Stay-at-home mothers require support to begin working again
Indian women do 90% of all household work, the most of any of the large countries in the world. If men pitch in with this work, women can be gainfully employed.
A good friend of mine, a mother to two teenagers, is now planning to get back to work. She is worried how everyone at home is going to cope with this, but she is extremely thrilled about the fact that, very soon, if all goes as per plan, she gets to step out of the house everyday for work. We all know stay-at-home parenting can be very isolating. My friend, who is a double post-graduate, decided to take a break when her first child was just six months old. Her career trajectory was impressive and upward till then.
However, the mounting pressure to balance household work, the newborn, and her career, almost made the decision-making process seem easy and natural. At that point she was more eager to see herself resigning to domestic duties and coming to the family’s rescue and becoming its saviour by sacrificing her career and her dreams. What she did not take time to think was, how or when she wanted to get back to work again. She also did not take a minute to wonder why her husband was not expected to make any changes to his day or lifestyle. We cannot blame her. Isn’t this how we as a society think and operate?
I must clarify that the husband is a good man. He has always supported my friend in her decisions. Like all other decisions, he did not contest when she quit her job. In fact, over a period of time, he realised that his life, in fact, has became more convenient because he knew his kids are in safer hands while he was able to focus, in moving up the career path. Was he doing the right thing? I will let you answer for yourself.
Do you know that Indian women do 90% of the household work in India? This is the most of any large country. Wouldn’t you think with all the awareness and increase in literacy rates among women, the female employment rate should have gone up? It has steadily declined over the last decade. Statistics also reveal that if men pitch in with household chores, women can aim to get gainfully employed. This is not only great for the household, but even as a nation, this can greatly contribute to our GDP. While we are empowering our women to take more responsibilities, the men lack the skill or patience to handle daily chores. Lack of exposure could be the issue here. We are dealing with a generation where many (men) want to support women but just do not know how.
Anyway, coming back to my friend’s story — perhaps you’re wondering what made her take the jump finally. We were on a girls-only trip. She looked worried. A senior traveller inquired if this was her first trip. My friend nodded and mentioned how it was her first time away from her children. The traveller calmed her down saying they will do just fine. That night, before we could retire for the day, she confessed that what worried her was that her children would now learn to manage without her. “The fear of not needing her anymore” bothered her.
She now knew she had to get back to her dreams. The great news is that the family has extended complete support in her transition from being a stay-at-home mom to getting back to work. They have created chore lists and fixed responsibilities. Though they have warned mom that it will take some time before things are done to perfection, they have made it clear that they want to support her dreams, and that her happiness means the world to them. Now I find that a fair warning and I am sure mom can live with it!
Wishing my friend and the likes of her, loads of energy and best wishes to pursue their dream!
An advocate of women’s rights, Neela Kaushik started a Facebook community called Gurgaon Moms to create a local support network for mothers in the city. Today, it has more than 25,000 members.