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Going back to work after having a baby can be all kinds of challenging. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things many women have had to do. Even for older children, it’s still tough having to spend more time apart than together. Yet for most families, having that double income is a necessity, not a luxury. Furthermore, not every mum can stomach earning zero income, and not all can be fulfilled without maximizing their potential as a professional. So, work we must, and yet, we love our children and want to be the best mothers we can be. What to do? First, handle the practical side. Get a good nanny or a good crèche. This goes a long way in maintaining your peace of mind while you’re away at work. Knowing that your child is in good, capable hands will ease some of the distress. You cannot excel at work and have outstanding kids if you’re bent on doing it all by yourself. Even the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 had help, so forget about trying to do it all by yourself. Even if you have a helpful partner, still outsource whatever you can, and save your energy for those things that absolutely must be done by you. Making the distance between work and home as short as possible is another thing that can help keep you sane. If you close from work and then spend another two or three hours on the way home, you’re more likely to become increasingly unhappy as a mother. I know a mum who worked at the headquarters of her company, where the action was. There was a branch closer to her home, but being at the HQ, although it was three hours away, meant better chances of career growth for her. I understood her decision to remain at the headquarters. I also understood when she quit the job totally a few years later and started trying to get to know her children and correct many things that she had never noticed before. These choices are never easy, and that’s the truth. You don’t have to quit your job, of course. If you’re determined to lean in, do yourself and your family a favor; work close to where you live or move closer to where you work. These two factors alone can help you not to worry too much. Work-life balance doesn’t really exist in terms of balancing work and life “equally”. When you’re at work you should be at work, and when you’re at home, you should be at home. That’s a more realistic goal to aim for, and the quality of help you have plus how easily you can get home, play a huge role in achieving that goal. There’s no point allowing guilt to debilitate you. Wanting or needing to work does not make you a bad mum. There is dignity in labor, and you’re a human being. Every time you deliver at work you express the talents and gifts in you, and you add value. Countless women have been able to combine this with being great mothers, so don’t let guilt sap your energy. It’ll do neither you nor your family any good. Instead, be available to your children as much as possible. Make sure they (or their caregiver, if they’re little) have access to you on the phone. When you do get to spend time with them, remember that quality matters, not just quantity. If you can, choose a mother-friendly company to work for. Talk to mothers in the company and find out how much support they got. Some organizations have a crèche and other forms of support in place to support mothers. I know of a mother who was able to arrange for fewer hours and less pay. She took a pay cut, worked till 12noon every day and then went home to raise her children. Like I said, it’s an “if you can” thing. Not everyone has the option to choose. In the end, one of the best things you can do is to be realistic. Can you have it all? Many professional women have shown that you can; just not at the same time. Something’s gotta give, and you need to make your peace with that. Just as some have had to work part-time for a while, others have had to take a less stressful job for a while, or even work from home for a season. Even juicy jobs with travel opportunities have had to be forfeited. Being realistic about what kind of job you can handle will go a long way in protecting your sanity. Being a working mother will require sacrifices from time to time. Your career may not progress as fast as it could have. Even if it does, between work and family, you may find yourself with no time for a social life. You are not alone. Do the best you can, and make peace with what you do have.

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This article was first published on 31st May 2018 and updated on June 19th, 2018 at 10:04 am


Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at]

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