An Year of Being a Working Mum- A Reflection on the Year it's been

29 January 2021



23 Oct 2020- Today I complete a year of working after becoming a mother. How does it feel? Surreal! And like every parent feels-The time just flew by!

Starting from just 2 hours a day in October 2019, gradually increasing it to 4, then 6 and then the full 8 hours by March 2020. Actually make it 9.5-10 hours a day out of home because city life, traffic n all.

Do I like going to work? Yes

Do I wish I was home with my kid Aiza? Yes

The great dilemma of parenthood. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way I could be doing both at the same time so I shall be found toiling at work instead of home for a very long time.

I’m a Forensic biologist and I do love my job. It’s mundane most days but it’s still packed full of learning. So much to learn there..it is my kind of work. It fulfils me. And I'm quite proud that I do work that serves some greater good in society.
However, my role at home is equally important. To my daughter, I am the world. I am the source of her knowledge. The 2 hours or less of awake time that I get with her during a weekday are never enough. They are consumed by chores like dinner, bathing, etc. The best time of my weekday is the last few minutes before she is to sleep. Our one on one reading and chat time. Her questions are never-ending but unfortunately, we can't talk all night. It's mamma's workday tomorrow Aiza. We gotta sleep now. 

Hence I live for the weekends. My time with her. Tell her Saturday is coming and she will light up. We both love that day with a passion.

Will I keep working full time? Yes. The financial certainty it gives me is unmatched. A decade or two of boundless energy that I have in me...I want to use it to my advantage for the future health, wellbeing and financial security of our family. This opportunity to collect a regular paycheck and then be able to save and invest that money is what motivates me. The list of my financial goals is very long and there is no way I can tick anything off that list without this full-time job. 
I and husband earn almost the same. We are equal partners in everything. Our finances and bank accounts are joint. We've always respected each other's money and never wasted any of it. And still being on maternity leave sucked. I actually started feeling a bit inferior to him. Money does bring in some respect with it. I missed getting my own pay check. My share in the household expenses. I didn't enjoy being a spender. I longed to be an earner again. My mental health and self-confidence started to dwindle. I missed a routine and structure in my day too. I don't want to be in that position again. I don't want us to play the 'this or that' choosing game at the supermarket. I want to be able to afford the occasional treat. One pay check and a mortgage didn't leave room for much else. I'm a mum, yes but I'm also a human that functions best when my needs are met. So yes job is vital for my physical and mental well being.

How do I balance work and home? Balance is an illusion. It’s a lofty goal. My take on this is that there are things that are a priority and then there are things that can be pushed back. It’s all about what matters to me the most. There will always be sacrifices and trade-offs. Money doesn’t come easy. Time is the most precious asset. As long as I’m intentional with how and where I spend both my time and money, I’m doing good. I wouldn’t waste a penny of this money for it comes at the cost of the time I could have spent with my daughter. This mindset quashes any thought of mindless spending or impulse purchases. 

How do I do it all by myself? I don’t. It takes a village. It truly does. Those two precious hours with Aiza after work are spent on her chores and not household chores like laundry/dinner. The goal is to spend as much time as I can with her once I'm home from work. Majority of those pesky household chores are taken care of by family (husband and MIL). I wouldn’t be as sane if it wasn’t for the help I get. I admit I’m still the worst person when asking for help. It kills me to ask someone to do something for me. I still do most of the food prep and my own chores. As much as I humanely can. But I’m getting better at asking for help. Getting better at delegating and getting better at saying no to commitments, especially on the weekends. I guard my time like a hawk. It is my most precious asset. Whenever we are invited to any social outing, I ask myself - What is my ROI (Return on Investment) in this transaction/evening out? Am I gaining any money? Time with my daughter? Any bonding with family? If it doesn’t serve any of these purposes, I’m sorry it’s a no. And for that, I’m not ashamed. Rather proud. 

Do I wish I could stay home with my child? I do. I really do. Watching her learn new things each day, teach her new things, giving her the freedom to be herself when she is around me. I long for that. I fear she isn't getting a chance to exert her independence while I'm away from home. But I have to admit the days I am home with her full-time, those days are very demanding, consuming and draining. Rewarding? Yes very much so. But they tire me out. So I actually enjoy going out to work. Getting to have 2 meals uninterrupted, in peace. Going to toilet alone. Bliss! 

Is there anything I dislike about working? As much as I like going out of the house to work, I hate pumping breastmilk. Manually now because I lack the time in the mornings to just sit and wait for the pump to do its thing. (Haaka manual pump is my ride or die). A precious half an hour to 40 minutes spent every morning trying to squeeze every last drop of liquid gold from my milk ducts. I can't wait for her to wean off that milk. I'm ok with physical breastfeeding but just not the pumping. That's exhausting. 

How do I envision my future work situation? I'm working hard and side-hustling now so in future I can afford to reduce my hours at work. That is my big fat scary goal that I've been working on since past year. The goal is to get to that comfortable position where I can go part-time. That day is still a decade or so away but I am working towards it and that's all that matters. 
 
Working moms, how do maintain that elusive balance? What systems do you have in place?

Non-Working mums, you are legends. I wish I could be you. This post is in no way glorifying a segment of mothers. We are all badass and we all give it our all each and every day. I know that for a fact.

Love
Nishu

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