“To do or not to do….” is a dilemma that almost every modern, aware, sensible and educated woman faces everyday when she is juggling her duties towards her profession, children, husband, kitchen and other household chores. At times she feels the strong desire to be a career woman, gain appreciation for her work and revel in the impact she makes in the professional world, while at other times she feels a compelling need to simply stay at home and cook nice food for her children and husband.
Financial pressures, commitment to work and aspiration for higher standards of living will require that she works. It is not only apt, but it is also extremely important that she works for her self esteem, financial freedom and self worth. Of course while doing so there are many questions that she needs to answer and issues to address. For example, she needs to take care of her own emotions, the guilt that she carries with her when she keeps the child with a maid, or sometime stay away from the child for long hours by keeping the child at a Daycare.
As an owner of a chain of child care centres in Nagpur, a doting mother of two kids and a soon-to-be psychologist, I come across several working mothers who are carrying a load of guilt within them inspite of spending the day working hard, trying to make things work. Guilt being a negative emotion, it makes the working mother think and respond in a non-productive way and she starts compensating by pampering the child in an unreasonable manner. She finds it hard to discipline the child as she is with the child for only a few waking hours. She usually accepts the tantrums thrown by the child and tries to compensate by not doing the primary job of a mother, i.e. disciplining the child and teaching good behaviour. In fact, child being away from parent does not cause so much harm, over pampering does! I often advise a working mother to tell the child about her work, about what she is doing for the family and about the hard earned lifestyle that she is trying to provide. Communication with the child will help her address many issues, even if the child is very small. After long hours of separation, the child needs the company of his/her mother, which the mother should give with full honesty and avoid the urge to keep an eye glued to the small screen on her palm. If there is an honest communication with children at least once a day for about an hour, the child will feel secure and the tantrums will also reduce because tantrums are a form of seeking attention.
A mother also needs to remind herself that she is a human being, who works for the future of the child and try to keep herself away from guilt and frustration. More than the physical presence, children need our mind space and attention, something which can be given through proper planning, time management and a more positive approach.