, but I have never regretted deciding to be a full time working mother. The sense of satisfaction of managing both fronts and being independent is immense.
With this thought I leave you to set out your action plan to better manage your life!