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7 key ways women can effectively build a professional career while running a family

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According to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources, women make up 44.94% of labour force in Nigeria as at 2019. It can be estimated that more than half of this number of working women are wives and mothers. This is quite impressive and shows an appreciable increase in the number of working women and working mothers to compared to what was seen two decades ago.  However. The rise in the number of working women and mothers also increased some of the problems working wives/mothers faced both at home and at work. In fact, some of these problems remain largely unattended to in the Nigerian society.

In our world today, especially in the corporate world, where competitive nature is prevalent, a lot of women have risen career-wise and have carved a niche for themselves. Some of the career choices they made has put so many of them in a state of dilemma. i.e. juggling between their work as well as their family life, thereby making it difficult for them to strike a balance.

In addition, many husbands, especially in Nigeria where patriarchy is strong do not support the idea of their wives working. A few who buy the idea, do so grudgingly, thereby, not offering their full support and cooperation to their wives.  This, however, has made a lot of relationships suffer.

Contrary to the above, many men give their wives full consent to work, pursue their dreams and professions. In Nigeria, there is an indication that most working mothers/wives are working not just for self-fulfilment but also to supplement their husband’s income in the face of persistent inflation and to assist their spouse financially.

A lot of people find it difficult balancing the strike i.e. their career and family, leading to some having to quit their jobs. Nevertheless, there are some women who, over the years were able to balance their professional careers with that of their family, and these women have become source of inspiration to so many women finding it difficult to strike the balance. And they are the likes of Oby Ezekwesili, Folorunso Alakija, Aisha Ahmed, Ibukun Awosika, Toyin Sanni, Ebelechukwu Nwachukwu and so many other women striving in their area of specialization.

According to Mrs. Ebelechukwu Nwachukwu(MD/CEO, NSIA Insurance Company Limited) in an exclusive interview with the Amazons Watch Magazine editorial team, she said that “balancing work with family life is quiet challenging to achieve but is very achievable. I think women more than men need to realize that it is essential to start early to focus on a desired career and we need to stay the course when marriage and children come. We do not have time to play around or to waste, and we must stay motivated and not burn out. Women, by starting early would already have set a pace, before family life comes in. Even when you don’t start early; women must realize that many times, we need to do more. We must stay the course”

According to Ibukun Awosika (Chairman Firstbank Nigeria) “In life, you decide on those things that are important to you, because as a woman I have all my visions and dreams and I want to achieve them. I want to also be a successful mother to my children and I want to be a successful wife to my husband; once I am able to balance it up, it will make a successful home. All we need is understanding. And we need a balanced home to have the right atmosphere. I also apply wisdom most of the time because the day my children matter most to me, I create time for them. The day it is my husband that matters, I create the time. The same goes for my work. If not, everything will crumble and that is why I need to measure the percentage of attention I give to them and that is why I can’t advise another woman on how to run her family because it is your circumstances that determine your kind of action; my home is different from any other home. I am happy to be married to the best man.”

Here are the 7 ways to help make sure both your career and your family flourish:

Having a supportive spouse is key to balance

Having a supportive spouse is key to balancing your career and family because he will assist in the responsibilities of taking care of the family. Having a supportive spouse will enable you reach your career height. They go as far as being supportive of their pursuits to seek higher education thereby supporting them financially, morally, emotionally and otherwise.

Though at times some when overwhelmed might grumble about a woman’s dedication to her job, however, as a woman the best way to resolve this concern is by being diplomatic. Nevertheless, when your spouse is being supportive, it is still imperative to give them top priority and also tend to their needs.

Planning and time management is crucial

Good planning and time management are crucial to balancing career and family. A lot of people are faced with the challenges of taking care of their young children/ pursuing their careers. Some will plan it in a way that they will pursue postgraduate degrees or career advancement when their children are older.

Also, when planning and managing time, figure out your family’s priorities. Have a calendar that includes dates when bills are due, a list of school and family events, extracurricular activities, birthdays, and more. It is always recommended to use a Google calendar, which can be easily shared and synced on smartphones. Set aside 15 minutes each Sunday to review and prepare for the upcoming week’s schedule. This helps eliminate surprises during the week. Also, have a time put in place to take care of yourself by going to a spa and exercising (like a yoga class). Remember to eat well and get enough rest. These are simple things a lot of working mothers/wives’ neglect.

Be focus and work hard

This is specifically true for women who want to compete for leadership positions and elevate higher in their careers. For you to get to that position you have to be focused and work so hard to avoid your gender being a hindrance to your success. There is often pressure from employers on women to convince them that their loyalties lie at work and not at home, since working mothers might not be able to afford to spend extra hours doing overtime or other work-related activities which can jeopardize their family. The best way to meet up with all the expectations is to be focused and work super hard. Multitasking will aid you to achieve your goals. Avoid time-wasting, casual internet browsing, gossiping, and long lunches. All these things cause distractions and make you less productive.

Hire a good house help/nanny  

When trying to balance a professional career with family, it is advisable to hire someone that will take care of your children. You may decide to employ a house help/nanny or even invite a family member, like your mother/mother-in-law to come around and take care of your kid(s).

When hiring a help/nanny it is always imperative to do a background check of the person you are bringing inside your home so you wouldn’t end up creating a problem for yourself and for your family. Go for someone that has excellent experience and is adaptable to kids of various age range; caring for newborns and older children who need homework help.

The house help could cover the necessary functions, such as cooking, laundry, cleaning, and taking care of the children while both parents are at work. It is imperative to show your house help love so they can reciprocate and take good care of your children when you are at work.

 Find quality creche for you kids

Using a Creche (for toddlers) is a good way of balancing your work and family for those that do not want to hire a nanny/house-help. There are some inexpensive schools you can enroll your kids, where they will receive proper care. Having them enroll in Creche will give you ample time to focus on your job and grow your career. You and your spouse can reshuffle on how you both can go for school runs. Choosing a Creche is not something you carelessly pick out and move on, the reason being that leaving your child in the care of others is a major act and needs your utmost attention. Before choosing a Creche it is important to take note of their services and leave room for evaluation to be sure they are in good hands.

Go for online courses

Getting an education is very important to a lot of women as it enables them to achieve higher leadership positions. Having a successful career has to do with furthering your education, whether through degrees or certifications.

For this to be feasible, since you are trying to balance your career and that of your family, it is advisable to venture into online professional courses/online Master/PHD courses. Going into online courses will give you sufficient time to take care of your family and also aid in self-development which is a good ladder to enable you climb faster in your career.

Create a family time

Making time for your kids is crucial, both during the week and on the weekends, to nurture your family dynamic and allow everyone to bond. Always create family time, like having a family breakfast and family weekend. The family weekend covers going to the movies/amusement parks.  When you are having family time, avoid talking about work or checking your phone. Instead, focus on your kids’ interests by asking questions about their friends, classes, and hobbies. With older children, ask for their activity suggestions and try to meet their needs.

In conclusion, being a full-time working mother can lead to feelings of guilt and stress because of divided attention between work and family. The key is to be focus on a plan, get organized, and find the right balance between profession and parenthood.

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