By Mallika Bhatia
I am a 100% sure that I am not the only one who fought a mental battle to decide between returning to work after becoming a parent or being a full-time stay-at-home-mommy.
How am I so sure? I have friends and family who were fighting the same battle. I have acquaintances currently going through the same dilemma and clients who can’t figure out which aspect of their lives has a higher priority.
Let me help you decide
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
What I told at least a dozen of my clients is what finally helped me to decide. I had to remind myself that I am more than a mother. I am more than a therapist. I am more than a coach. I am more than a wife. I am more than a friend. More than a woman, more than a sister, more than a daughter. I am so much more than the roles I play.
I am all those things and yet I am more. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts, as Gestalt said.
Each of the roles we play represent the various aspects of our lives. They portray a bit of who we are, yet they can’t ever define us completely. As important as being a parent is, there are still other aspects of life that hold a lot of value. Being a parent may be the most important expression of who one is but being a worker/artist/assistant/manager/CEO isn’t lower in terms of what it adds to one’s life. Live each aspect; explore each facet. Embrace each side of you that demands expression, not only the one that commands the maximum of it.
Change is the only constant
With a new role in your life, everything changes. The way you dress, the way you party, the amount you can work, your sleeping time, your schedule: everything. Then why not be open to changes in your work life, too? A few changes can make returning to work not only guilt-free but also a relief from the otherwise repetitious mom-life.
Start part-time if you have doubts about returning to work full-time. It gives one the time and breathing space to set a new rhythm. Starting part-time works wonders in figuring out how much time one is willing to spend away from the kids. It helps us in identifying if we can truly manage all the chores and tasks in a given day to our own satisfaction.
To each their own
Choose a new line of work if you have to. I know a few women who made a career change to be able to do justice to their new roles as mothers. They wanted to work, but at their own pace and on their own terms. They are all super happy with the balance they created in just a couple of years. Maybe this is the path for you, too, if you are willing to try and trust.
Find a new path or a new pace that enables you to return to your career. Something that suits you and your family. But don’t let the parenting inertia stop you.
It is also possible that you may not be the kind of mother who wants to be with her child 24×7. You love your children and are willing to do anything for them, but you need your breathing space. Your career is equally as important to you as your child is. What bothers you is the guilt of not fitting in with the other moms: the internal struggle of being seen as a ‘super-mom’ by others.
You are not alone. Some women I know went back to work 3 months after delivering a baby, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. If that’s what works for you then that’s fine. Just remember that the guilt and the need or pressure to fit-in isn’t necessary. In fact, it is so far from being necessary. A happy mom means a happy baby. If being at work helps you to become a better mother to your child, then chose that, without needing to justify it to anyone.
It is a partnership
Your partner is as much a parent as you are, so figure out a plan together. Divide responsibilities, support each other, make a schedule, and remember what your ultimate focus is: to be a happy, balanced and fulfilled family.
One of its kind
Just like each child is different, each mother is unique too. You have your own personal parenting style. Your drives are unique to you, so your career path should be, too. Don’t compare yourself to another. Choose your own path and walk it proudly. It could mean working full time, working as a freelancer, taking up a part time job, or not working at all.
Whatever you choose, remember to choose happiness.
Mallika Bhatia is Life Coach with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Diploma in Hypnotherapy with more than 13 years of experience in this field. Yet her 3 year old seems to believe that Mamma is a snack maker who is also good at telling bed time stories. She is a writer, a blogger and a published author who had a regular dedicated column in 2 National Dailies in India. Though her daughter still strongly believes that Mamma’s work is sitting in cafes and staring into empty spaces. She practices in Munich at her office in NeuHarlaching or over Skype. For appointments & more information check out- http://www.mallikabhatia.com For regular doses of wisdom ‘Like’ & follow her on https://www.facebook.com/MallikaBhatiaJ/