Motherhood penalty? Heard of it? Lived through it? Apparently it is the loss new mothers encounter at the workplace for the time off with their little ones in the form of reduced earnings, trainings or promotions. But to what extent does this balance off with the social gains one makes for being a mother?
From my limited experience with working mothers, the most challenging thing most of them share is the lack of work-family balance and the guilt that usually comes with it. To succeed in motherhood and career building requires massive time investments. But your time is finite.
It thus becomes a delicate balancing act to achieve optimal success as a mother and a career person. It is not just being a biological mother who hands over the baby to house helps but also a nurturer, spending sufficient time with the baby. On the same beat, it is also not just about being a professional who just shows up in the office waiting for the clock to tick you home and bring with it a paycheck. It is about innovative engagements and problem solving initiatives. Achieving these two is simple said than done. But it is worthy the trial, precisely because the satisfaction of bringing up a family while being economically independent is the ultimate measure of success.
Securing a reliable support system around you in both the workplace and family-space is vital. This allows you to give your best – while at home, you can give full attention to your family and while at the workplace, you can execute your duties diligently. Try not to bring your work home or family related issues to the office.
As with all social balances, be smart – look for ways around the workplace which can give you more time with your family. For example, negotiate with your office to have a day off by working extra hours for the remaining days, or take calls in the traffic instead of at home, cook over the weekend, dedicate a family time every week, etc.
Every decision comes with an associated opportunity cost and you can not avoid making a choice between the two mutually exclusive alternatives.
However, don’t feel guilty for dedicating time to something you value. Motherhood should be recognized as an achievement in life not a setback on your career.
This first appeared on The Standard on February 26, 2017