Pro by day, mom by night

Pro by day, mom by night

It isn’t easy to simply just leave your little one with a caregiver while you pursue your newly rekindled passion for career. But it need not be all that hard either. A little bit of planning and getting used to is all it takes, says Mary Chelladurai from her experience.

“There is . . . nothing to suggest that mothering cannot be shared by several people.” - HR Schaffer

Mama, no. Please, mama. No,” begged my three year old, her eyes streaming with tears. She pleaded hopelessly. I held her tight as I took her into my arms. I tried to reassure her that the day care centre will be a pleasant place to be in. I kissed her goodbye, assuring her of my return. Yet the loud cries kept echoing in my ears.

I had taken a long break from work and had been home with my baby for the past three years. I had just begun to work on the second phase of my career. I had decided to take my career forward. I had a professional degree. I wanted to be intellectually stimulated. At this point my child was entering into the threshold of a regular school. I, being a very energetic and an enthusiastic person, did not want to while away my time being at home. The feeling of boredom would bring in frustration and quite frankly, an “inferior” thought of finding myself wasteful. The other compelling reason I had was that I wanted to raise the standard of living of my family. One salary is rarely sufficient these days.

But I didn’t decide that without dwelling about the impact it would have on my little one. I looked-up help and found many studies that showed children whose mothers enjoy their work and remained committed to parenting show favourable traits. Such kids often have higher self-esteem, more positive family and peer relations, less gender-stereotyped behaviour, and even better grades at school.

So, having enough and more favourable reasons to return to work, I began to update my resume, sent it out, gave interviews and landed myself a plush job. This was certainly exciting. Yet I worried that I may not be able to manage it all smoothly - work, household chores, cooking, and getting my little one up and ready for school. I definitely needed help from a maid. The home essentials that need attention once a mother resumes work are aplenty and seeking a maid’s help is a nothing short of blessing!

The parting n Sending your child to day-care centre need not be the last option. In fact, it should be your first option! A day care centre will expose your child to his/her peers and also help him/her learn several new things.

* Request for your spouse’s assistance. So far as you were home, you did all the chores. But now with little time and limited energy, it is advisable to prepare your spouse to chip in to take care of the little one as well as giving a hand in the chores.

* If your child is back from the day-care and you won’t be home, you could consider leaving him/her with her grandparents. This way, the child gets to bond with his/her grandparents after coming back from the day-care. But just ensure the grandparents have a care-giver or maid around when your child is with them. They are not getting any younger, and as much as they would love to have their grandchild around, they too need some help.

* If you can afford it, you could consider having a live-in maid with you. That way, every single errand is taken care of without a problem. Just ensure you hire a very trustworthy person, preferably someone you have known for years. You can then peacefully leave or work everyday.

* If you are finding it hard to part with your child, you could consider working for a company that allows work-from-home option. But make sure you don’t get too used to that. Because a career is not just about supplementing the family income; it defines your identity in more ways than one. So you could work from home for a month or two and then slowly leave your child with your maid. By then, both you and your child would have bonded well enough with your maid.

[Note: Any time you leave your child with the caregiver, no matter how brief, make sure the person has the following information:

* Where you can be reached

* Mobile and landline numbers of responsible friends/relatives/neighbours who can be called if you are unreachable

* Details about house – how to switch the geyser on / off (if she is expected to use it ), how to use lifts (if she takes the child out in evenings), how to lock and open doors, use washing machine, dish washer, and the likes.]

The day-care hunting

Make a quick study of the various day care centres, keeping the following points in mind:
* See whether the centre is spacious, airy, clean, and safe.

* Speak to the parents who have enrolled their children in the centre you are looking at.

* Find out whether a parent is allowed to peep in at any time of the day to look at their little one.

* Distance of the crèche is a big factor, given that you will be time poor. See how far the crèche is from your home and how long your child should commute.

* Also note the quality of care-givers engaged, and the ratio of care-givers to children. The ideal ratio would be one care-giver for ever five children. See whether the care-givers are consistent. Look at their back-ground whether they are at least minimally trained to handle little children.

* Look for the activities planned for children. See how these activities enhance the cognitive skills of your child and study the methodology used in delivering them.
On the work front

In many cases it might take a little time to find jobs suited to your present abilities.

* A month or two of training to refresh yourself technically will be a diligent idea.

* Look for a job that truly matches your interest and abilities. Do not rush to take up anything which comes first. 

* Understand that you cannot aspire for a big role, or the role you were engaged in before you took your brake.

* Being a mother brings in a lot of plus points to your work place. A mother brings with her the qualities of patience, multi-tasking, resilience, thinking on her feet, time
management, creativity, and attention to detail. These are qualities that could benefit any position that you take up in life.

* While at work concentrate on work and while at home give your best to your child. Never bring home work and never take home worries to office.

Well, as much as I can give a few pointers from my own experience, it is really your own experience that counts. You won’t know what it is like to be a mother unless you are one, and you won’t know what it is like to have a career after being a mother, unless you get back to it. As Eleanor Roosevelt put it, “Women are like tea bags, they don’t know how strong they are until they get into hot water”. 

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