The ladies of the noughties may have tried to survive the era pretending to be superwomen balancing work and home amongst economic uncertainty and recession. But it seems that the dawn of the newer times is seeing the work-life balance debate get more realistic.
On one side of the debate is Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg exhorting women to ‘lean in’ by bidding goodbye to ‘mommy guilts and uncertainty’ at work for a happy balance; on the other end of the spectrum is academician Anne-Marie Slaughter who wrote in her much read Atlantic magazine article — Why Women Still Can’t Have it All — ‘It’s not the women but the macho work culture that needs to change.’
So, while women across cultures debate if they can have it all, on Mother’s Day we speak to some women who tell us, how they strike the balance between diapers and deadlines.
Chandni Singh, 36: Make-up artist & salon owner
‘I was back to work within two months of delivering my baby to avoid the sabbatical syndrome’
Mother to a seven-year-old son, Singh says, “My husband is in the merchant navy and is away for months. Often I singlehandedly manage parenting and work.
Though I try to be hands-on, even after I’m back from my salon I am available on email and phone. I was back to work within two months of my delivery to avoid getting into a comfort zone. Also, your child would need you at every age but it may be more meaningful to give them more time when they are ten-year-old rather than two months old.
I keep a timetable dedicated to myself and do not miss my sessions of kickboxing to de-stress. There are days when I am PMsing or my son is throws a tantrum on the breakfast table and I have to run for a make-up shoot, in times like these, it’s my ‘me time’ that gives me sanity.”
Sharmili Rajput, 41: Country head, Oriflame India
‘I don’t shy away from taking the help of domestic staff to balance my parenting duties’
Rajput, who has a four-year old daughter, says, “While having a child does change your life in many ways, there is always a way to strike a balance without much compromise. As my husband and I travel a lot for work, we chart our schedules a month in advance to ensure my daughter is at least with one parent.
Living in a nuclear family, I do have domestic help to balance the chores without getting burnt out. As a mom to a young baby, I’ve to cut down on my post work socialising but I try to make up for it during my travels.
Ever since I had my baby, I’ve brought in more discipline in my life so that both work and home don't suffer. I ensure that the child is at ease with both the parents, so that none of us are stressing during an important business meeting.”
Suchi mukherjee, 40: CEO, limeroad.com
‘One efficient nanny to look after the baby is better than three people floating around’
Mother to two kids aged eight and two, Mukherjee says she has always been in a demanding career, out of choice. She adds, “When expecting my second child, I was on the board of Skype. The job was draining but I made a rule of taking a break at work for an hour in the afternoon to refresh myself.
I don’t think it’s anything to do with seniority but every woman worker who’s sincere at work can lay down these rules for herself. Also, I am against the notion that you have to cook to please the kids to be a part of the supermom club. It’s wise to invest a part of your salary in a good nanny.
One good person at home to take care of the baby is better than three floating around. I am not embarrassed to say that my nanny is like my right hand man.”
Shinjini Kapoor, 40: Owner, Soi Thai
‘No one should pretend to be a superwoman. It’s important to delegate baby work’
Mother to boys aged ten and six, Kapoor says, “Ever since the kids came along, I told myself that the maternal attitude of doing everything on my own may not work.
It’s an added responsibility but I don’t compromise on my socialising time. I set up my catering unit when my babies were young. Instead of distracting me, it worked as an extra impetus.
We also have a fair distribution of duties at home. While dad takes kids to the park, I take care of homework. I am lucky as I am self-employed so once in a while, I take my boys along to work to involve them.
After work, I switch off my phone and take an hour to de-stress. Over the years I have realised that the kids are easiest to please and if you try to get your hands dirty in everything, you may not get much.”
Pooja Lal, 34: Director, delightgifts.in
‘I let my daughter spend some time away from me to let her bond as much with dad too’
While raising her three-year-old daughter, Pooja ensures that her parental duties don’t compromise her life as a couple. She says, “I quit my corporate job to set up my company just at the time I had my kid. I believe in giving my daughter quality time as against quantity time.
So while I am back home by 7pm to watch TV with her, I also relish my spa sessions with the same zest. The idea of women letting go of their personal vanity in order to bring up babies sounds alien to me.
I also encourage my daughter to spend some time away from me so that she gets to bond better with her dad. Despite being proud parents, we have a rule of going for a drink together without our baby to remember that we are a couple too, and not just parents.”