Not without My Baby

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If you’re a working mum, you walk a personal versus professional tightrope every day. Neeti Jaychander gets some expert advice on how to keep your sanity through it all

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CHOOSE A FLEXIBLE JOB

Keep your mind open about new career opportunities. If you’re in advertising or events, you could look at teaching once your child starts going to school, so that your work hours match his or hers. For mums with very young kids, working from home gives you the opportunity to be at home, taking care of your child and working
between feedings and nappy changes—you can pursue your profession simultaneously.

PRO TIP

If you are running out of flexible career options, Flexi Careers is an organisation you can look up that pr ovides solutions to ensure that organisations look at you as a long-term investment. The parent company Avtar also provides opportunities for specialised categories, such as for women who have only five years of service left before retirement, those who have taken a br eak for 10 years to be stay-at-home mums, those and so on.

DOS & DON’TS

Do: When you accept that everything can’t be planned with a child around, you’re better equipped to avoid frustration. Learn to take the unexpected in your stride, and instead of focusing on the plans you’d laid down, focus on figuring out new ones instead.

Don’t: It’s not uncommon to feel guilty when your child is with another caregiver. But remember: you’ve chosen to pursue a career for reasons such as personal or financial satisfaction. Without it, you wouldn’t be as happy a person or a mum.

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FIND SUPPORT

If you’re planning to get back to work full-time, you’ll need the support of your near and dear ones years. Grandparents are usually the best bet, as are close friends with babies of around the same age. You can take turns babysitting, depending on your work hours. This also doubles as a play date for your child.

PRO TIP

Varsha Reddy, who works long hours in the hospitality industry, didn’t want to quit her job, but also didn’t want to leave her six-month-old son with a nanny thr oughout. “Luckily, my husband has his own business, so he’s able to take the baby to work whenever needed. But there are times when he’s unavailable as well—so for the
time being, my parents have relocated from Hyderabad. Since they’re retired, they were willing to make the move for thr ee years until my baby starts school. When I’m at home, though, I’m a hands on mother; I read to him, play with him, put him to bed…I don’t get enough time to myself certainly, but that’s a choice I’m happy to
make for now.”

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DIVIDE AND RULE

Don’t take on the lion’s share of the burden. Make it clear to your partner that he has to pitch in responsibilities of running the home. Sit together and agree on a set of responsibilities for each of you so that both of you get to spend quality time with your little one, and with each other.

PRO TIP

Planner apps can help both of you stay on track. ‘Remember the Milk’ helps new mums and dads organise household chores and grocery lists, sets deadlines, prioritises tasks and plans the best way to complete them.
‘iRewardChart’ helps parents with very young kids by teaching them how to keep track of their own chores and rewards them accordingly. ‘Momento’ is another popular app that helps store memories and musings, and organises it along a neat timeline. Sites like Workitmom.com offer tips, advice and time-saving tricks that have been tried and tested.

Phrases you mustn’t use when talking to working mums

You’re so lucky to work from home. But why do you need a nanny?
First of all, it’s none of your business. Secondly, even at home, a working mum is still working. While she’s around for emergencies, or when the child needs something that only she can provide, for basic day-today
chores, she needs help.

Do you really have to work?
Would you ask a man this? We don’t think so. Yes, a working mum really has to work. Maybe she needs the
money. Maybe she needs to work for her own sense of self-satisfaction. Or maybe she needs to focus on her
dreams, and set an example for her child that mums and dads are both entitled to go to work.

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KEEP TRACK

While everything may not go according to plan with your little one, lack of organisation will just make thee the chaos worse! Small things like cutting and chopping veggies in advance for the next day’s cooking or following an online schedule for buying groceries rather than rushing to the store each time could save you a lot of stress and heartache.

PRO TIP

Akhila Krishnamurthy, founder of the performing arts company Aalaap says, “Quality is key and time management is imperative. I work in a way that I am at home as much as possible so that when work is light and WhatsApp isn’ t interrupting, I can quickly play peek-a-boo with my child. I will never find that magic balance, but learning and trying are important.”

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BEFRIEND OTHER MUMS

Sometimes, it seems like you’re falling behind other supermums who are managing all of it with time to spare. Not true! Get to know other working mums, who will be able to understand and empathise with your issues. Start a WhatsApp group and follow it up with a fortnightly meeting over lunch or tea, where you can have a heartto- heart and even share common tips.

PRO TIP

Akhila Krishnamurthy, founder of the performing arts company Aalaap says, “Quality is key and time management is imperative. I work in a way that I am at home as much as possible so that when work is light and WhatsApp isn’ t interrupting, I can quickly play peek-a-boo with my child. I will never find that magic balance,
but learning and trying are important.”

GOODBYE GUILT

Counsellor and psychiatrist Araan Krishna puts things in perspective: “The most important thing that mums should focus on is being happy. Remember, a happy mum makes for a happy child. If working gives them joy, then there will be fewer feelings of resentment towards the rest of the family. Focus on quality rather than quantity. Make every minute count. Tell your kids that you love them unconditionally, but work is important too. Most kids today are quite understanding of this. Take a short vacation whenever you can to strengthen your bond with them. Set down some ground rules at work too. Tell them you will work hard when you can, but would like time off for the odd-PTA meeting, or when your child needs to be rushed to the doctor. Don’t take on more than you can chew, and be a super-achiever.”

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