A woman pounding in a mortar with a baby strapped on her back is probably the scenario of decades gone by. Today, the picture may portray a house maid doing the cooking while the former bends over a desk somewhere outside the home.
In the olden days women were relegated to the background and considered simply home-makers. However, with the increasing economic demand on society and family today, the reverse is the case as many women combine home-making with work outside the home and even emerge as bread winners in some families. Here, Weekly Trustsought the opinions of some career women on how they juggle between the two.
Mrs. Amaka Ubochi is a psychologist as well as a wife and mother who strives to strike a balance between her roles. “Honestly, combining family and career is not an easy task at all,” she says. “If I should have my way, I prefer staying at home to take care of my children,especially at this their tender age. But since the economic situation of our country does not give room for that, I have no choice but to juggle between the two in order to eke out a living. At least, when a woman is working it is not every time she needs to buy food seasoning or chewing gum that she would ask her husband for money. I can make a pot of soup without disturbing my husband at times.”
Mrs. Fidelica Aniekwena, a civil servant, explains that:”The idle mind, they say, is the devil’s workshop. It is not easy, but with adequate planning, consideration and God’s grace, women will cope well. When my children were younger, I achieved that by employing a house help to assist me, coupled with the fact that I have an understanding man as a husband.”
Teachers play an indispensible role in the society and their occupation is arguably one of those that give room for balance in management between the home front and work place. Thus, Mrs. Ify Mbila’s job as a teacher allows her to be at home when her children are. “I picked up teaching job so that I can have time for my children and family. Running both is still not easy, but one has to make job choices that give an ample time for the family,” she intimates.
Mrs. Katelyn Omigie, a banker, had to quit her job in order to have time to take care of her children herself because her tight schedule did not give her time to interact with and understand them. “As a banker, I used to drop off my two kids (aged four and two) at a day-care around 7am and pick them up at 6pm every week day. We would go home around 6:30 in the evening, I would make dinner and they would then go to bed around 8pm. So I started thinking that I was only seeing them for just two hours in a day. If that was all the time I would spend with them, then why did I get married and give birth to them in the first place? So, I quit my job and put my career on hold for the moment, just to have quality time with them.”
One of the disadvantages of combining career and family is that relationship with one’s spouse and children can suffer because the pressure affects happiness and satisfaction in the marriage, saysLeslie Crossman, a clinical psychologist with Houston Independent School in Abuja. “The couples do not often have enough time where they can talk and give each other undivided attention. Also, there is the physical and emotional health of the woman who is overwhelmed with job pressure and household responsibilities and may not have time for friends and leisure. These are things that help women rejuvenate themselves and regain emotional peace. Without that stressors can get the better part of us,” Crossman reveals.
However, stressful though it may be for a woman to juggle between the two, many women find a lot of advantages to combining both. Most working women see their career as personally fulfilling. Women want to be able to help and serve others, be productive, solve problems, use their creativity, meet challenges and learn new concepts and skills. Even though a lot of these can be achieved at home, having some additional growth opportunity outside the family unit can be appreciated.The extra pay-cheque for the family is also a huge motivator for them to work, where for some it may be to meet wants rather than needs. But these days, many households feel the need for two incomes just to get by financially because the cost of rent, utilities, car expenses, food, clothing and education are becoming a burden too great for the husband alone to bear.