It used to be expected of women that they’d sacrifice their careers to raise the children, with the husband being the main breadwinner and the wife devoted to the family at all times. However, times have changed. Women can now, if they want, have both the career and the once-in-a-lifetime experience of raising a family – and more and more are choosing to do exactly this.
All childrearing experts, psychologists and doctors will tell you that it’s important for women to continue to pursue their interests after having a baby, keeping a healthy balance between their duties as a parent and their life as an adult. One of the ways of doing this is to continue to work from home whilst looking after the baby. This can build a new mother’s self-esteem and confidence, can provide financial stability in case of a divorce (obviously not a desirable option, but like all possibilities is worth planning for), and create more income for the family overall.
There are lots of options available for stay-at-home mothers seeking work. Freelance writing, graphic design work, party planning, marketing – all these can be done from a home office. Even the act of creating a home office can be inspiring for a mother – it’s a chance to create an individual space away from the baby. (Although that sounds harsh, it’s important that a mother never feels overwhelmed by her responsibilities, and getting away from the baby just for a little while is not just accepted but recommended.) Many mothers find it an exciting challenge to make a home office – space-saving techniques like a desk in a cupboard mean that not much living space is taken up with office equipment, which is good because the sheer amount of toys, nappies, clothes, and other things required to look after a baby can see even the most careful family suddenly finding themselves having to compromise on space.
Although there are more pros than cons for most people, there are problems that may arise when working at home with a child. Your child may have special needs and require extra attention; you may not be able to keep a toddler quiet when on the phone or Skype (luckily, employers are usually understanding); you may have more than one child at different stages of development all demanding attention at once. You can get around this by setting strict boundaries about who is allowed to disturb Mummy when she’s working and when. Children need boundaries set for them in almost all aspects of their life and this is a chance to provide a learning experience for them as well. Unfortunately the same will not work for babies. Often a husband, partner, parent or sibling is able to look after any very young children whilst the mother works and this can be ideal. But if not, often the choice comes down to either reducing work hours or paying out for childcare.
The argument usually brought up when people discuss working mothers is this: that the children will not receive the right amount of care and attention with the mother occupied elsewhere. But it’s an argument based on massively erroneous information. A child doesn’t need a mother by its side at all times: it needs to be able to learn and grow for itself. And the father – often strangely unmentioned in the debate – should take a share of the parental responsibility too. Many fathers, in fact, greatly prefer staying at home to look after the children whilst the wife goes to work. And even without a father in the picture (which makes the extra income even more vital, and the need to work often completely unavoidable) a mother spending time away from her child doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love and care for it, just that she needs some time for herself.
It bears repeating: the most important thing when it comes to combining work and parenthood is balance. Very often, working from home provides that balance – a mother can work on her laptop whilst her children play in the next room, supervised by her and able to be cared for the second the need arises. Hopefully this will soon be seen as the ideal option for all parents.