Being a mom anywhere in the world is never easy, and it is even a lot harder for a typical African woman, who — while trying to juggle a full-time job with caring for her family — faces a plethora of societal issues, peculiar to the region.
For long, African girls and women have been contending with a range of challenges, occasioned by archaic cultural and religious beliefs about the female gender. In a deeply patriarchal society, women strive to shatter the notion that the value of an African woman lies solely in child bearing, sex, and caring for the family.
Today, an increasing number of women are now entering the workforce in various parts of Africa. Data from a Pew Research Center analysis of labor statistics in 114 countries carried out in 2017 reveal that women constitute 40 per cent of the workforce in over eighty countries around the world.
However, what was more surprising is the fact the leading five countries that had the highest female share in the labor force were all in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In the sub-region, Zimbabwe and Malawi led the pack, with each having over 52 per cent of female representation in the workforce.
This was followed by The Gambia (with 50.8 per cent), Liberia (with 50.6 per cent), and Tanzania (with 50.5 per cent).
These stats reveal that today, more moms are now in the labor force more than ever. As an African woman, who is working 9–5 or managing a business, and still have put in several hours of unpaid labor taking care of your husband and kids, here are some tips to help you find the right balance between profession and parenthood.
Stick with Your Decision
If you consider your career to be a vital aspect of your life, this is one value that should be diligently honored, since it creates an avenue for you to be empowered and self-dependent and be less reliant on your husband.
If you are the kind of person who has to continue working for financial reasons, consider honoring the fact that you are doing what’s necessary to accomplish your financial goals, what you feel is best for your family. Instead of allowing those negative thoughts and guilt to develop, concentrate on all the beautiful things that your kids will learn and the privileges they will enjoy by you getting empowered in your career.
Don’t Be Shy to Say No
You need to realize that saying yes to one thing usually implies saying no to another, even though the decision is never verbally declared. Time is your most important resource. Instead of thinking about all the things you want to accomplish soon, prioritize and focus on action items that have the highest urgency, and take care of those first.
Draft a list of 3 or 4 tasks that you have to do in a day and cross them off the list as they are accomplished. Strive to make this a habit.
It an act that can give you satisfaction as you’re making progress, buttressing the fact that you can accomplish multiple tasks in a day, both at home and at work/business.
When you are at home, let your full attention be at home with your family. Keep your smartphone aside and spend quality time playing with your children out in the backyard or inside on the floor.
Assist them with getting their homework done and ask them how their day went. You can also drive them to any activities they love to attend or sit down with them for a family meal. Your children will be happier, and you will also be happier since you know you are using your time judiciously with your family by staying fully present.
Request What You Need
Consider setting boundaries and sharing your expectations. Also share your role, schedule, or career as you deem it necessary.
As you well know, no one can read your mind. If you would be needing more time at home for your kid, who is struggling in school, you should not tell your colleagues to “call me this weekend at any time.” Don’t undermine yourself as a result of old habits or guilt.
Trust Your Gut
Just like you know your family best, you equally know your boss at work. You should trust your instincts when you think your children are acting out due to the fact they need your attention.
Strive to give them that extra time as well as nurturing, even if that would make you miss a few minutes of work. Since motherhood is your most essential job, it should not be taken with levity.
In the same vein, you will have that gut feeling when you are not living up to your responsibilities at work. Ensure that you put in your best on the most important projects. If you have to spend some time with a sick child or leave work early for a school event, consider informing your supervisor & colleagues when you will be able to make up the work.
Once you are well aware of your personal & professional values and priorities, you will find it easier to believe in your instincts.
Don’t Feel Guilty
When you have assumed ownership of your choice to work, don’t entertain any feeling of guilt as regards working. We have several people that are looking to sabotage your efforts as a working mom; strive to ignore those comments or actions triggering working moms to feel guilty.
You normally feel guilty when you feel when you have done something wrong. However, as an African woman and a working mom, nothing is wrong when you are contributing to the financial support, in addition to your family stability, and the college fund.
Using these tips, you can better navigate motherhood and career, striking the right balance between both vital aspects of life.
By J MOYO
FOUNDER/ PRESIDENT, TAWF