Times have changed and young couples are now highly educated, enabling them to aspire for more in terms of their careers. It is no wonder we observed more mums at work as women refuse to let their careers take a back seat and choose to juggle between being a mother and employee. Even though these successful women should be credited for their abilities to balance childcare and work, that is not always the case.
Many mums at work are labeled as ‘bad mums’ or ‘uncommitted employees’ because they do not meet societal expectations. It’s high time we end the prejudice against working mums and recognise their efforts to maintain a self identity among the deafening screams of a crying toddler.
1. Breast pumping at work
This is probably one of the greatest concerns for mums at work because it’s either inconvenient or awkward if there are no dedicated nursing spaces in the office. Working mums should not be blamed for taking long breaks in between work for breast pumping. In fact, companies should provide a safe and comfortable space for nursing mums to pump milk. While some may think that it is a good excuse to skive, breast pumping is actually necessary to keep the milk production steady and sufficient for the baby.
Let’s not be judgemental and let new working mums fulfill their maternal duties, shall we?
2. Being inadequate mothers
While it may be unintentional when someone passes a “What about your baby?” remark, it creates unnecessary guilt and makes working mothers feel like bad mums. Keep in mind that a lot of sacrifices were made for mums to be at work. With that said, the life of a stay-at-home mum isn’t a bed of roses as well. So, hats off to the benevolent mums!
3. Asking for childcare help
Ask any mother and they will tell you they wished they had more than 24 hours a day. Time is always a tricky problem for working mums. Of course, there are times where things crop up and working mums just can’t help but delegate parenting duties to someone else such as a grandparent or a professional caregiver.
Instead of judging them as bad mums, family members, friends and neighbours should provide as much assistance as possible when it comes to childcare. Working mums should not feel ashamed to ask for help and should ask for permission to work from home if no alternative help avenue is available.
4. Taking time off from work
According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), working mums have the right to make full use of their maternity leave. Mothers who return to their job position should not be penalised for their absence as long as they do their best in catching up. In addition, mums at work may need to leave their job midday due to unforeseen circumstances relating to their children.
Employers and colleagues need to be understanding and if possible, allow working mums to work from home whenever necessary. It’ll be hard for working mums to cope with work and family if they do not receive support from their workplace.
5. Reporting sick more often
It’s common for young children to contract illnesses from other sick children in school. Mothers, who often take up the role of the primary caregiver, tend to spend a long amount of time nursing their children back to health. This means that mothers are often the next in line to fall sick.
More often than not, working mums still feel obliged to turn up at work despite feeling unwell as they feel ashamed to take more time off. This should not be the case, working mums need to receive time to recover or be allowed to work from home.
6. Lacking commitment to their jobs
Working mums are often seen as less driven or not as committed to their jobs. This perception is derived from the amount of leave they take and the likelihood of them rejecting overtime work. However, these are not appropriate measurements for one’s commitment.
Working mums may be working twice as hard during their time in the office (or even when they are working from home) to make up for the occasional absence. Employers need to recognise their efforts and assess performance based on the quality of their work instead of the number of hours they clock on the job.
7. Mums at work looking disheveled
Imagine running after a soiled toddler while trying to make breakfast for the whole family. Sounds like a chaotic morning, right? Do not judge mothers as bad mums for the tidiness of their house or the creases in their dresses.
For working mums, finding the time to take a good bath is a privilege in itself. Dedicating all their time to their children, dressing up is the last concern for mums at work. Excuse them for the food stain on their blouse, it’s evidence of the morning’s battlefield.
8. Turning down after-work gatherings
Honestly, a working mum is probably the last person you’d expect to see at an after-work event. There are too much precious moments missed when mums are at work. Time with their children is too precious and it is expected that working mums would rather head home straight after work to fulfill their childcare duties than sit around at a bar to mingle with colleagues.
9. Being uncontactable during the weekend
Weekends are reserved for employees to rest and enjoy with their families. With adequate time to recharge, employees can come back to work on a Monday morning feeling energized and motivated. It should not come as a surprise when employees, working mums or not, are uncontactable after working hours and during weekends (depending on the nature of their jobs).
10. Changing career choices
Sometimes, there are so many things going on in the life of a working mum, she just has to sacrifice some stuff to make way for others. Working mums may choose to substitute their full time job for a part time job, or take a pay cut so they can work from home as a freelancer. Working mums should not be judged for their career choices, as they know what is best for their children and family.
It’s time we start appreciating working mums’ efforts and sacrifices by providing more consideration and support. Being away from their children does not make them bad mums!
Are you a working mum? Feel encouraged knowing that you are not the only struggling mum at work. To ease the burden on new mothers, check out this list of baby products that Singaporean mothers swear by.