Aren’t parents under pressure today? Immense pressure. They have to balance work-life (family and self). Wondering why “self”, keep reading.
A new parent is learning walking on tight ropes. In the early years of parenting, parents feel overwhelmed on setting priorities. Nappy change, colic baby, fussy one, toddler’s emotions, and preschooler’s temperament. One phase at a time.
Being a parent changes few priorities in life and it demands a shift of focus from other activities. A “work-life balance” comes into scenario much bolder and bigger than before.
With parents going to do everything on their own and expect it with perfection is burning them out. Most parents are unsure about all tits and bits attached with a child in lap. They undergo little preparation for this lifechanging experience. Once the maternity and/or paternity leaves are exhausted the “work-life balancing” goes more challenging.
What is a work-life balance?
The dichotomy between work and play has been around since the 1800s. However, it was only during the 1970s and 1980s that the concept of a work-life balance was talked about.
Work-life balance is an important aspect of a healthy work environment. Maintaining a work-life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout in the workplace.
Also, allows investing quality time with self and family/friends.
Why do we work?
What a silly question! Of course, it’s for living. We have responsibilities, bills to pay, and some more.
An average Indian works 52 hours a week. Their counterpart millennial in working in China, Japan, USA, Canada and Australia clocks 48, 46, 45, 42 and 41 work hours per week respectively. Does that ring a bell? The average employed Indian woman worked 44.4 hours per week (in the April-June 2018 period) as against the developing country average of 35-36 hours, as per ILO estimates.
In a recent survey by Monster.com’s Understanding Work-Life Balance survey, over half of Indian professional (60%) rate their work-life balance as “average to terrible”. Nearly half of the professionals here have a family. Most of them are caregivers as a parent or have aging parents/relatives to care of.
Living in a patriarchy society where men contribute less than 20 minutes a day to household chores women are overburdened. It is a socially accepted norm in most households. Even with both spouses working, women end up doing most household chores. The scenario is changing slower than snail pace. Even when a man wants to help, he is clueless. He is raised as dependent being, instead of dependable. Giving today’s parent another reason to encourage independent human early in life, it is a life skill.
When a woman raises concern, she is suggested to seek a balance. In wrapped words – to quit a job or quit speaking. No wonder, the female labor force participation rate is having a sharp decline a historic low of 23.3% in recent times.
Where is the balance lost?
With a poor balance of work and life the employees face multiple penalties like health issues, drop in productivity, lower morale at work, emotional burden to point at some.
Is work-life balance of Indian parents a myth?
Measures were taken up by employers, employee and governing bodies so far have seen
- Childcare near/at office
- Maternity leave: As per the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act of 2016, the maternity leave has been raised from 12 to 26 weeks.
- Paternity leave
- Adoption leave
- Work from home
Indian workforce also spends hours in commutation. Exhausting them to and fro the workplace. Moving home nearer to the office might be a hit or miss case. What if the other spouse’s office is far? Or the schools are not up to mark nearby? Healthcare facilities and recreation center. Before moving near the workplace, a lot of checklists has to be considered.
As technology enters the home, it blurs the segment of work and life more. The meeting, calls, and training after office hours training all add up to imbalance.
Even the boss’s attitude can impact the work-life balance deeply.
A study reveals that married women employees have Family Work Conflict (negative impact on work situation due to family) or Work-Family Conflict (negative impact on the family due to work). Factually parents suffer and have the guilt of balancing childcare and commitment at work. The emotional conflict hits both regardless of gender.
Kids, even in the early years to feel the absence of parents. For all-round development, children need warm, devoted attention and quality time with parents. Quality time, when they’re physically and emotionally present with the child. A work-life balance can help.
So, is there no solution for balancing?
Yes and no. Yes, because one defined solution won’t fit for all. No, as it does lie in our hands, major portion does if not all.
When we say work-life balance, we seek equilibrium. What if the solution lies at other points?
- Unplug. Segment work and life-based on flexible priorities. Remember the story of a man who used to hang his office bag and baggage at the door before he enters his home every evening. And switch when on urgent-important need
- Make your “Me” time – dedicate few minutes on personal growth. Starting with lowering the expectation bar of being the perfect parent.
- Create a support system that helps you strive. A modern village.
- Adopt Slow living.
How are children impacted by work-life balance?
We know every child get that undivided attention and care, especially during the early formidable years. They are not able to communicate needs or express emotions. They would like to talk about events at school or daycare or about friends.
If we as a parent are available to the child to encourage and express his day, the child feels secure, loved and safe. All the right reasons to drop everything and listen to them. A preoccupied parent might have a negative impact on the child, leading to question his self-worth and esteem.
What is slow living?
In layman words, living life to fullest at own’s pace, the right speed. Quality over quantity; real and meaningful human connections; being present and in the moment.
Slow parent term is evolving these days, where a child strives, struggle and learn, without a race. Something our ancestor did practice for long.
Do you have a ritual of balancing work and life with kid(s) around? Do share your thoughts.
This post is a part of the conversation about “Dilemma faced by modern parents in the early years of childhood”.
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