WFH Peril, Perception – Don’t juggle them, tweak them to be just right !!!
When I became a mother four years ago, I was working with a multinational organisation. I had a job that I loved and never could imagine that my becoming a mother could interfere with my career. I had no idea that my heart would begin to pull me in different directions. I had believed that I would be able to jump into my job as soon as my maternity leave got over, but I was wrong, so wrong. I discovered with experience that motherhood is something that changed my priorities for life.
Thankfully for me, the organization that I worked for allowed me to work from home (WFH) for a few months after my maternity leave was over. Although it was difficult, but it still was a big blessing for me. It allowed me to be around my baby for longer, feed him and watch him as he achieved some of his growth milestones. I could cuddle him and kiss him whenever I wanted. However, working from home came with its own challenges, such as working in an environment that was not as peaceful as my office cubicle, lacked the fancy telecommunication systems and the suave meeting rooms. The other thing that I missed out on was the ability to catch up with my colleagues and discuss things face-to-face with them.
However, what pinched me most was the perception of colleagues that when you work from home, you are not working as seriously. Interestingly, some family and friends also felt that since you are at home, your work is not as serious, which was far from reality. On the contrary, I ended up working all the time, late into the night or early in the morning and making the most of my time when my baby slept. While in office I had the chance to chat with people over a ‘chai break’, at home I began to feel guilty about getting up even to eat breakfast. On certain busy days I did not even get a chance to comb my hair. In spite of all these difficulties, I preferred to work from home since the control freak mother in me, found it hard to let her baby out of sight during the initial months.
Around the same time, I saw some of my friends in other organizations who did not have the privilege of working from home, either drop out of their jobs to become stay at home mothers or worse, suffered from guilt for not being with their kids for a significant part of the day. Often, unable to match up to the energy levels of their toddlers once they returned home from a heavy day at work. The kind of guilt mothers feel for spending time away from the kids is unique to our species. I barely see fathers feeling bad for spending long hours at work, travelling or spending time away from their children, having delegating their parenting responsibilities to their wife and other family members. Overall, I definitely felt blessed to be able to manage the two important spheres of my life.
Through these years, I really wished that more organizations offered a work from home option for their employees, be it women or men and more importantly offer it without carrying any bias, which would allow many more women to stay in the workforce through the tough years of child rearing. Secondly, I would love to see people who do not work from home treating those who do with respect. Respect for their work and for them as a person for juggling two worlds at the same time, while they themselves have to take care of just one at a time. Lastly, to all the mothers who are working from home, I would like to say…please do take care of yourself too. In our pursuit to be superwomen and supermoms we often forget our own selves. So, do make time for yourself, relax, it is okay even if everything is not as perfect as you would like it to be.
While reaching the destination is important, enjoying the journey to get there makes it even better!
However, donot let the perception of you on others spoil the spirit within.
Rise up and tweak the perception so that it is just right for you.
Our Guest Author : Aditi Sarkar Dutta
Aditi Sarkar Dutta is a full time mother and part time writer. She holds a Master’s degree in Organisational Social Psychology from the London School of Economics. After working for over eight years at multinational consulting organizations, she quit her job to be able to enjoy motherhood and follow her passion for writing. Her posts, based on her personal experiences are available at her blog (http://mrsdutta.blogspot.in/) and her articles on parenting continue to be published in the White Print magazine. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband and two children. Your comments, compliments and suggestions are welcome.