Choosing to work while parenting should not be a deterrent to your role as a mother, and at the same time motherhood should not hinder you from reaching your personal goals.
As a mother you need to allow yourself a sense of identity outside motherhood. The notion that you need to sacrifice your ambition and focus on child rearing after giving birth is unhealthy and can breed resentment in the long run. Unless of course you have found your calling an earth mother and nothing else will do!
If work gives you a sense of fulfilment, then it’s crucial to protect its place in your life. While your love for your family is important, you are in a much better position to provide a nurturing environment if you don’t feel like there’s something lacking in you as a person. The trouble with sacrificing anything is that someone else is always being held to ransom to be grateful for your sacrifice and a lot of the time it is our poor children who pay the price.
Don’t lose your sense of self by allowing your circumstance to impede your drive for professional success. You are an individual with a need for self-fulfilment, and it’s never selfish to make this as one of your priorities. Of course, the real battle is the balance of priorities which leads mothers to sacrifice their careers which is never the answer. The real solution it to acquire the skills to efficiently manage the juggle.
The Numbers are Stacked Against Working Mums
While the number of mothers has grown substantially in the labour market since 2000 with 66.2% of mothers in employment in 2000, now 70.6% of women in 2019, working mums tend to always bear the brunt of childcare.
For families with three or more children, mothers tend to sacrifice their careers and just work part-time.
Over half of mothers or 56.2% said they had changed their employment for childcare reasons compared to just 22.4% of fathers. (ONS, 2019). Around 3 in 10 mothers reduce their working hours to look after dependent children.
That was pre-pandemic levels but during the first phase of lockdowns in the UK, more than 47% of working mums were retrenched and have permanently lost their jobs compared to fathers according to The Institute for Fiscal Studies in 2020.
More than 14% of mothers are more likely to have also been furloughed. Even before the coronavirus crisis, data from the OECD showed that British women did double the amount of unpaid work at home than men.
Mothers have always done more housework compared to fathers who have comparative working arrangements.
The secret lies in being fully supported.
Balancing motherhood and career aspirations can be extremely demanding, but it is not impossible.
The traditional belief that housework and child-rearing are a woman’s domain, no longer holds true. Working mothers can experience high levels of stress by trying to juggle work, family and parenting responsibilities on their own which can tip them into burnout.
To make this work, you need a strong support system. Build a dynamic within your family that everyone has a role in keeping a decent household and a harmonious environment. It starts with you and your partner, and will later on transfer naturally to your children as this will be the setting that they will learn to thrive in.
In families where everyone is involved in all responsibilities, a working mother experiences less guilt and feels more confident in balancing parenting and career. The impact on children is invaluable too; they will find it normal for women to have multiple roles, and they will know how to contribute to an environment where individual needs are respected and nurtured.