Serena Williams’ announcement to switch from tennis to another career to be able to grow a family highlights the difficulties faced by working mothers. Four moms explain how to transition while preserving your identity and potential
Serena Williams with her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. Pic courtesy/@serenawilliams on Instagram
Unfair to have to choose
From working eight or more hours a day in an office as an employee to working all day at home as a mom is a substantial shift. Mumbai-based psychotherapist Riona Lall emphasises that this change can bring with it opportunity. If going back to the same career or job at any point post pregnancy isn’t an option, she notes that the change can open up areas that one wouldn’t have looked at before motherhood. “Having organisational skills plus your experiences as a mom doubles the strength and can help women create new ventures. Women bring so much to the table because they wear many more hats as compared to men. Skill and knowledge aren’t lost when one stops working.”
Tips from this mom
>> Being a stay-at-home mom is unpaid labour. Do check-ins with yourself to understand how you feel and try to avoid running on autopilot.
>> Take time out for yourself. Do this even if you’re not working.
>> Support is needed from your partner and family. Just because the woman bears a child, it doesn’t mean that the onus of bringing up or caring for a child rests solely on her.
Smart mom moves
Mrinalini Rajpal who went back to work as a lawyer at the Family Court Bombay, three years after her son was born, shares that her career took a hit because of the break. She would’ve been made partner at a litigation firm had she continued working. Instead of taking a few steps back and starting from scratch, like Williams, she evolved her career, shifted fields, and now specialises in divorce law. Rajpal adds, “I have no regrets about the time I spent with my child, because not only have I taught him to be independent, but we also value the time we spend together.”
Tips from this mom
>> Enjoy every moment and milestone with your child when you have your career on pause.
>> Draw up a schedule for your child and yourself. It will make tasks easier even if everything does not go to plan.
>> Celebrate and nurture your mind and body, and its abilities.
>> Build a good support system that can include family, staff at home and mommy friends. If you’re busy at work, you can always reach out to your support system for help.
Not retiring, evolving
“All moms will be able to relate to the fact that Williams pointed out — that having to choose between family and career is not fair,” Paarul Sharma, a Bundi-based blogger and mom influencer shares. She adds that when companies turn hostile towards moms-to-be, leaving them out of projects or creating issues with maternity leave, the decision to become a mom and the transition to one becomes very difficult; this needs to change. Looking to fulfill her potential after quitting her job to care for her sons, Sharma began blogging as a mommy influencer. “I carved a space for myself in doing this — creating and writing blogs, and understanding how to plan content,” she shares.
Tips from this mom
>> Everyone has strengths and weaknesses; don’t let your weaknesses dominate your strengths.
>> Ditch the mom guilt. Your family and kids will be able to manage without you over time.
>> Only when you are happy, will you be able to make your kids happy. So make sure you are not exhausted from your family duties. Take time for yourself.
>> Set a goal and give it a go at once. You’ll find yourself getting better at it every day. Don’t think about what the relatives will say because it’s you who’s going to be happy when you make it to the top.
Career development expertise
Pearl D’Souza McKenzie, director, PrePearl Training Development Pvt Ltd, Ahmedabad
1. Articulate your vision. When you have a kid, you have to relook at how you work. Once you identify how you want your work to evolve, it will be easier to take steps towards it and plan for it.
2. Working will give you a change of space, which can help refresh and energise you. Creating and contributing will nourish a different side of you.
3. Ask yourself what you’re good at in your job, what you are known for, and what your talents are, and build opportunities or a career
based on them.