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Opinions of Saturday, 29 August 2015

Columnist: Abigail Esi Otabil

Coping with four major worries of motherhood

Combining work, motherhood and marriage, can be overwhelming sometimes, especially when you have to carry out all the household duties in addition to your work. Sometimes I get mothers asking ‘is it possible to raise these children and work at the same time?

This is a difficult question to answer, however the truth is, nothing can be achieved unless with determination and hard work. Below are some worries and how to manage them as a professional working mother.

Upkeep of children
The challenge here for most mothers is, who to take care of the children when they are not around. Veronica (a mum of two and an engineer by profession) explains ‘if my children are on vacation, I leave them in the care of a nanny.

I make regular phone calls during the day to ensure everything is under control. It can be a bit uncomfortable when I am not with them, but thank God for nannies’.

Depending on the type of work you do, you may have to leave home early and return late. Who takes up the role of the mother in your absence? This is a complex question to answer.

Sometimes you may feel guilty when you are not available to take the children or pick them up from school, or give them a shower and a good night kiss for instance. Here are some available options you may consider;
* Get help when you can, involve family members or friends when possible. You can engage professional nannies if you can afford.
* Never go through a day without seeing your children if possible.
* Appreciate the effort of your spouse anytime he helps with the children in your absence. It encourages them to do so more often. It is a sign that you approve and appreciate the help.
* Do your best to communicate with your children about your work and explain to them why you are not with them sometimes. (This should be done when your children can understand what is being communicated).
* Spend quality and memorable times with them whenever you get the chance.

Caring for your spouse
Arguably, it was much easier when it was just the two of you until the children started arriving.

The tasks of taking care of yourself, your partner and the children can be a little overwhelming sometimes. Combining these with other household responsibilities and work can be a daunting task, especially when it is your first time of having a little one.

Tracey (a nurse and mum of two) had this to say: “I feel very uneasy whenever I am not able to prepare dinner for him.

I apologise to him anytime that happens and I do have a secret treat for him; in doing so, I get a sense of relief for not being around.” You may have to work out some treat for your spouse yourself if it may compensate for your absence.

Below are some workable approaches you may use:
* Always communicate with your spouse whenever you are not available to perform a responsibility. Do not create unnecessary surprises that can create conflicts or disagreements in the future.
Try not to assume that he should know you are not available at certain times, it is always best to communicate even when he is aware.
* Try and spend quality time together as a couple whenever you get the chance. This is important as it gives you two the chance to catch up on some lost times. Take the children to grandparents or get a nanny if the need be. It helps reduce stress sometimes.
* Pack lunch for your spouse when he is going to work for instance.
* Try and pull some occasional surprises like coming home early whenever you can.

Handling household chores
Most mothers would like to have a beautiful home with a cosy lounge to return to after a hard day’s work, but you may or may not get this all the time.

The truth is, with children around, household chores automatically increase. A working mother would have to perform her duties at home after a long and hard day at work. In reality, combining household chores and professional work can be a difficult task but someone has to do them.

Angela (a wife, mum of two and marketing manager by profession): “I get scared when Saturday is approaching; I literally work through the entire day. Sometimes I feel more tired than the normal working days.”
Rochelle (a wife, mum of three and banker by profession): “I love Fridays but I am a bit overwhelmed with household chores over the weekend. I have to make sure my house is spot on before I can rest.”

I guess these are familiar sentiments most working mothers experience. You have to take it easy on yourself and work through your weekends. Here are some options you can consider;

* You can plan your house chores in such a way that certain tasks can be done within the week so that you do not get overwhelmed during the weekends.
* Get help from family or friends. You can also employ a weekend house keeper to assist you if you can afford.
* The truth is, you cannot do it alone so take it easy on yourself and work at a pace that would prevent you from stressing up.
* Get the children to participate in household chores when they can do so.

Peggy ( a mum of two and nurse by profession) had this to say: “I get my children to pack all their toys after playing and they assist me to clean their rooms, it may not be spotless but every little effort helps sometimes.”

Who takes care of me?
Most professional or working mothers I speak to including myself, do have the feeling of who really cares about them. It is a natural feeling you get sometimes, especially when you are tired or stressed. You can consider the suggestions below;

• Take time to rest whenever you get the chance. Keisha ( a mum of three and accountant by profession), stated, ‘I love it when I get to relax and do my other passion of reading and writing. It helps me to cope with all the pressures that come with motherhood and working at the same time.”

• Communicate to your spouse anytime you are in need of something. Do not make assumptions because you are better of saying what you want for it to be provided, than to keep silent and be deprived of a necessity.

• Do not refuse treats from your spouse. Avail yourself whenever you are offered to be taken out for dinner. Do not give excuses for instance ‘I cannot make it because of the children’.
Try and get help so that you can have sometime with your spouse. It makes you feel being taken care of. Appreciate your partner from time to time for his help so that he will be encouraged to do more.

• Learn to pamper yourself whenever you can. For instance, fixing your hair or getting a massage or pedicure and manicure.

No one disputes the fact that God has endowed women with the capabilities to combine and manage different tasks at the same time.

However, with the pressures that come with marriage, motherhood and professional work; you would have to put certain measures in place so that you do not get over-stressed.

Remember always to take care of yourself, make time for your spouse and children by spending quality time together as a family. It is your home so clean it when you can and make time for the children whenever you can.