Its 5am. Linda relaxes into her seat in the staff bus, took a deep breath and adjusted her hair. It was her first day at work after the 8-week maternity leave.
As she finally settles into the resumption process, she gets a memo from Mr Johnson to resume in the Administrative department.
‘But Mr Johnson, what then happens to all the Sales targets I achieved even while away on leave? I have been building my career in Sales, achieved my monthly target: $800,000 why would the company take me on this transfer?’ she asked Mr Johnson, the assistant Head of Human Resource Department.
‘I am sorry this is happening Linda, you should take a second look at the company’s policies on issues like this’ Johnson said to now devastated new mom.
Few minutes after, she gets a call from Mama, her mother-in-law complaining about how her baby refused food since she resumed.
‘Mama, I dropped this baby with you days ago, just so she could get used to eating from the bottle’ she responded, her voice now laden with tears.
‘But wait a minute. It is truly not all Mama’s fault. I never planned my baby would reject the food at this time, she thought to herself, ‘I think I am depressed already, Today is not a good day,’ She thought to herself as she grudgingly proceeded to her new office.
Linda’s story pictures that of most everyday Nigerian women who have to wean and raise healthy children while still building their careers to become financially independent.
Many a women now have had to single-handedly care for their families, either due to a job loss of their spouses, increasing cost of living and so on.
At the child-bearing age, they are often faced with leaving their homes earlier in the day, whilst domestic helps have to care for their babies whom they sometimes return home to find asleep.
In the midst of the gender parity issues in the workplace which is characterized largely by lower pay than her male counterparts, the woman is more likely to work twice as hard as the man to earn the same.
It has become more imperative that more young women need to understand how to manage growing their careers and business while raising children.
For some of the women who are not able to manage this end up abandoning their jobs to go after the race of entrepreneurship in industries some of them know nothing about.
Here are my top 5 tips on how women can balance their careers and raising healthy babies after maternity leave:
1. Set clear career growth goals:
Asides just sending out job applications, women need to set realistic career goals for themselves with considerations of their maternity leave periods. A rule of thumb would be 3 to 4 years, depending on the number of children she wishes to have. Analyse your top skills and update your CV.
2. Prepare for breastfeeding &complementary feeding:
You don’t want to start getting incessant calls about your baby’s poor eating habits, so it’s best to begin early enough. Get a breast pump in preparation to express breastmilk and of course begin your child with natural foods that exposes your baby’s taste buds to healthier food tastes. I highly recommend Augustsecrets foods and I know you can almost guess why!
3. Carve a professional niche:
After you must have set clear career growth paths, another thing that helps is carving out a niche. With this, you are able to pitch yourself as an expert in a particular field and this keeps you more competitive in the workplace
4. Live close to the office:
Sometimes it looks expensive living a few miles away from the office, but at the end of the day, the stress, less productivity, and commuting costs of living too far away from your workplace are a lot more. If you can afford the options of living closer to your workplace, it would help you become more productive.
5. Buy support:
One of the factors that help working women find the right balance is support. There are no awards for the most hardworking mother. I used the word ‘buy’ because with the high rate of rural-urban migration these days, it gets harder to find trusted hands to assist you with domestic chores if not paid for.
The best bet is to get professional domestic workers or request for live-out domestic help services. It is certainly easier in most African cities for women to get professional domestic helps.
It is suffice to say that the cost of getting professional help to care for your child should be seen as an investment in your career. This way, you are able to focus on further studies, building your career or business, while still raising wholesome children.
I hope this helps some woman out there.