But this is not usually the case. There are a number of reasons for which women return to work after having a baby. For many women these reasons are purely financial. For others they could be personal. A woman who has worked her ass off for the last 15 years, studying and gaining experience to become a doctor could feel like she may lose part of her identity if she stops working altogether. Another woman in the same situation may feel comfortable stopping and dedicating all her time and energy to her child. Who gets to decide if either of them is right or wrong?
As cliché as it may sound, the key word here is balance. The danger that comes with being a working mother is that of getting ourselves into an extreme situation where we work long hours and unfortunately do not get to spend quality time with our children.
Another key word here is quality. You can have all the time in the world living in the same building as your children but you may not be spending enough quality time with them to make this meaningful. That’s not to say that the amount you spend with them isn’t important. Many studies have shown links between quality parent time — such as reading to a child, sharing meals, talking with them or otherwise engaging with them one-on-one — and positive outcomes for kids. The same is true for parents’ warmth and sensitivity toward their children. It’s just that the quality of time matters much more than the quantity.
The one key instance studies found where the quantity of time parents spend with their children does indeed matter, is during adolescence: The more time a teen spends engaged with their mother, the fewer instances of delinquent behavior. And the more time teens spend with both their parents together in family time, such as during meals, the less likely they are to abuse drugs and alcohol and engage in other risky or illegal behavior. They also achieve higher math scores. (Click here for more on this study)
Building relationships, seizing quality moments of connection is what emerging research is showing to be most important for both parent and child well-being.
So how do us working mums make sure we are giving enough quality time to our children? We have shortlisted our top 9 tips:
- Spend the first 30 minutes after you arrive home from work with your children. Resist the urge to reply to a phone call or have a shower. Addressing them immediately will help show them that they are important to you.
- Involve them in your work. If you can work from home, let them sit next to you and explain what you are doing, ask them questions about what they think you should do, they may surprise you 🙂.
- Call them at least once a day to see how they are, especially if you work long hours away from home. They will look forward to your call and feel you are sharing their daily experiences. Something may happen at school that they are really excited to tell you about. If you do not talk during the day, by the time they see you they may be so tired they forget to tell you and then remember the next day when you are not there which will turn into a vicious cycle.
- Do not be influenced by other mums. If you wish to put your children to bed at 10pm instead of 8pm because you want to spend time with them when you get home from work then do so.
- Make sure they know their worth and do not feel that you are not spending time with them because they are not worthy of your time. Remember children do not understand that work is obligatory. They may assume you prefer being at work than spending time with them.
- If you work very long hours during the week make it a point to compensate in the weekend and spend good quality time with your children.
- Plan ahead. Try and make sure to take time off for special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas if you can. They will miss your presence more in these occasions.
- Do not make the mistake in assuming that because your children are all grown up they don’t need you anymore. As they get older they may brush you off but deep down they need to know you want to spend time with them.
- Do not forget about your partner. We always talk about how working mothers need to make sure they don’t neglect their children and tend to forget about the father-figure in these situations. For your children it is important to see you and their father-figure as a happy unit. So yes, once in a while it is okay to leave your children to go on a date. A date does not need to consist of a fancy meal. It can be a simple walk or a movie.
Are you a working mother? What do you think of these tips? Do you have any other suggestions? We would love to hear from you. Please comment below 🙂