Parenting and Work from home: Ask any full-time working mother, and she’ll tell you about the days when she is ready to give it all up because it is becomes impossible to strike a balance between job and parenting duties. The pandemic has somehow made this dilemma worse. There are women who dread sitting down to work every day because that means shifting focus from their children for a big chunk of time and there are moms who quit work altogether because they simply cannot bear the thought of doing so.
Women who do manage to find reliable support to care for their young ones, how does society treat them? By constantly making them feeling self-centred and guilty or labelling them as workaholic. Why must women, or even men, have to choose between work and parenting duties? Since both are an inseparable and crucial part of our existence, can’t employers and our society find a way to ensure that parents don’t have to sacrifice work opportunities or risk being unavailable to their children? Or that parenting isn’t reduced to a gendered duty, because who will take care of the baby?
A multinational food and beverage company announced recently that it will reimburse the bills for in-house nannies that employees had to use due to the pandemic while working from home. What’s more, the reimbursement can be availed by employees who became parents via adoption and surrogacy as well. The policy is for employees with children within the age group of six months to four years.
The move is commendable, considering how the closure of creches and schools during the pandemic made it difficult for parents to juggle work and parenting duties. Let us face it, the pandemic is far from over, and even when see the back of it, many employers may prefer to stick with the work-from-home setup. Where does that leave working parents, especially moms, who largely shoulder household chores and parenting duties in India?
Since work from home offers flexible work timings, it often ends up burdening women with extra duties at home, stretching their day at both fronts. Having access to nannies can make life so much easier for parents, and ensure that moms and dads do not draw lines based on gender and social stereotypes when it comes to parenting duties. They can both stick around, tap in and tap out based on their schedule, while the nanny takes hours worth of child care off their hands.
Access to in-house nannies also means that new mothers do not have to deal with the misplaced guilt of having to leave their baby behind. However, not everyone is privileged enough to be able to afford helping hands for child care.
Often the decision comes down to this- will we end up spending more than the secondary earner (which is women in most households) earns? If yes, then is it worth it? Sadly, work only finds validation in our society when it earns you a fat pay-check. Words like passion, skill, talent, pathbreaking work take a backseat when couples have to makes tough choices based on the monthly balance sheet.
No matter how supportive partners are towards each others career, parenting always needs more hands than you have, in total. You could always use an extra pair. And that’s where companies can step in. If our homes have to transform into offices, there is no way that can happen without a designated play area for children. One can only hope that employers worldwide understand this and come up with more solutions like reimbursing in-house nanny expenses so that employees can work guilt-free and happily.
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