The African traditions dictate that the place for a woman is in the kitchen, she is supposed to stay at home with the children and take care of the kids and the husband. Her role at home is well defined as she is married to bear children for her husband. The husband goes out to hunt or work to bring food at home; he is supposed to provide all the families’ needs and provide security too. The home, the children and the wife are part of the man’s wealth and property.
Today, life has changed and we no longer consider this as part of what a family should be; sharing responsibilities between the partners has been the order of the day. Men want to have a companion who is bringing in an extra coin in the house. With lifestyles to maintain, high cost of living, life has turned out to be difficult and that is why it is impossible to over burden one partner with the responsibility of earning income. Women are no longer seen as objects of convenience; they are educated and have important positions in the society.
The modern woman is a wife, an employee and at the same time a mother. The duties and responsibilities are too many and she has to find ways to balance work and motherhood while finding time for herself. This requires a strategy so as to accomplish these duties and still stand tall at the end of the day. Start by prioritizing your duties so that you have a good list of what to start with and what to end with. There are 4 ways to manage whatever work you have:
1. You can do the work if you have the ability and time to do so.
2. You can delegate the work to another person who can manage it; your husband, househelp or elder children.
3. You can dump the work if you feel it is not very important.
4. You can defer the work to another day if it is not possible to manage it at that particular time.
When it is time to work and you are in the office, concentrate on the office work and don’t start thinking what you left at home. Separate job responsibilities with home duties, write a list of what you need to accomplish at work that day in the morning and see that all is done on time. When you get home do the same, you need to put down what you are supposed to do that day and work towards that. Avoid carrying office work home, this will ensure you have time to prepare dinner, help children do homework, discuss your day with your partner etc. Consider spending time with your family as they assist you with some duties and that way everyone goes to sleep happy and not exhausted.
Get a house help to assist you in babysitting and other house chores or take your baby to a daycare so as to give you time for yourself and also spend time with your partner alone without the kids. During the weekend, spend as much time as possible with the kids since you have not been available during the week; go with them to the market, the salon, visit your relatives together etc. This enables you to focus on your work during the week and the family at the weekend. It is important for you to spend enough time with your kids so as to know what is going on in their lives especially if they are under the care of a house help for most of the day.
When you get disrupted by assignments that require you to work late, have to go for office functions and cocktails; it is good to prepare in advance. Inform your house help so that she does not get overwhelmed and delegate some of the duties that you do. The house help can prepare dinner, check the kids’ homework and take them to bed. Let her know if there is any routine that you follow with the kids so that she can do the same e.g. have dinner, drink milk, brush teeth, read a bedtime story etc. Do not let yourself feel guilty for leaving the kids for an evening since this reduces your efficiency. If you are worried and stressed, you will not finish that assignment in time, you will not have a chance to pitch yourself to the CEO at the cocktail and you end up wasting time worrying! The best thing is to have constant communication with the househelp at home just to check if everything is going on well, invest in a mobile phone for this and you will also get a chance to say goodnight to your little ones.
Explain to your children what they need to expect from you every day; this is because some children will expect to see their mothers every other moment. Let them know you go to work so that you can earn money to buy him a new bike, buy him chocolate and ice-cream. Make them understand that even when they grow up and have families they will go to work so that they can provide. Assure them that you will have time with them over the weekend and keep to your word (don’t excite children to the prospect of spending time with you then leave them high and dry when the day comes!)
Balance is the key to juggling motherhood and work, always ensure your life is balanced. There will be times when your work will be overwhelming and you feel like your children are getting a raw deal…..then it is time to slow down; take a break, go on leave even for a week, the company will not collapse without you! Talk to your boss and let them know about events in advance and that way, they can grant you the day off to attend a parents day or sports day. Just as you would not like to miss the company end of year party….make school functions a ‘must attend’.