Is it better to be a working mother or a stay-at-home mom? This debate has been there for long and there are proponents of both the philosophies. Having checked out the grass on both the sides I have finally settled for the best of both worlds (I work part-time). However, everything is not all hunky-dory all the time, I do miss out on a lot of things at work because I rush out during the middle of the day and all I do at the office is ‘work’. I don’t really have time to ‘socialise’ as my hours are limited. And when I’m home it’s not like I’m giving my 100 per cent attention and time to the children. I still have to answer work calls, resolve crises, check my e-mails, make reports and meet deadlines. Still, I’m thankful that I have a career and also can be there for the children.
As someone who has worked the whole nine hours (and more) I understand the exhaustion and irritation you feel when you get home after a terrible day only to be confronted by tears or accusations at home. You want to be there for that school play but your boss says there’s no way you can miss that review meeting. You want to read your child a bed-time story but half way through it you are asleep. You want to bake some muffins for the school fete but forget to buy the ingredients the previous day. You keep missing the PTA meetings and the school sends you an e-mail asking you meet the principal. Sounds all too familiar, isn’t it! Relax, we are human too and we never said we would be perfect specimens of motherhood, did we? So, here’s why we shouldn’t feel guilty every time we make eye-contact with those who are so quick to judge us.
1. Your children do not suffer in daycare or nurseries
Young children do not suffer if their mothers work, a study by Bristol University suggests. Researchers traced the development of 14,000 children in the south west of England over a ten year period. They discovered that there was no difference between the development of children of working mothers and of those who stayed at home. The study also showed that children who spent the first three years of life being looked after in nurseries suffered “no measurable psychological or behavioural ill effects because of their mothers’ absence”. So, there you go. Your children will turn out just fine, don’t fret.
2. Working mothers raise more independent children
A 2015 Harvard study has found that children of working mothers go on to have more successful careers and more equal relationships.“We hope the findings from our research will promote respect for the spectrum of choices women and men make at home and at work,” the researchers concluded. “Whether moms or dads stay at home or are employed, part-time or full-time, children benefit from exposure to role models offering a wide set of alternatives for leading rich and rewarding lives,” says Harvard Business School professor Kathleen McGinn, lead author of the study. Women whose moms worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time.
3. More flexible
Children of working moms are usually less fussy. They are used to being with other caregivers and learn early on that mom and dad can’t be around to handle their every need. They are raised to handle challenges. They know that sometimes things get rushed or cancelled and most of the time they are the last ones to be picked up from school. But they get ready to roll with the punches which makes them more adaptable as they grow older.
4. Spending time with them
A Journal of Marriage and Family 2015 study indicated that whether you work outside home or not, children tend to spend the same amount of time with their moms. Any time you spend with your children is quality time. It could be a few hours after work or perhaps the whole day if you have that luxury. But what I’ve observed is that even when I stayed home I didn’t spend every waking minute with my child. I had other tasks to complete and that meant leaving her to play by herself while I did the laundry or cooked lunch. So, in effect the amount of time I spent focusing wholly on my child was probably the same amount of time I did when I was working. The difference was that I was less stressed and had way more flexibility with how I did that when I was a stay-at-home mom.
5. It’s your life
Once you get married a whole clan of people will have an opinion about what you do and how you do it. You may get a lot of comments about why you need to work if your husband is providing enough for the family. And why you mustn’t upset the balance at home needlessly. I say you work because that’s your choice. If you have been given an education then shouldn’t you be using it given an opportunity? Don’t make excuses for being successful and passionate about your work.
Farzeen Ashik is the author of the prize-winning novel ‘Rainbow Dorm Diaries-The Yellow Dorm’.