SOrry its long 🙂
When I left university my priorities where different from what they are today, I was ready to find a great job, go for my masters and attain a phd , climb career ladders and be in a top position at the company , and in between fixed a husband and family. I got the job that I am passionate about ( which I think is key for success at being a career woman, wife and mother), My priorities changed when I met my husband and had a baby! Now my career is still priority but my life does not depend on it. My family comes first, then my Job.
Women juggle a lot, when it comes balancing your job and your family responsibilities. I am a mother of 1 so far and I run two organizations, Hive colab which is an innovation hub and incubation space for tech start ups, developers and designers, VCs and investors for the Ugandan Tech community ( www.hivecolab.org) and Women In technology Uganda (www.witug.org) which encourages more women to join the tech field through training, networking and mentoring of youth, girls and women to pick interest in ICT, business women to use ICT in their businesses and training girls that have dropped out of school in ICT and business skills to encourage them to start a business or find a job after the course after acquired skills. Of course I do not work alone, I work with two teams for each initiative. Both are very young start ups that require lots of sacrifices and hard work to build them to achieve our goals, In each Improving the standards of living of Ugandans using Technology. I am a mother and wife which means this demands my time too, as an African woman in Africa having a partner does not mean equal share of home/house hold responsibilities, most husbands/partners will provide for the family in terms of money and expect the wife to make sure all other responsibilities are in check, like looking after the children, cooking, cleaning, gardening (for some), shopping, washing clothes for all. So it is common for an African home to have a house help because day care if the children are below two years is too expensive, and having a helper/nanny is cheaper, but you cannot leave it all to the nanny/house help, you as the woman of the house have to do your part, you cannot get home and put your feet up at the end of the day like your husband will do, when you get home, you have to make sure the house is clean before the husband comes home (be a home maker), make dinner, if you are too tired, at least prepare the sauce, make tea(if you and your husband are tea people) make sure the children have bathed( I make sure I bathe my baby each day, just to be sure they are bathed properly you cannot leave it to the nanny all the time)feed the baby in case of a young one, and spend some time with them, before putting them to bed, then take a shower yourself, have dinner and get some sleep, and it’s a routine every day…. Sometimes I find myself carrying my work home and before you know it, you leave home early, come late evening and still have work to do! So most times I have no time to cook during the week, I make most sauces for the week and put in the fridge so we just warm them and make fresh food, not the best solution but it works for me.
How do we it? Its not simple being a mom, wife and a career woman, I guess that is why some women prefer to stay at home and raise their children first because balancing these two aspects that are both important and require an enormous amount of time is not easy BUT its doable!
I have struggled many times when I find myself getting home, giving my baby (1.6 yrs. old) a few minutes and then I remember there is something on my to do list I did not complete at work that needs immediate attention, I put her down and head for my computer. Then I feel guilty! Many of us can relate,
Here are a few tips that have helped me try to balance
Don’t do it alone seek help, delegate, when at work I do not have to do all the work that I know a colleague can do as well as I would or sometimes even better! In Africa its common to have in laws and relatives visit without invitation(not mine though) take advantage of them, do not refuse help when they offer it, I would rather a relative take care of my child than a stranger, not with the child sacrifice stories going around in Uganda, so each time a sister in law offers to come spend some time home with my girl, I am happy to even pick her up from her home! Keep good relationships with people in your life, you just never know when you will need them. Some times I travel and have to leave my baby behind, without my In-Laws I am not sure I would have the courage to leave her behind but because I have built good relationships with them, I trust that my baby is safe and will be treated like I would. If a husband offers to help (which is rare for some african men) take them up on their offer, sometimes I have networking events that require me to stay out late, if there is no one to be with the baby, my husband offers to baby sit, which is great! I take all the help I can get from people I trust in my Life.
Priority: when I am at work I focus on my work and call home just to make sure they are okay, and once I am told she is fine, everything is okay , I continue with my work and focus entirely on that, as a rule, when I get home, its family time, I do not get online anymore unless I have something urgent that I need responded to or because of time differences with people I work with I will work, if there is nothing, I will not get online to just check my mail or my facebook groups or twitter! I will have me time once a week and nothing will change that, its time to be away from work, and family, even if its two hours, they are my hours, I will be alone or with friends.
Be kind to your body, be kind to your self: we all have different limits, sometimes I am so busy at work I find myself passing through the lunch hour busy typing away on my computer and running from meetings to meetings that it clocks 5pm and I realize I only had breakfast, get home and take a cup of tea with a snack, by the time dinner is served at 8pm I am not hungry so I go to bed, I did that for a while till I realized I was doing an injustice to myself, when I fall sick I will not be able to do these things that keep me busy, so I take time off to have a decent meal every day, care for my hair and body, eat the right meals, balanced diet and also keep in shape, now gym is not a favorite of mine, so I exercise at home, I take walks three times a week and some aerobics and dance with my daughter, it’s a fun way to relax and bond with her. Enjoy both your work and your family, give time to both, do not let one suffer and where you need to prioritize in case you cannot do both, FAMILY should be first!
Find the right Job, if you are true to yourself you will understand that some companies, jobs are not right for you if you are to achieve a balanced life, so as a wife and mother, find a job that will allow you to be flexible in regards to balancing the two. Its not just about the money the job will give you, so before I became a mother, I was looking for an organization that would employ me with a with an attractive salary, benefits and did not mind so much travel, transfer or long hours. Today, I if I was to look for a job, I would consider where I would carry out the job, is it right for my family? Am I required to work on the weekend? Because my priorities have changed, I am not moved by just money being offered, everything has to be right! There are areas I can compromise on and areas that I cannot!
Those are some of the few tips, as a working mom what are some of the tips that help you keep a balance! Lets here it.