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A travel consultant by profession, I live in the so-far sleepy suburbs of Colombo with my two kids aged 7 and 10 and my husband of 11 years. With previous experience in teaching, media and humanitarian work, I have also always enjoyed writing in whatever form possible! I now spend my days yoyo-ing between work, family and as much travel as possible within the country.

More women than ever before are now juggling both family and work. According to a study conducted earlier this year, a global average of 54% are working mothers. That’s a pretty high number!

Let’s be frank. Sometimes we women want it all. We want the family, the career, the social life and our quiet down times. We want everything to run to our beat. Well, there isn’t a particular reason why that’s not possible. It’s all a matter of juggling, and women are pretty good multi-taskers if I say so myself!

One of the most challenging acts of juggling however would probably be that of career and family. Our family consists of the people we love most in the world, the ones closest to our hearts, the ones that we want to show the greatest love to and the ones we wish to cause the least pain to, if at all. Our career is the work we have chosen to do, to help our wellbeing, to stay connected with the rest of the society perhaps and for some of us, it may also be a calling which makes you feel fulfilled and happier as a being. In some cases it may also be that our work is simply something we need, to maintain that source of income for the family.

Whatever the reason behind the juggle, it is no easy feat. I’ve been a working mum ever since I’ve been a mum, which is more than 10 years now, and there’s quite a bit that goes into a decent mix of work and family. To be brutally honest, after my second child made an appearance I decided to stay at home to look after the children and the household in general. A couple of months down the line, I turned into a walking wreck- I could barely hold a decent conversation with my better half and all the running around with the kids was driving me up the wall.

With more than just a spring in my step, I returned to work, so glad to be able to get away from being a full time mum. Expressing my joy at getting back on the career ladder might make me look like a terrible mum, but trust me, sometimes it does get a little too much. Perhaps I didn’t have a good mix of activities to keep me going, but that’s a different story altogether!

Being a working mum, I feel there’s a couple of things (to start with) that we should probably get right and then slowly and hopefully things will begin falling into place and life will balance out (at some point, fingers crossed!). Here’s a few things I think is important to know and sort out at the onset…

  • How the week ahead is going to look like in terms of the home front

Most of the preparation in balancing my life is mental and emotional preparation. This means I need to know what is happening when, so that at the beginning of that particular week, I can plan the days ahead. Knowing a day ahead that my daughter has an afterschool concert practice is something that I really dislike, but it happens and those days end up being stressful and less productive as a working mum. It really does help and ends up being a stress free week when I’m prepared for each day and its challenges.

  • How the week ahead is going to look like in office

My field of work takes me all around the country. While these trips are mostly planned, there is the odd visit out of town that pops up in the middle of the week. They are uninvited and tedious, but again, things I may have to oblige to do.

  • Reliable child care

In today’s day and age, child care remains a critical component of every working mum’s worries. Finding a reliable and trustworthy child-minder has never been easy, but personally I am blessed to have my parents around. They have become an immense help and support system for me to be able to successfully fulfil my many roles. If you rely on a child minder, then once you find a good one, treat them well and build a good relationship with them.

With all these in place, the week becomes easier, but once this is done, I usually plan how my evenings are spent, especially as it is so important to have quality time with the kids and husband. On most days we are all home before six in the evening, which lets us have a bit of down time and then get on with dinner and homework.

There are days when I feel I’ve not quite managed to fulfil my duties as a wife, mother and an employee. I feel like I’ve not done justice to the responsibilities I’ve been given. Those are perhaps the toughest days to get through. The days when the house is a mess, my work is not completed and we are forced to have a take-out dinner instead of the preferred home cooked meal. I think those are the times where I appreciate the support of my husband so much more. He reminds me that I’m already handling so much, so well, and it’s okay to sometimes not meet expectations, expectations that perhaps I have imposed on myself in some cases. It really does put my mind at ease to take a step back and look at how much I handle and how well I’ve managed to handle it, except for the odd day!

After a day’s work, probably the best part is coming back home to the kids. The smiles and the hugs I get from them on my return makes it all worth the while. Those moments are probably the ones where I feel like I need to be a full time mother again, because I realise how much I’ve missed them the entire day! But then, there is also this urge to succeed in my career, to be able to say, I wanted to have a career and a family and I’ve successfully managed them both!

Being a working mum, it is very important that the responsibility of running the household is balanced between me and my husband. The good thing is since both of us work, the expectations are less both ways. I don’t expect him to have done anything and he doesn’t expect me to have done anything as we are both away during the day. That’s a great understanding about the whole situation and also paves the way for equal responsibility for running the house. Well, I’m not sure equal responsibility is the correct word, but at least we both work together to run the home as smoothly as possible!

My repose after a long day which begins usually at 4.15 am (if I can wake up to the first alarm) finally comes after the kids are in bed, the kitchen’s cleaned up and I’ve managed to take a relaxing shower.

Once my head hits the pillow, I take a moment to plan my next morning in my head, so I know what to expect emotionally and mentally. I thank God for the strength He’s given me to go through the challenges of the day and I ask for His wisdom for the next. As much as it is about hard work and planning, it is also about connecting spiritually and realising you need some sort of inhumane strength to go through your day. And knowing that you have access to this is all the more encouraging.

Being a mother and an employee is not to be taken lightly. The responsibilities attached to both these ‘professions’ is immense and as immense as it is, it is also equally rewarding. There may come a time when I would finally hang my hat and say adios to the job scene, but that day is not to be seen on the horizon yet and until then I can safely say that I am happy to have a lot of variety and colour on my plate!

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