Career and Children

 

There is an old South American expression that goes thus: “Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Unfortunately, today’s overworked moms have plenty of expectations heaped on them. As a result, they are stressed, overloaded with guilt and stretch themselves to keep their families together.

The thing to do, at times like these, is take heart. A new baby certainly does not mean the end of your career. But many young couples perceive a baby as a threat to career advancement and prefer to say a loud “no, thank you” to parenthood. Others succumb to the fantasies attached to a gurgling, cooing seven-pounder and believe that this is the life, until they are rudely shaken by colic

bawls and monthly vaccines.

How will a baby impact your career graph? How will your family dynamics accommodate the new member? What happens to your life after a baby? Will you be a happy stay-home mom? Or are you itching to get behind your desk? Many couples start to debate these issues either when the wife is well into her pregnancy, or after the baby arrives. The best time to voice concerns, apprehensions and opinions is when you are on the threshold of conception. That way, you and your spouse have a chance to arrive at an understanding and decide to seek family counsel, if necessary, or talk to friends who already have some experience dealing with these issues.

 

Baby or Double Income?

Assess your priorities. Is your income essential to the household or is it additional money for a pleasure trip, a microwave and a funky wardrobe? In case your income is indispensable to the house, consider whether or not it would be prudent to cut back for a couple of years.

Stay-home Mom?

If you are the sort who needs to get to an office, meet people and do something more challenging than teach your child the alphabet, you need to rethink your options. Be aware of your needs and priorities, because putting them on the backburner for the sake of your child will only make you a dissatisfied mom. If you sacrifice your career at the altar of motherhood, you could turn into a morose, miserable creature. This will neither do your child, nor you any good.

Playing Juggler

Can you juggle the demands of a job and a growing baby without letting stress levels escalate? Will you have the energy to give your child quality time when you walk in through the front door after a rough day at work? You cannot expect your two-year-old to leave you alone when you have been away from him/her for the past 10 hours. Your baby will demand attention and will be all over you with questions and observations.

Supportive Spouse

The issue of sharing household duties assumes special significance if you are a nuclear family. Is your spouse the sort to pitch in with bottle-washing and folding the day’s laundry?

If motherhood and your career are on a collision course, do not assume the shutters are down on your working life forever. Consider the following options:

 

Web designing: A course will give you the skills to take on design jobs that can be executed from the comfort of your home. You may start small, but you can expand as you go along.

Starting a magazine: If you have always been fascinated with the written word, maybe it is time to draw on a hidden talent. You could start by putting out a magazine for the neighbourhood on a pet topic. It would be fun to research and create something; it will also give you an opportunity to network.

Catering: Many moms are going back to basics, like baking or taking party orders for full-fledged meals. For starters, you could begin with cakes and cookies, executive meals for a few offices, or low-calorie meals for fitness buffs. It will keep you busy, bring in some welcome cash and help you meet people.

Conducting classes: Do you have a specific skill that has been dormant for years? Painting? Jewellery designing? Advertise your services. It could be a fun way to spend a couple of hours each day teaching what you enjoy.

Voluntary work: If none of the above suits you, you might consider voluntary work of some sort. Reading books to the blind, listening to the elderly at an old-age home, cuddling abandoned newborns at an orphanage. In a world driven by commercialism, people are always looking for those who can offer their services without expecting anything more than a grateful smile as a reward.