The Juggling Act

Recent years have seen the rise of maternal employment and mothers now juggle both full-time careers and also ensure that their families are happy and looked after. However, this dual responsibility is also a formula for exhaustion and many times, frustration for many women. Sometimes it even becomes a struggle for survival. Picture a scene where a mother wakes up at the crack of dawn, prepares lunch packs for her children, gets ready, wakes the children and gets them ready for school, drops them to school and goes to work from nine to five and on her return, does some grocery shopping. Once home and already bone tired, she prepares dinner for her family and spends time with her children who have been waiting to see her all day. And then the demands follow; read a story, play, listen to husband’s stressful work day and the list goes on.

Research studies spanning the last five years on maternal employment have all found that it is beneficial to families of low income or single parent families. In these families, children of working mothers demonstrated a high level of academic achievement and lower levels of anxiety and depression. While it may be beneficial or even necessary for many families, the challenges of maternal employment are many and meeting them is not everyone’s cup of tea.

The most challenging aspect for working mothers is the consistency of this work load. While many of us can cope with expending such a large amount of energy on a daily basis for a week or two at the most, working mothers do it day in and day out. Weekends are devoted to chores left out on the weekdays like ironing, mending clothes, visiting family and taking the children to various activities. Working mothers also are left to do most of the household chores even if both parents are working. Men tend to not increase their workload especially where domestic chores are concerned leaving mothers to do double the work they normally would if unemployed.

Other challenges that are faced by working mothers include,

·         No energy for extracurricular activities with children or family

·         Lack of a social life

·         Stress

·         Issues with child minder or nanny

·         Missing children

·         Time spent with family

·         Relationships may suffer due to lack of investment of time

Problems with childcare and the provision of quality child care is also an issue that women have to deal with. Often times, even when at work, mothers tend to worry about their children and wonder how they are. This in turn may reflect on their performance at work. The most difficult aspect for working mothers are the feelings of guilt associated with leaving their children in someone else’s care. This plagues most mothers’ minds and causes anxiety and stress.

On the flip side of things, many mothers are able to juggle both work and home life, despite its many challenges, very capably. Here are a few tips to help mothers juggle their responsibilities and make it easier for themselves and their families. Working mothers should;

·         Make sure that childcare organised is satisfactory and mothers are happy with the care their children receive.

·         Delegate household chores and other responsibilities. Have that talk with your husband as he will not guess what is making you cross. Tell him you need help and train him in the chores you need help with.

·         Get organised. Don’t leave everything for the mornings when you are rushing around like a headless chicken doing twenty four things at one time. Prepare the children’s lunches before going to bed, iron your clothes the evening before and make sure the alarm clock is loud enough to reach your husband’s ears so he can help with the busy morning routine.

·         Do your grocery shopping online. This will save both time and energy.

·         Make time for yourself.

Working and balancing a family can be one of the most difficult challenges of being a working mother. However, with some attention and care to details, things can become smoother and easier to manage.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: F.Y. holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Psychology. Her research interests are focused on mothering, especially in light of traumatic and stressful life events, and its impact on child development and child behaviour. Her Master's dissertation was on the topic of mothering in prisons and separation of mothers and their babies whilst in prison. She also writes a weekly column on psychological health for a foreign publication. 

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