Women have been juggling work and family responsibilities for a very long time now, for as long as when large numbers of women started entering the workforce. For some, it is a full and exciting life but for others, it is overwhelming to have so much to do, never feeling like they are doing any one thing really well. Family workloads have increased a great deal from several decades ago with millions of mothers having to work by choice or necessity. How then are families handlling the juggling act?
Before now most mothers waited until their children were in school before returning to work but these days, most women with young children work to augment what their husbands bring home. When a lot of working mothers get back to work after their babies, their lives change dramatically; most discover that although they are able to find fulfillment in their job, they still do the majority of the housework and child care once they get home in the evenings and this can sometimes be over whelming for them.
“Working moms are still doing most of the housework that can be tasking sometimes,” says Hajiya Binta Namadi, the chief librarian, Kano State Judiciary. However, she adds, “It is not as bad as it sounds, not when you take into account that men are working longer hours on their jobs too, but it will do a lot of good if men are a bit more considerate and help out a bit more around the house .”
But as stressful as it can be for a woman to juggle being a mother, having a career and caring for the home, most working women see their careers as personally fulfilling. They confess to getting a sense of doing something worthwhile and getting paid at the end of the month for it. Women want to be able to help and serve others, be productive, solve problems, use their creativity, meet challenges and learn new concepts and skills.
Stephanie Adokele the proprietor of Shiny Star school in Otukpo, and a mother of 4 children says she gains a great deal of personal satisfaction from her work. “I love being around the students, helping them and encouraging them to do their best. It’s not easy but I love every minute of it,” Adokele says.
While she works full-time during the school year, she doesn’t feel her job interferes with family life at all. “I have basically the same workday schedule and days off as my kids do at their school so I’m able to be home when they’re home,” she says.
Even if she has papers to grade in the evening, she would do it next to her kids while they do their home work or while they are outside playing. “My work is part of who I am, my children are always going to be my top priority. I want to use the degree I worked so hard to get in school but I must say I am extremely lucky because of the kind of job I have, being a doctor for example and being a hands-on mum won’t be easy at all”
Stephanie and Binta are part of the lucky few that have jobs that do not occupy much of the time, what about those who work for long hours? leadership weekend spoke to a doctor, Mrs. Josephine Agbo who also doubles as a mother of one, “the job is really demanding; the days that I am on call through out the night I leave my child in the care of my husband, the next morning he gets her ready for school and that’s how we have been doing it for years now.
It is not easy but life must go on, in fact, the paycheck is also a huge motivator for married women to work especially when you live in an expensive city like Abuja, many households feel the need for two incomes just to get by financially. The cost of rent, utilities, taxes, car expenses, food, clothing and educational expenses are beyond the income ability of the typical one-income family, the input of the wife will help go a long way”
leadership weekend also spoke to Asmau Bello, a branch manager and a mother of 4 who says it is not particularly easy as the late hours at work is what led to the break up of her first marriage. “It takes an understanding man to put up with your long hours at the office, she says “as a woman, it is good to wait a bit for your children to get a bit older before pursuing your career.
That’s usually the best. You find out that most career women have problems with keeping their homes and that is because men tend to be jealous. So to keep your home, you need to step down a bit and later pursue your career. In cases where you cannot, there must be people available to check on the children. You should also pray for a loving husband. Some men are good and there are some that bring their children to the hospital in when there is the need for it not minding the wife isn’t with them. So it has to be the decision of the woman and her husband for her to pursue her career.
Then someone close to the children should keep an eye on the kids. Then again, thank God for GSM. She should be able to call them everyday and find out how they are and make sure their diet and nutrition is okay. Its not the same as being physically present but it goes a long way to make the children feel loved. In this country women must work to meet financial responsibilities as a family lets face it, the men can’t do it all”
Mrs. Kate Nwodike who owns a shop at Wuse market says, “it isn’t easy juggling career and the home front, a lot of women are super women. As for me, I don’t have many kids. I have two and they are spaced out and can take care of themselves now, so that helps. I try as much as possible to show them love when I’m around. There was a time they said I am always at work, and don’t have time for them.
In fact, that prompted my resignation at the bank and my husband helped establish this business, despite that, I still travel for days because if I’m not in charge of my business, it will go down. When I travel sometimes I could be gone for a week to buy things for my shop and my children are left in the care of their father who also works; the only difference between my former job and this is when I’m in town, I close from the market by six o’clock and make sure I cook and then we go out as a family on weekends to make up for lost time”.
Women can juggle family and career but often the solution seems out of reach without support from a spouse or a boss who understands the situation. Although it is a matter of belief in your self and managing your time, it also needs the cooperation of some of the parties that are part of the woman’s life.