Since the entry of women into the work environment, the battle to strike a balance between work and family has raged, with some losses and many wins. One of the standard questions I get asked everyday is, “Mummy, are you going to work?” and when I answer in the affirmative, I get a swift reminder to come home in the evening, and not night. That of course, has no answer, as the spirits that control Lagos traffic are at work when we least expect.
The truth is being a parent in this day and time is a different ball game than it used to be, much different than when I was growing up. That is an obvious fact. I can still remember when my mother got herself a phone.
Apart from women not working at home, it is so much easier to bring work home nowadays with your smart phones, home computers and internet services available. So, you can be at home and not be present in the house.
I recall sometime ago when my husband complained that I was spending so much time on my phone. And you know what? He was right, but it was not a conscious decision…it just happened. I would be at home, but my mind was at work. I wanted to be attuned to whatever was happening, and not miss any email or gossip.
But you know what, there comes a time, when you need to switch off that phone and the internet, and breathe the air around you. You will be surprised at how much you see going wrong but did nothing about, because you kept getting sidetracked with your work, which is now on your phone.
Although I’m writing about this now, it is an area of my life that I still need to work on. So, this is for me as much as I would like you to read it too. I have worked outside my home for the last three years and it has made me realise that the quality of time that I spend with my kids matters a lot, so I’m still trying to find the balance. I guess it is an ongoing battle. The underlying factor for me is that, there is no distance between my kids and I at any point in time.
How do I achieve that? One of the ways I know for now is communication. Immediately, I come home from work, be it in the evening or night, and they are still awake, we talk about what happened while I was not there.
I hear all the gossip and stories, and deliberately try not to correct every action they took, or did not take, while I was not around, which I might feel was wrong. That is one fast way to stop the flow. For in their minds, they will be like, “Let’s not tell mummy, she will scold us.” I don’t want that, I want to hear all the stories, good and not so good.
While we are having that chat, we are cuddling too, especially with my last son, whom I call Sweetie. He is so sweet on me, he has a special connection to my feelings, and knows just when to come for a cuddle. On the other hand his sister, whom I call Sunshine will say her hello with a big smile, showing all her teeth. See why I call her Sunshine. A rub there, a peck on the cheeks, a pat on the head, shoulder, everyone gets touched and feel touched. I get my daily share of the touches a woman needs from them too. *Side eyes*
By the time, we are through with that, the next thing we are doing is starting dinner (and now, the older twins are learning to cook, seven is just the right age to start paying attention to mommy’s cooking, in my books) or if they have eaten, then it is for me to get something to eat while we continue our chat.
All of these, while we prepare for school the next day and any additional information that their teachers have asked them to pass along come out. Did I add that all my kids know how to put on my phone, go to the apps they like and forget about me? This is a good idea at times, but not all the time.
One of the reasons I see the erratic supply of electricity as a blessing sometimes is that, television is not available to provide distraction. When there is electricity supply, our communication is suspended while they watch.
Another way I find balance is helping them with home-work. If you really think about it, mothers are a child’s first teacher. Until recently, my kids would wait for me to get home before doing their home work, but now, they finish up before I get home, help their younger ones, and I check when I get back. When there is any difficulty, they just wait for me to get back. Although, I might not have dropped my bag before they start shoving school books in my face. But that is fine.
I know of the wife of a popular movie producer, who is also actively involved in her husband’s work. She said, it does not matter what time she gets home, she always makes sure she goes through her children’s school books, because, “They would have put them on my bed side table, for me to go through, and that works for us. When, there is need to do any correction, we do that in the morning, before school, that is if I don’t get back home before they have gone to bed.”
The idea is to find balance, because that is what this is all about really. Not losing your identity in the sea of motherhood. And not letting your guilty conscience make you over compensate by indulging your children. Quality over quantity anytime should be your mantra.
Meanwhile, you can use this recent study by Harvard Business School that attested to the fact that working mothers have more successful daughters and caring sons as a balm for your guilty conscience, if you still have any.
According to the study, daughters of working mothers are more likely to be employed outside the home, unlike those of mothers, who do not work outside the home and the effect trickles down to the sons too, as they show more empathy; having taken on their share of household chores and caring for other family members, while growing up. What an incentive to work.
There you have it. I would like to know how you find balance in your family/work life in the comments section.
Never forget, that you are stronger than you think 😉
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