It seems only yesterday that the summer holidays ended and school started up again, but once more mothers nationwide are finding themselves face-to-face with yet another holiday. You can double-check the calendar on the wall or flick through your Blackberry, but Fall Break is less than a week away. Although real life often doesn’t emulate the extremes of Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It, working mothers never feel more panicked or stretched than during school breaks. The key, therefore, is to come up with a plan wherein a professional woman can enjoy some quality time with her family without sacrificing the day job.
An Important Issue
Nonetheless, women’s presence in the workplace is a serious matter. In an age when the fairer sex still has to battle workplace misogyny and unequal pay (77₵ for every male $1), and with over 50 percent of the female workforce in entry level jobs, those women—further, those mothers—who have managed to rise to directorial level and above (81 percent of C-level jobs are still held by men) don’t want to be obligated to allow the (whisper it) distraction of family to falter their progress, and you don’t have to.
Not every family can afford a nanny (as many successful career women enjoy sharing as the magic ingredient tip to “having it all”; as meaningless and laughable as the claims of some shampoo adverts). Instead, in addition to their simultaneous roles of wife, mother, and hardworking employee, women often have to take on the additional position of family secretary, putting in enough time that any member of staff would demand a raise for their efforts. In short, apart from sorting out childcare, or being allowed to telecommute from home for the week, this means scheduling (though not too rigidly) the early mornings and evenings ahead. They say the kitchen is the heart of the home; make it this break’s familial hub for connecting with each other. A cheap, yet cheerful option for maternal fulfilment.
Similarly, not every household can afford a trip away (in terms of either time or money) whenever there’s a school break. It’s therefore crucial to get creative in your thinking. In lieu of a costly-yet-culturally-enhancing trip to the Big Apple, for example, Broadway musicals travel to more provincial theatres these days, so be sure to check what’s on near you. The life of a working mother can sometimes feel like a cabaret, but a busy life’s yellow brick road doesn’t end on a wizard’s doorstep and a pair of red shoes. That sort of fantasy’s where live entertainment comes to the rescue, and most theatres offer reasonable discounts on family tickets too.
Finally, if the guilt of working hours bleeding into family time sometimes seems overwhelming, then take comfort from the recent Harvard study that found daughters of mothers in paid employment go on to better careers (one in three in managerial positions) and even enjoy healthier relationships. Hard work really does pay off.
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