By J. Mason
Online Career Tips Editor
Many things can be assumed about the working mother. She doesn’t devote enough time to her kids because she’s at work, or she takes off too much to care for her kids. It was well portrayed in the movie, I Don’t Know How Does She It, with Sarah Jessica Parker. I won’t go into the stigma’s attached to parenting when it comes to a man and a woman, but I will explain how YOU can make the arrangement work if you’re a working mom with kids in someone else’s care.
Never give yourself guilt over your decision. Some women, and men, choose to stay home with their children; for others it may not be an option. They sometimes seek part-time work to help supplement their income, and others choose to delegate their time solely to raising their kids. Every career mother has at one point or another pondered this option. As a career mother, you’re choosing to stay at work because you want to work, or you have to. This in no way titles you as a bad mother, just one with another set of responsibilities.
As a working mother myself I think it’s a great opportunity to work outside of the home. Having my child enrolled in a daycare allows him to interact with his peers and become more engaged with the world around him. I know he’s well cared for and loved during the day while I’m at work. I chose to continue working because I enjoy the interaction with other working adults, and my job is important to me. How I’ve made it work is through trial and error, and a few sleepless nights.
Have a good childcare provider
We want the best for our children, so ensure that by really doing your homework before deciding on placement. Pay close attention to the curriculum. They are never too young to start learning. If they have a sign language program for infants, and summer field trips for the older kids then great. Knowing they’ll be entertained, educated, and well cared for will relieve the stress you feel when dropping them off everyday.
Develop a realistic schedule
If your significant other is able to pitch in, have them help you with drop off’s at school, and alternate who puts the kids to bed. Some nights you need to catch up on work, and if you have someone to help you out all the better. Assign a couple nights a week to dedicate to unfinished work projects, so you don’t fall behind, and the remainder to time spent with your family. Make a visual schedule and post it in your kitchen, home office, as well as work office.Try to set up doctor’s appointments around important meetings, and also make time to attend events for your family. You can probably swap out your time if you offer to work late one night for the chance to leave work a couple of hours early.
Be transparent with your boss
Most managers will be understanding of your family commitment as long as you don’t use them as an excuse for not getting work done. If your boss has an open door policy don’t abuse it by treating them like a therapist. Save the venting for your friends, or a sympathetic co-worker in a similar situation.
Isolate family time from work time
If part of your routine with your kids is eating breakfast together, dinner, or a special bath time ritual, then don’t spoil it with work. Hide your smartphone and don’t boot up your computer. The last thing you’ll want is your kid hating your computer because they feel ignored whenever you’re on it. Avoid that by focusing solely on them, or if you have to explain to them what you do for a living and why you love it. That clarification may make them more understanding of the times you can’t ignore an email, but it will help them feel involved. At work, don’t dwell over a fit they may have had the night before; it will take over your day! Let it go and let work be work. Focus on your projects and move through your meetings sans baby chatter. If you don’t find a way to filter those thoughts you’ll find them taking over your day, and your work will suffer because of it.
The last bit of advice I’d like to stress is ignore the negativity. My least favorite question after maternity leave was, “Don’t you miss your son while you’re at work?” Of course I did, but it didn’t help having a stranger point it out to me. My response was yes, but I know they’re having a blast at school and I’m needed here at work. Returning to work was not for my sanity, but for my career. I feel fulfilled while I work and write, and I know my son benefits from this. You need to decide what works best for you, and if you’re feeling down about the time spent apart then use your paid time off. This is an employer benefit that’s there for vacation, sick time, and “mental health” days. Use it when you need it. Play hooky with your little one, as long as it’s not a big learning day at school, and get your quality time in.