This is probably the biggest dilemma most of the women face at some stage of their life, especially in India. It is a very difficult situation, given the Indian background where the moms are expected to take care of the kids, house and the elders of the house and the men are expected to be the bread winners of the house!
As a woman becomes a mother, her motherhood takes over the career essence she nurtures over the years and finally wins over everything else! It is good in one way as the mother knows the best for her baby and gets the much required rest also post-delivery. But then, is that all that she wants? Does everyone happily lives ever after nurturing the baby and the household? Not essentially!
I have personally supported women to quit their jobs at one stage of their life and then later to join back to the workforce too! It may seem ironical, but my basic motto is to follow one’s mind!
Quit the Job! (The 9 to 5 office job that is!!!)
If you so desire to stay back home and nurture the kid, please go ahead and quit the job. You can always get back into the workforce later when you are emotionally and professionally prepared for that. My only advice is please NEVER let anyone force that decision on you. The pros of staying home is that the baby gets good care and the mother gets ample rest, physically and mentally. It is a great way to relax and enjoy your me time with the baby. If you have more than one, the purpose doubles. You will get time to take care of both or all your children.
If you feel that you are wasting your time a lot, learn something, or look for some part-time or freelancing jobs that gives you the much needed flexibility. Learning is very important, especially if you plan to get back to the workforce once the baby is back in school. You can use that career-break period to upskill yourself and plan your restart perfectly.
Get back to work! (After the maternity leave!)
We Indians mostly have this tendency to extend the maternity leaves till we make up our mind to continue to work or to quit the job once for all. So if you don’t want to mess up your career for the baby, please make the most of your time spent with the baby and family at home. They say, it is the Quality time that matters more than the amount of time you spend with the family. It is true.
Again, my advice is to NEVER ever get back to work because you were forced to! You will never be able to concentrate on the work that way! Trust me, it does not work that way. A mother’s mind will take over your professional mindset and you will mess up your career big way. Be 100% convinced before you get back into the workforce or never do that!
Why do I say that? That’s because of my experience being a stay-at-home mom and a working mom!!!
I quit my job during my pregnancy as I already decided that I would quit it once my baby is born. I just had to quit a little early because of some personal matters. But then even after I got a couple of very good offers to join back with flexi-timings, I refused that because I would miss my baby and would be too worried even if I joined the office!!! That way, I would neither concentrate on my work, nor take care of my child. It will be an effort totally wasted!!!
I did keep my options open for a work from home type of job which did not realize back then. But I was fully convinced of my decision to stay home and take care of my baby and family matters.
Then, once he started his schooling, we started our business and I spent most of my time in our shop which was very tough initially. I used to get totally worried, sad and frustrated which gifted me a high blood pressure, though for a short while!!! I managed to get over the situation and adjusted to the situation soon and then onwards, things got better. Mind you, my mother and my husband would be home when I was not and that was the only reason I agreed to handle the business matters where I concentrated 100%.
It was not easy as our son would fall sick and get hospitalized often and we had to shift our focus totally to him as that’s something both of us never wanted to compromise on. It did affect the business badly but that was a risk we were ready to take!
Till one stage, I was under immense pressure trying to manage my son’s studies and the long hours at the store. At one point, I decided to quit that once for all and took up a freelancing job that let me stay home and work. Now this is quite gratifying. I have switched my career many times by now, some because of the situations and some by choice.
Right now I am quite happy to be a full time freelance writer, working from home. I am able to spend time with and for my son and family and also manage my career with a little extra effort. It is not easy I must say. If I spend 2 to 3 hours teaching my son, I would spend that much time extra for work late at night or early morning. I compromise my sleep but I am a happy soul.
I never aspired to be a career woman, though I wanted to be independent. Hence, I decided to stay home when I wanted and start working when I was ready. I changed my choice of career because I felt that would be the best considering what I ultimately wanted – to be independent, to keep working, and to manage my family better.
As I said earlier, It is all upto you to decide whether you want to work or to stay home to take care of your kid and family. If you have a supportive family who will take equal responsibility to take care of your kid, go ahead and nurture your career. If you don’t, adjust a little for the kids’ sake and invest your time and effort on your kid. It will definitely be more rewarding than any career or job. I personally do not vouch for sending very small kids to day care as I don’t find many of them safe. It can never replace the care and nurture you as a mom can give you kid. But then, it is a personal decision, best taken along with the family’s support.
An easier way to satisfy both sides of your mind is to find a flexible job, even if it is not your core capability or what you have been doing so far. Accept a job with lesser responsibility so that it gives you enough flexibility to manage both home and job easily.
Men Please Note
I have to add this special note to men whose kids’ mom is working. Please take good care of her. We women are tuned to worry about office and home equally and that takes a huge toll on our health mentally and physically. Physically more because of the homely chores and the baby care she gets into doing when at home and the office work too. Literally, she will be working double duty and always alert! So share the work at home, take care of your baby and homely matters too when you are home. It will help her relax a little. You can take turns managing the work-life balance. If your wife aspires to be a career woman, support her mentally and physically which will make sure you both get to spend quality time at work and at home happily.