Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Juggling Work and Kids

I came across this article by Gaby Hinsliff, who recently resigned from a high flying job as a political editor of the Observer Magazine to spend more time with her two year old son.

I think Gaby Hinsliff's article contains a lot of interesting observations and honest confessions from moms who try and juggle work and family. She writes that "survey after survey suggests a deep-seated, buried misery over the eternal battle between the two. Half of working mothers with children under 15 would stay at home full-time in an ideal world, according to a 2001 survey for the then Department for Education. Eight years on, this month's She magazine reports nearly three-quarters of its readers want to cut their hours. The journalist Cristina Odone's recent think-tank pamphlet, What Women Want, claimed if money were no object only 12% of mothers would work full-time. "

These survey results raise the question: if work truly makes mothers unhappy, what makes some of us do it?

And if the unhappiness of working mothers is well documented, Gaby confesses there is guilt, too, in giving up. She herself wonders if she has squandered the chances she has been given in trading her job title as "Political Editor" for the less glamourous title of "Homemaker". She asks herself, "Is this really what I was raised, educated and trained for?"

I have personally chosen the self-employed option so that I can continue working with more flexible hours after the babies came into my life. Since making this switch, I struggle from time to time when well-meaning relatives and friends ask questions and make passing remarks that go something like:

"Don't you think it is a waste? I mean, you graduated with a Masters degree and scholarship from XYZ University and you are throwing that all away to stay home and take care of the kids? Isn't it a waste?!?"

"I never expected you to do this (quit your job). I mean, you were always so driven!"

I usually am quite shocked by comments like this. I mean, it is not like I am staying home all day watching paint dry. While it is probably not intentional, such comments discredit the important work that moms do at home and reflect on how much value people place on outward success and achievement, particularly in the corporate world today.

Someone also commented to me recently that she felt that in comparison to work, "taking care of children does not bring immediate rewards". While I can see where she is coming from, I do feel that the daily rewards from staying home with your kids come in the form that you do not expect. The joy of hearing their laughter and sharing in their wonder and curiousity for the world around, for instance, is the best reward any mom can ask for.

It has been a year since I quit my full time job and the truth is, I have never been happier, more fulfilled and challenged doing what I am doing now. I feel blessed to have the opportunity of taking care of my kids while pursuing what I absolutely love doing with Pupsik Studio and Laissezfaire. While it has not been a bed of roses and I still struggle on a daily basis with time and juggling both responsibilities from home, at least I have much more flexibility doing what I love and do not have to negotiate with employers for part-time terms and benefits that I think I deserve.

I am not sure if I have found the right mix to balancing children and work and would love to hear how other moms are coping. Has anyone found or is working towards an “ideal” solution to this?


Gloria said...

i guess only mummies working from home will understand that tending the house, watching the kids and running the biz is no walk in the park. I am still looking for solutions to streamline tasks and outsoucing if possible.

Anonymous said...

I happened to read your post today while I was lost and searching for an answer to whether should I resign from a not glamourous job to be a stay home mum. I have a 3 yrs old girl. I've been truly unhappy about my work for the past 2 years plus. But I have been continuing doing it as I do not want to burden my hubby and wanting to provide more for my girl. Today, after so long, I am contemplating calling it quit but I am so uncertain about the future being a stay home mum. What can I do to make myself useful or worthy? I pray that God will give me the courage to take the first step out. Hopefully I would be like you, happier and more fulfilled after taking my first step. Thank you for your inspired post.

laissezfaire said...

Hi Gloria, agree with you there. I always thought I was quite good at multi-tasking but running the house, 2 babies and business really takes multi-tasking to its limits! =)

Hi Anon 9.26PM, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do hope you will be able to find the answer to your situation. Sometimes, it just takes time to do some soul searching and talking to people who you trust and know you well to find out what you should do. And like you say, the courage to take the first step to try...