Work-Life Balance – The Dilemma of a Working Mom

Work-Life balance
Work-Life balance
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Work-Life balance
Work-Life balance. Photo-Ed Yourdon/Flickr

Are you constantly stressed out? Do you suffer from perpetual pangs of guilt – not being there for your child’s PTA meeting, pending deadlines at work, forgetting dinner dates with friends? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Being a working mom is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. To juggle a full time job with family life is an art, that many women have yet to get used to. Being a full time working mom can lead to feelings of guilt and stress because of the need to divide attention between work and home.

There was a furore in the work force community a couple of days back when Yahoo CEO Mariss Mayer restricted flexiblity at work, banning “working from home” option for its employees. Understandably  many working moms were upset. Ms.Mayer’s argument is that physical presence at work place fosters collaboration and improves work . Critics say that Marissa Mayer has taken a huge leap backwards and will discourage great talents from joining the company, when competitors like IBM, Intel, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Cisco, HP et al , have some of the most flexible work policies that has enabled them to hire some of the best talents in the industry and is a real boon for working mothers in these companies. It has enabled them to stay on top for decades because of their flexible work policies for working women.

With this regressive step, it remains to be seen if Yahoo will be able to get its foot back on lost ground. Working moms for sure will think twice before joining Yahoo. Incidentally, the Scandanavian countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway & Netherlands have the highest percentage of working mothers in the world because of the support system these nations provide for their women.

So what do women really want at work? If a company can provide that perfect work-life balance, & work flexibility, there is no doubt that the working moms can be one of the most productive in the industry. With that said, once a woman goes the family way, her priorities change. Many see working part-time as the ideal choice to balance work life. Many progressive companies do allow this switch as a temporary option or as a permanent one.

“We’ve seen that employees’ productivity goes way up” after switching to part-time, says Dr. Jeff Hill,PhD, a professor in the College of Family Home and Social Sciences at Brigham Young University and a former human resources manager at IBM. He helped the cause of greater acceptance of part-time and other creative work arrangements that increased the productivity of employees. “They’re more results-oriented.”  The Best Companies support that part-time view—for instance, IBM, which has been on the 100 best list every year since its founding in 1986, allows part-timers to forgo “low value” activities like long (and, face it, often tedious) meetings and conference calls,” says Dr. Hill. “That way, “they figure out how to get the job done” in less time.”

So what can working moms do to make their life easier ? Here are a few tips:

1. Say bye to the guilt factor: come to terms with the fact that you are not alone. And as a mother, there will be the good times and the not so good times. Prioritize and organize your schedules so that you don’t get frazzled.

2. Find qualified childcare: network with friends, family, colleagues to find references for a good nanny or a daycare. Make sure that you interview potential candidates thoroughly and get references before you hire them. A good daycare facility will have flexible hours, great play space and trained child care providers.

3. Organize your family time: set aside some time each weekend to review your calendar and highlight important family dates, school & family events for the week. This helps you to be more organized and prepared so as to not miss important events.

4. Organize your mornings better: morning time is one of the worst rush hour for working moms. Getting children ready for school, preparing their lunch boxes, et al can be a crazy task if not properly planned out. Make sure  children’s clothes and yours are ready the night before. Plan breakfast/lunch in advance so that you don’t waste time in the morning.

5. If you have a support system, like your in-laws or your parents who can help out anytime during the day, there is nothing like it. In South Asian families, this is a huge blessing, as more and more women are venturing out in the work field.

6. Always communicate with your employer prior about their maternity leave policies and flexibility for work hours.

7. Stay connected with your children, once they get back from school. Call and talk to them about their day, and how they can plan out  their school work, so that you can spend quality time when you get back from work.

8. When at home, make sure that you are 100% with your family. Avoid time wasters, like Internet browsing, TV, calling friends, etc which can be done after the children are asleep.

9. Create exciting activities over the weekend with the family. Movies, dinner, board games, picnics, trekking, anything that will help you bond better and what your children love.

10. Always make sure that you create “Me Time” for yourself. Go for a spa, indulge in a good book, pursue your passionate hobby, eat well and get enough rest. Time management is the key, and you don’t have to be a Supermom to be that!

Greater acceptance of companies, that women can be a productive workforce, goes a long way in supporting the cause of working women. As an old African adage goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It is the  collective responsibility of  the community, that the best interests of women and children are never compromised, in our bid  to build great economies and greater nations.

Below is an Infographic from LinkedIn based on a survey of more than 5,300 working women across 13 countries in celebration and support of International Women’s Day on March 8th. The survey was conducted to better understand the challenges that women face in their careers, how women viewed success in the past and what success means now, if professional women worldwide believe that they can balance work and family and how online networks help them with their career.


what women want - linkedinMs

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