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Work Or Family?

With both parent working these days, parenting is often left to grandparents, nannies and, for some families, even the maids. But what are the repercussions of this decision? Other than the obvious cultural issues, what kind of upbringing can we expect, what kind of values will be passed on to our kids and would these values be in line with our own?

So, if you decide to do it yourself, does it mean that you'd have to give up your career? A former career woman but now a stay-at-home mum, I believe that with some changes and lots of determination, you can keep that career and still make time for the family. It took me a while before I realised that I was spending more time at work and less time with the family.

It wasn't till an incident at work that I opened my eyes up to reality. I realised that no matter how hard I worked, I would never be rewarded with the same level of appreciation or satisfaction I would have received, if I had devoted that same amount of time and energy on my family. Of course, the monetary reward is one thing, but is it everything?

Not even close. What's more, your boss would not hesitate to replace you if he had to; whereas your family will stick by you through thick and thin. So, while I sympathise with mothers who lament that they have very little or no time at all for their little ones, my advice to them is to make time!

Don't make the same mistake I did and let work consume you as it did me. Regretfully, I was absent for most part of my kids' growing up years. They were already nine and 13 years' old by the time I gave up my career, a career which I had been slowly building over 17 years, to become a stay-at-home mum. It was a drastic step indeed, but to this day, I will say that it is one of the best decisions of my life and I am still reaping the rewards.

Yes, I gave up my career for my family. But you don't have to do the same. It does not necessarily have to be one or the other. It will take a lot of determination, hard work and even some sacrifices but it can be done. For starters, you can work towards changing some of the ways you do things at work, at home and with the family.

At Work

Switch To A Flexi-Hour System/Work From Home

One of the major changes to your work style that you can consider is switching to a flexi-hour system. Depending on how liberal your company is, flexi-hours could mean anything from working just three days a week but longer hours each day as opposed to five eight-hour days, or half-days in place of full-days, etc.

The arrangement you and your boss finally settle on depends on how creative you are and how open-minded he/she is. Alternatively, you could work from home. A word of caution though, because this arrangement requires a lot of discipline and not everyone can successfully separate work time from family

Work late As An Exception Not The Rule

When you are working, there will be times when you would have to stay late. Make this the exception and not the rule because, believe me, it is easy to get into the habit of staying late at the office.

Fix A Time To Go Home And Stick To It

The best way to avoid getting caught up with work is to fix a time to go home everyday. For instance, if work officially ends at 5pm or 5.30pm, you can give yourself up to say, 6pm if you cannot finish your work. But make it a point to leave by then.

Do Not Bring Work Home

And when you leave for home, do not bring work home with you. What's work, leave it at the work place because when you reach home, it's family time!

Remind Yourself That You Have A Family At Home

In case you forget that you have a family waiting for you at home, place a photograph of your loved ones on your desk in the office. Besides reminding you of what's in store for you after work, it will help put a smile on your face when the going gets tough at the office.

At Home

Get Part-Time Help

When you are at home, you don't want to be bogged down with the mundane house ironing clothes, for instance, can be very time-consuming; it's time better spent with the family. Leave these and other daily chores like sweeping, mopping and washing to a part-time maid. Part-time housekeeping services are quite affordable these days and are easily available.

Keep Things Simple

Although the general household chores have been taken care of, there is still the cooking and the cleaning thereafter to worry about. Daily delivery of home-cooked food is common these days. But if you want to cook dinner yourself, try to keep the dishes simple. There are many cookbooks that cater to the needs of busy working mothers. Just pick them up at any bookstore.

Also look for recipes that require baking/roasting in the oven or stewing in the slow cooker. Not only are these healthier, but you also don't have to slave over a hot stove for hours. Just pop it into the oven or leave it in the slow cooker and go spend time with the family until it is time for dinner. Particularly useful are one-dish meals, which can still be tasty, nutritious and well-balanced.

With The Family

A Family That Does Things Together Stays Together

Indeed, and they don't have to be complex things. They can be simple things like watching TV, playing a board game together, jogging or even doing the dishes after dinner. Getting the family involved in the cleaning up in particular has its benefits. Not only does it give you an opportunity to bond with the family, it also makes the job easier and teaches, particularly the kids, cooperation and consideration for others.

You are not a Superwoman, so you would need to take breaks some time. In fact, you need to take more than just breaks, you need to take care of yourself because you are no good to the family if you are mentally and emotionally stressed or physically tired. Besides taking care of yourself, take care of your spouse as well.

Occasionally, if you can, take off together and spend time alone. Just because you have kids does not mean that you can neglect your spouse. Parenting is a team sport so the two of you need to work together, not against each other. It should never be a question as to who or whose job is more important. When the two of you work together, everyone benefits, the kids most of all!


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