Career vs family: Why working mothers shouldn't have to choose just one

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Managing work within the standard working hours is a priority for many mums.
Managing work within the standard working hours is a priority for many mums.

Dubai - Is 'work-life balance' just an elusive goal for working mothers? Countless working mums around the world are constantly stressed-out about managing time at home with their children and their careers, and striking that perfect balance between the two.

By Ambareen Musa

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Published: Sun 17 Apr 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 17 Apr 2016, 2:42 PM

But a 2015 study by Harvard Business School shows that working mums have less cause for worry about how their children will turn out.
The study which assessed data from 24 countries, showed that children of working mums stand to benefit in the long term. The research found that daughters of working mothers are more likely to be career-oriented and professionally successful, while sons raised by working mums are more likely to pitch in more at home, sharing household and childcare responsibilities.
So it's about time that working mums ditch the guilt trip. Here are few tips to help working mums to optimise their time and keep their work schedule and time at home in harmony.
Having a realistic goal when it comes to parenting
Yes, the perfect balance is an unrealistic goal for most mothers with full-time jobs. Chances are that you might have to miss a few moments in your child's life, but that's no reason for you to feel guilty. When you share 'breadwinner' responsibilities with your spouse, it goes without saying that you're also sharing childcare responsibilities with him. So let the husband drop the kids off for sports practice or help them with some school activities.
As a working mum, you contribute to your family income to meet all their needs. So instead of feeling guilty about the times when you're not around, make the most of the times when you are.
Making the most of your time at work
Managing work within the standard working hours is a priority for many mums. Optimising the hours spent at work and delegating when you have to means not having pending workload which you might have to either stay back late for or finish later at home.
Many working mums also make the most of their lunch breaks. Sarah, a marketing manager working in the UAE and mother of a 5-year old, says "I make the most of my one-hour lunch break, making a quick supermarket run close to work and buying groceries and supplies for home. That way I save time and go straight back home after I finish work".
Making the most of your time at home
With most of your day being away at work, think about ideas to help optimise your time with the family. Most women are so overwhelmed with household chores and meeting the day-to-day needs of their children whether its schoolwork, planning their lunch etc. that they are left with no time to actually emotionally engage with the kids.
For example, cooking can actually be a fun family affair. You could allocate one weekday as a cook-your-own-meal day, turning your kitchen into an interactive family zone where everyone builds their own sandwiches. Or you could enlist the help of your children in helping wash vegetables or prepare the salad, while everyone shares how their day went.
Taking time off for yourself
Being a working mum, you're also partly responsible for putting money aside towards bigger purposes like your children's education fund, loan installments, household bills and utilities. Besides all of that, it's also okay to pamper yourself after putting in all that hard work at the office, whether it's one night off every other week from bedtime duty to go out, or booking a day of relaxation at the spa every month. Seeing you happy, relaxed and calm rather than stressed-out, will have a positive effect on your children too.
Don't shy away from getting external help
Whether it's hiring a nanny, a part-time or full-time domestic helper, it is okay to have some help from outside to assist you manage your hectic schedule. If you can afford it, the UAE is not short of options when it comes to hiring a domestic helper. There are hundreds of agencies that will provide you with exactly the type of house help you're looking for, be it for a few hours every day or on a full-time basis or even upon request whenever required.
You shouldn't have to choose between career and family. So avoid the guilt trip and make the most of your time with your family, without compromising on your career.
The writer is the founder and CEO of Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policies.

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