This article was originally published on YourStory.
I wrote a few paragraphs of this article between helping my daughter scan and submit her exam paper and heating lunch. I did a few Teams calls between collecting a parcel from the security guard and checking my son’s homework.
Balancing the demands of work and kids is no less than a juggling glass. As Kelly Price once said, “It is like juggling with broken glass because both things are very sensitive and have to be handled with care. I can’t let the career be neglected, and I can’t let my family and children be neglected either.”
While working mothers have been known to do the balancing act, the pandemic threw that delicately maintained balance totally out of gear. Overnight our access to our support system — family living close by, maids, drivers, neighbourhood friends etc., vanished. Kids’ need for attention, being confined to the home all day, and schooling from home, only added to the woes!
Double the juggle it is, but mastering it is important. It requires a change in perspective and practice, but it can be deeply rewarding too.
As a mother of two running a startup, here are a few changes I’ve adopted that has made the juggle easier while working from home:
Tech to our rescue
Earlier we were transitioning between home to work and work to home. Now, there are multiple switches — work, organise lunch, work, play with child, work, study with child, clean and repeat.
Each transition adds to the mental fatigue. Leveraging tech to optimise your time and make the day easier is the only way out.
Digitising everything, setting alerts and alarms for every little chore or activity, creating detailed shared calendars with colour codes and meal plans help put a method to the madness. Be it the selling-like-hotcakes dishwashers, floor cleaning robots, home delivery apps, time tracking apps, technology is a working mom’s only rescue.
Friendly is the new policy
While there was some flexibility available to working moms to help achieve work-life balance, or work-life integration as it’s called these days, it was far from reality in practice. Many organisations only had empty policies. Requests to pick up kids from school or needing to make up for a maid’s absence were accepted, but often with a frown.
Now organisations are rethinking their approach to family-friendly policies. They’re now fostering an environment where women have genuine flexibility to take care of themselves, their families, pets and still be looked upon as productive.
The guilt or feeling that one’s dedication to work is being questioned just because you had to leave in the middle of the day to attend a preschool event is no longer there. Mothers of children with special needs can now find more acceptance and opportunities to work from inside home.
Imperfection is the new perfection
Most of us are particular (and even stressed) about keeping our homes and our own appearances prim and proper. Blame it on the movies which show perfect homes with perfect women waking up with their make-up and hairdos intact.
We’re now more relaxed about kids and pets jumping around in the background and more comfortable in our skin, looking our natural best. Looking fresh, neat and clean is enough to appear presentable sans make-up and long-hours spent on dressing up.
Here’s to openly embracing the fact that working moms aka supermoms are human too, with their challenges and flaws as everyone else.
This International Women’s Day, let’s raise a toast to every working mother for mastering the juggle with elegance, effectiveness and energy!