scorecardOPINION: Balancing act or pure jugglery — navigating professional challenges as a working mother
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OPINION: Balancing act or pure jugglery — navigating professional challenges as a working mother

OPINION: Balancing act or pure jugglery — navigating professional challenges as a working mother
Careers3 min read
“We expect women to work like they don’t have children / domestic responsibilities. And we expect them to raise kids and tend to the home like they don’t have a career.”

This statement resonates deeply with many mothers, echoing across social media platforms, parenting forums, and communities. It is incredibly sad to acknowledge that this is a sentiment shared by countless mothers who find themselves caught between the demands of work and home. This is also how I felt 11 years ago. On this Mother’s Day, I wanted to revisit some such challenges that seem overwhelming at times and I myself faced as a working mother.

In this article, I won't hesitate from laying bare the challenges of being a working mother. At times, my words may push the boundaries of what's deemed acceptable for print, perhaps even sounding like a rant. But it's crucial to acknowledge and validate these struggles. Being a mother is challenging, and having a career is demanding. Combining these two roles means signing up for one of the toughest jobs on the planet.

Some of the common challenges most working mothers face are :

1.Inconvenient time management: Being a mom is a full-time responsibility. It is a 24X7 job. It is also a role that requires the highest level of surrender physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Having a career requires full time commitment to work. It requires you to keep marching forward as the goal posts keeps shifting. Imagine existing in this state on an everyday basis! Intelligently planning schedules, adhering to timelines, factoring in childcare emergencies and unforeseen developments at work require precision akin to six sigma.

Oh, and don’t forget the events! The birthday parties, the company off-site, the client visit and the school annual day – these are no less than an hurdles race we’re running whilst holding a life in our hands.

2.Coping with emotional demands: A working mother is almost always torn between the various emotional demands that come with being an individual who would like to raise a beautiful child whilst building a respectable body of work. There's always the lingering "mommy guilt" of missing out on precious moments and "not being around enough". And then there's an inner voice tugging at her heart, urging her not to lose sight of her career goals.

3.Burden of judgement: From next-door neighbors to relatives, and sometimes even family members to colleagues, peers, and superiors - everyone seems to view working mothers with a preconceived notion that they are set up for failure. No matter how hard she tries, her best is never enough. There is often very little acceptance and a lot more judgment.

4.Lack of support system: The Indian family system is not designed to support working women. It often glorifies women as "domestic goddesses" and sees them primarily as caretakers. There are exceptions of course – some families genuinely nurture the individual and her dreams while some depend on the women financially and therefore make space for her work while.

5.Unconscious bias and microaggression - Working mothers often experience a lack of support both in the workplace and at home. Many also encounter discrimination and bias in professional settings. This can take the form of being overlooked for promotions or job opportunities, as well as facing negative stereotypes or assumptions about their dedication to their work due to their parental responsibilities. The snide remarks, the judgmental stare, the condescending tone or simply the lack of empathy – the list goes on.

The list doesn’t end here. Working mothers face numerous challenges as they strive to balance their professional and personal responsibilities. From societal expectations to workplace biases, the hurdles can sometimes seem insurmountable. However, by building strong support networks, negotiating for flexibility, and challenging stereotypes, working mothers can overcome these challenges and achieve success in both their careers and their personal lives.

My advice to working mothers, is to enlist as much help as possible. Outsource tasks that do not require a personal touch. Define boundaries at home and work, and reinforce what can or cannot be expected of you. Seek mentors and build allies at work. Most importantly, work on your ‘self’ – carve out ‘me-time’ and indulge in self-care. Doesn’t have to mean a spa, it could be cuppa and a book or meeting an old friend.

The reality is that there's no such thing as a perfect balance. It's all about finding what works for your family and your career and making compromises when needed.

Lastly, be nice to yourself. Remember, you’re doing the best you can. Every mother is the best mother in the world.

Chetna Israni is Co-Founder and Director of Morning Star Brandcom.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are of the author/interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of Business Insider India. The article has been partly edited for length and clarity.