How we juggle our lives around careers and caregiving
It’s wonderful being a woman. There’s a lot that we women do and that we must take great pride in, I mean especially after taking a role of a mother, your responsibilities multiplies, simply because in front of you have one more individual who takes up a higher priority in your life, many a times, more than you. But that doesn’t mean that you have to stop pursuing your dreams. Your baby cannot be your excuse to chase your dreams. Take the decision of heading back to work if that’s your calling by talking it out, discuss with your partner and ask for help. And the question that will arise is, Is it difficult to juggle between work and home? Well, here’s my story if this can inspire any other woman reading this space, I am happy I got a chance to share my experiences during this phase I call, “A constant discovery” or a “Happy rollercoaster ride”. All a new mother can do, is to fasten their seat belt and enjoy the ride.
It’s been close to two years of juggling between my daughter and my work and I would say I constantly learn and unlearn every day. I took my stipulated maternity leave, the 90 days period and it was just enough time to nurse your baby and recover from the delivery. In my case, it took a bit longer, as I had to cope with a lot of minor but too many health issues, so sorting it one by one took nearly two extra months and hence I got my leave extended by another 60 days. All in all, I took a five months maternity break.
I wouldn’t have contemplated about anything except for going back to work, so much ever but in these five months post my delivery, the various stages of coping with health issues, while still trying to nurse the baby, changing diapers and staying awake late nights, in general, I felt like a juggler trying to attain perfection to ending up losing only patience. I wasn’t averse to the idea but definitely it was a tiresome journey. I slowly began to get homesick and also just as you are getting used to being home with your baby all the time, getting back to work was like a distant memory.
So I work in the field of Corporate Communications and I absolutely love my job and I would call myself quite a “workaholic”, to me work meant giving it all. But slowly, this feeling was beginning to become a question in my mind, whether I would be able to join and do work like I did before, will my baby be taking more priority, the common fears any new mothers would undergo. By the time you find the answers, your maternity leave also comes to an end. The mere thought of waking up early, rushing to a job after being up all night with a crying baby seemed impossible. And to top it all, there’s the guilt: How can you spend so much time away from your new born?
However tough it would have been to make up your mind about your rejoining work, I knew I have to gear up to a bag full of mixed emotions, the guilt never will seem to leave you, no matter what, more so when you leave your baby in someone else’s care, it isn’t easy to cope up with the feelings. So, I went through all that but deep down, I knew I wanted to get back to work as I felt as a major part of me went missing one that made me feel incomplete. On one side, there is guilt, on the other side, the want to get back to your old life. It was time then, when I decided to take the plunge, today, when I look back, I am very happy to have made this decision to rejoin just five months post my pregnancy.
The first month into joining office, I had learnt it all, right from pumping the milk at home to ensure the nursing goes on perfectly without your physical presence. Half the battle is won, if you plan and store it according to the time your baby would need his/her required feed. Alternatively, if your office is closer to your home, you can go home and also feed your baby. Keeping a planner ready helps, which lists all that you need to ensure your baby is alright on a day to day basis. If you can monitor this list, then your remaining battle is also taken care. On days you think you have to absolutely be there for your baby, like your baby’s vaccination, checkups it’s alright to make your employer understand and go for it. At the same time, if your employer gives you work from home or flexible work timings, then you have it all set. There are also days, when it gets too much, when many a times, the thought of quitting your job comes to your mind, but don’t let that thought sink into you, instead fight it out as these feelings or phase is temporary.
I was fortunate for two things; firstly an understanding employer for having given me the complete flexibility to work as well as ensure I was given enough leaves to attend to my daughter. Secondly, I owe a huge thanks to my parents who look after my daughter when I come to work, so overall it’s wonderful to have a supporting family and a supportive work environment.
I think it’s also important to work out a plan if you have neither of these options, which is to reach out for external help, there are bountiful of day cares, play group which are absolutely safe, you can choose what works you and still pursue your career. It is also a great motivator to understand that by having a baby doesn’t mean you need to end your career, if you are willing to explore, you can find ways.
And, like they say, save the best for the last, an understanding spouse is also needed, who can share your responsibilities in bringing up a baby. The days when you really can’t afford to take a day off or for that matter, stay up late to take care of your child; if you have a supportive spouse, then you don’t have to really worry too much. Have a conversation and involve him as well in the things that you can think he can manage except of course nursing the baby J you can divide your tasks and not stress yourself. At the end of it all, working mom’s always feel guilty one way or other but remember, that your child is going to benefit only by seeing how successful you have been managing all at ease and being a happy mom. I knew I have to be a happy mom and my happiness gets amplified when I have a successful career. Similarly, many of you would also have something that will make you happy apart from donning the regular hats, there will be something more that you would want to do and achieve. Try to spend some time understanding what that would be and remember that, it will all work out if you put your time and efforts. If you have the DREAM in you, Make it WORK. You should learn to balance the act without taking too much on yourself and there’s nothing wrong in seeking for help. And I would like to end by saying, becoming a mother makes you feel that you can achieve anything, so to all those mothers who want to continue pursuing your passion, don’t let go!
Annapoorna K, Manager, Corporate Communications