I am working in an MNC for over 15 years now and am amazed at how my children support and understand my work schedules. While they have seen me working as they grow, in spite of being so young they understand the work pressures and commitments. My kids are 10 and six years old. I am proud that my children support me. Here is my story:
“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence,” said Denis Waitley. We don’t have an elderly staying with us and my husband also keeps travelling and has long working hours. Perhaps this is the situation many of us face today living in nuclear families. While we do have domestic help and daycare for our rescue, but in the end, it is your family who needs to support and understand you.
This is perhaps, one of the greatest learning which we got from the pandemic, that when there are no or limited resources available, all members in the family need to step up and ensure well being and happiness of each other.
I am sharing some of the tips and my real-life experiences, wherein I try to strike a work-life balance and focus on more “quality” time with my children than “quantity” and how in turn they understand me, and my work needs and help me bring my best at work, just every day!
Experience # 1: Ownership
One of the best ways to teach your children about responsibility is to model the behaviour for them. Look out for friends and neighbours, make them participate in any volunteering program in your community, and ensure they are dependable and take ownership of the work assigned to them.
My children always participate in any event or opportunity that comes their way. Earlier I used to push them or encourage them to take up, now on their own, willingly participate.
The sense of responsibility and ownership of the task given to them has resulted in them completing all their assignments on time with minimal guidance from my end. This helps me concentrate on my work and other priorities. My elder one guides my younger one in sports, studies and so on and together they learn from each other.
During the lockdown, each one of them took responsibility and fulfilled it without any delays, elder one used to fill all water bottles, arrange utensils, while the younger one took the onus of sweeping the house.
Experience # 2: Importance of “Time”
Even on weekends, all of us have a habit to get up early and following a routine. Weekends do not only mean to relax but to spend with a purpose. While we all watch TV and movies together over weekends, we do ensure we read or play musical instruments together too. Thus, I always try to teach the value of time and even in their idle time tell them to focus on other things if not academics.
Today, they themselves prefer playing sports and outdoors and watching gadgets for a restricted time. Slowly and eventually, they are also learning if we don’t value time, time will also not value us.
They also help me with household chores and understand that keeping the house neat and organised is the responsibility of every family member. They would always keep their books and toys in place and even at home follow certain protocols.
Since they keep all their belongings at their respective places and understand the value of time it saves a lot of time for me to again work on my hobbies and priorities and I don’t recall a single day when they were late for school or me for my office.
Experience # 3: Care & Compassion
While we all have bad days and at times, I would lose my temper, or they behave irrational; I admit when I am wrong and apologize for mistakes. If your children see you doing these things, they are much more likely to do the same.
As a ground rule, they always address domestic help or any of our social workers as “Didi” and in no way they would misbehave with them. They also understand the joy of giving now and happily donate their toys and clothes periodically.
Experience # 4: Earn your own reward
I never believe in giving them gifts on their birthdays, I ask them to earn rewards for themselves, and how do they earn? Well, I see the honest efforts they put for their exams or if I see them helping someone in need or if I see them taking care of each other while I am at work or proactively helping or anything which makes me realise they have given an honest effort for it.
I never reward them for results or any outcome, I reward them or celebrate after they have finished doing the task. I don’t create pressure. Therefore, I have never seen them asking me anything unreasonable. Thus, their attribute of being content helps me in many ways as I need not entertain their “tantrums”.
Today, my children not only help me in doing my work well in the office but to pursue my hobbies too. They give brilliant ideas to how we can improve and like a team we all work and achieve our goals.
Obviously, they are children and would make mistakes, but how you react to it and explain makes a difference. I sometimes share with them that it is difficult to manage both house and work. Communication is the key, sometimes as working mothers, we take everything on ourselves. So, try to make people around understand your hardships and seek help.
In the words of Shonda Rhimes, “If I’m pursuing my goals, my kids are seeing me at my best. I am filled up, I am happy, I am not feeling empty, depleted, and therefore resentful about the fact that I’m missing out. I don’t want them to feel like I’ve sacrificed, I don’t want them to feel that burden. I always remember that a happy working woman is a happy mother.”
The views expressed are the author’s own.