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What you need to know:
- When you are parenting as a single mum, you provide care, exposure, challenge, support, love and guidance to ascertain your child’s healthy development.
- This means that you must create a nurturing environment that affords attention and availability for your child.
I am a mother of one, and I value my job. But whenever I find myself staying late at work, I feel guilty about being away from my child. This feeling often overwhelms so much that sometimes I feel like I’m slipping into depression. I am wondering how I can best strike a balance between my family and career as a single mother. Please help me figure this out.
I am sorry about that, and I understand what you are going through. There is no doubt that we are living through hard economic times. It is not easy to strike a balance between family and work nowadays, hence the dilemma. The best way to go about it is to admit that the situation may not change soon and learn to live with it as early as now. Whenever you find the slightest opportunity to spend time with your child, utilise it.
It is good first to appreciate that you have a baby to look after. Secondly, be grateful to God that he has given you a job when most people are getting laid off. With that, you should accept that there is time for every aspect of your life. That is to mean that you should give your job the needful time that your baby should not take away. Similarly, give your baby the time it requires and do not allow work to take it away.
I will answer you by sharing an analogy. One day, John was working at a big five star hotel. He was enthusiastic about his job. He would stay late into the night even when he was not on duty. He aimed to impress the management. One day, the head chef held him by the hand and took him to a pillar. The head chef said to him, “Do you see this pillar, John? It’s the one that supports the Intercontinental hotel, not you. Go home and relax.” So girl, take care of your baby, he will always be there for you after work or worse still after being fired.
Family Therapist’s advice
There are undoubtedly many mothers who value their work as you do and would want to be accomplished and excellent workers. The conflict you experience is real, that is, on the one hand, you want to put effort to be outstanding in your career, but on the other hand, there is a child who requires your attention and availability. It is therefore common to feel guilty because you fear you are neglecting and abandoning your child for work.
When you are parenting as a single mum, you provide care, exposure, challenge, support, love and guidance to ascertain your child’s healthy development. This means that you must create a nurturing environment that affords attention and availability for your child.
Remember what you do or do not do determines the kind of a person your daughter or son becomes. Your child is a jewel, so your parenting should be well informed and systematically evaluated and monitored to ensure positive results.
Inbuilt in humans is the need to actualise and become the best version of oneself. Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualisation contends that individuals are motivated to fulfil their potential in life.
This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is and to become everything that one is capable of becoming. Your self-worth will depend on how well you juggle all your critical interests so that you can succeed in all of them. You certainly can excel in both career and parenting though this is a delicate balance. It would be best if you were a superb time manager allocating enough time to yourself, parenting and work.
You have to establish routines which take cognisance of all your crucial responsibilities and stick to them. This means that as a single mum, you have to be deliberate at being disciplined for assured results in both developing a grounded child and making it in your career. Despite time limitation, successful single mums recognise the importance of personal care which guarantees emotional and mental health.
This entails personal grooming, and intentionally seeking to have a healthy spiritual, emotional, vocational and social life. As such, you should make sure you cultivate networks of people whom you can call upon for help and emotional support.
Hiring a full-time help is a big bonus as this will provide you with much-needed extra help as well as allow you some time off. Your ayah is your ‘back up’ or ‘supplementary’ when you are not there to take care of your child.
Prof Catherine Gachutha, PhD; is the Director, Kenya Institute of Business and Counselling Studies (KIBCo). Email DN2Parenting@ke.nationmedia.com