“Mom, why do you go to office?” my 5 years old kid asked me one day while we were waiting for his school bus to arrive.
“Hmm…so that I can get toys for you.” I tried to keep it simple for his little intellect.
“Daddy also goes to office. He can bring toys. Why do YOU go?”
“Because…err…I want to bring MORE toys for you.”
“Mom, I don’t want to play with toys anymore. I want to play with you. Don’t go to office.”
All day long, his innocent entreaty kept running through my mind intensely. It was not the first time though that the thought ran across my mind. In fact I regularly find myself the victim of this guilt that I should be spending more time with my kid. I generally get engulfed in dilemma that should I pursue my career without any guilt or be a stay-at-home mom or MANAGE both? Shouldn’t I be mentally strong enough to opt for one option? I keep wandering and act quite indecisive sometimes. In order to assuage my fidgeted mind, I decided to explore some supportive policies available in my office, switching to part-time from a full-time job for examples. In part-time provision alone, I experimented with various combinations available, such as working for just half day for whole week or working only for 3 full days in a week.
Unfortunately, none of these endeavors could allow me to reap any benefit. The work culture of Indian companies, the city traffic, and the commute time anyway exhausted my remaining half-day. The half-day work hours, remained only on papers, were turned out to be full-day schedules. Top of the cherry of my anguish was the compromises with my salary, my promotion, and most importantly my “half-day” privileges also. I also went to an extent of giving up my job and stay-at-home anticipating that this would now allow me to cherish my time with my kid and family. In the beginning of this phase I was really relaxed. However gradually, the charm of this freedom started fading away. Once my kid was off to school and my husband to office, the sense of emptiness and worthlessness started overpowering me. Giving up my career also entailed a big toll on my professional dreams, passion, and ambitions.
So, after being at the sides of both sides of this conundrum, I realized that giving up your career, provided you are among the one who possess career ambitions, is not a solution at all. I realized that the peace is in finding the reconciliation between personal and professional worlds.
There could be many ways by which the work environment could be made more conducive for female employees. There is no doubt that today’s firms have been coming up with more and more women supportive policies, however more support in this regard would be welcome.
It’s already been a tried and tested formula that work-from-home culture improves the productivity and renders better work-life satisfaction not only among women employees but also among male employees. This is a win-win proposition to employers as well. In current hustling bustling life, this work method would save employee’s commute time and aid to their productivity.
Ability to work offline
If the company is not able to provide the work-from-home option due to reasonable circumstances, then there should be provision to work from home after offline hours. This might allow working mothers to leave from office earlier and login from home. This way, working mothers can allocate their time appropriately between looking after their kids in evening and then resume their work. Seeing their kids in sight would not distract women from their work, rather it would heighten their concentration on contrary. [That’s how mother instincts are!]
Babysitting facility in and out of office
Wouldn’t it be a great idea if I could put my kid with a babysitter, hired by the company itself, in my own office in case I need to stay little longer. Also, babysitters hired by the company would cast no doubt on the trust factors. Corporate firms could also provide a facility to help with the contacts of agencies which provide babysitting services. For women employees, babysitting and kid’s schooling are the higher priority concerns than the housing or any other provision.
Emergency transportation facilities for women employees
Companies could keep some transportation facilities for some emergency situations in case they need to rush to attend their kids. Although there are many transportation services available at disposal, but it would add to a greater relief to women employees if they know that they can avail company’s transportation in emergencies.
Have a conversation with your child
I’ve started talking with my kid occasionally to make him cognizant about my roles which requires me to be an employee as well. I know our kids’ delicate hearts might not be ready yet to understand the materialistic aspects of this world, but I am sure their growing wisdom would help them understand gradually.
In real life, I have not come across a perfect “balanced routine” yet, and I keep switching between different roles as the situation necessitates me to be. I am certain that you as a working mother must have gone through the predicament at some or the other time in your life. And you must have endeavored and unearthed plenty of routes to find a right track to look after your personal and professional lives. Share your experiences and feedback with your fellow women employees, employers so that we all together create an environment of empowered women.
Shweta Kumari Sharma
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