Build Your Own Ecosystem
If I go back to work, who will look after my child or children? What about school holidays when I am at work? What about emergencies? How are we going to manage all of this? These are questions that come more frequently than ever now.
When we were growing up, people believed ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Our lives have become increasingly complex, and new ways of survival must be found if women want a seat at the table.
Solutions like reaching out to grandparents work for some, not for all. In our experience, having one’s own independent system is key to having a good day at work. Here are some strategies which our members swear by:-
- Know what you want: Are we stating the obvious? No, not so much. Most people know what they don’t want. But when asked to define what it is that they do want, it is a challenge.
Similarly, when you are consciously building your eco-system, this is something that you need to focus on. On a flow-chart, you almost need to have ‘What if’ scenarios and put down your desired outcomes. Once you have done this, you will feel less ambiguous about the ‘What if’ and be clear about what needs to be done in different scenarios when you are not around.
- Create partnerships: With? Family, neighbours, friends, people in surrounding areas with similar aged children, the school, teachers, school parents, local day-cares, after school classes. Anyone who meets some element of the trust factor and is a part of your surroundings.
Not all partnerships are the same. Not are they equal. But what makes them work is open and transparent communication. Be pro-active about reaching out for help when you need it. Be specific about the help you need. For example – “Start an Act here or join an Act here. “This week I am going to be late at work and madly busy. So dear teacher, in case there are additional projects to be done, please bear with me. Also, just so you know, the nanny is new.” Or, “Dear neighbours – we have a new nanny. Please keep an eye out. Thanks”.
- Teach your child to be independent as early as you can. Even if you are leaving your child with a nanny – the biggest struggle that we face is that children become increasingly attached to the caregiver. It is easier for the nanny to just feed/bathe/change the child, rather than cajole them to do it independently. And there starts the vicious circle of dependence and you feeling absolutely helpless that you cannot do anything without the nanny.
Instead, create a reward chart for everytime the child does something on their own and ensure that the nanny is a part of it.
- Be stern with yourself too: No guilt. No whining. We owe it to ourselves
and our children to be the best we can possibly be. Today’s generation of children needs all the help they can get and seeing an independent mother who wins at work and wins at home, is crucial to their upbringing. In your own way, you are rewriting the rules. Don’t ever forget that.
This is your Second Act. Let’s begin.