Career women across different sectors talk about juggling multiple roles, battling mummy guilt, the proverbial work-life balance, and enjoying the best of two worlds.
Importance of creating artificial boundaries
Life as a working mother has been very exciting. Motherhood makes you realise that as mothers, we hold immense power from giving the best to our child to managing family and work. I believe that there is a super mum in all of us. Nature has built us in a way that we are multi-tasking experts by birth. All we need to do is set goals, chase our dreams and define success on our own terms.
A woman is also often described as a multi-tasking expert, nurturer and someone who bring things together. A lot is expected out of women both at the personal as well as professional life. With the birth of my son, I realised the importance of creating ‘artificial boundaries’. This boundaries are extremely important to strike the perfect work-life balance.
The birth of my son coincided with a massive growth period at Byju’s. The R&D was going on for the K-12 Product and there were video modules to be recorded. This moment called on me to show my resilience and multi-tasking capabilities that I didn’t know I possessed it till then. Setting up artificial boundaries for myself helped me channelise, compartmentalise and prioritise the to-do list for the day. Setting your priorities right is the best way to harness the best at work as well as home.
Additionally, what helped me was keeping an eye on what was ‘important to me’, and not letting go of it. It is also important to remember that it is not a solo act. I was fortunate enough to have an excellent support system in the form of my family, colleagues and friends too.
Divya Gokulnath, Co-founder - Byju’s
100 percent focus on any task
The learning has been incredible and it has taught me that structure isn’t limited to just the workplace while freedom isn’t only applicable to my home. By incorporating structure into my home life and freedom into my work life, I find I get a lot of things done – and done well. Life as a working mum calls for 100 percent focus on any task, whether at home or the office and learning to manage time, people and efficiently prioritise what you’re doing. I have the best of both worlds and would never sacrifice one for the other.
Rati Shetty, Co-founder & CPO - BankBazaar
Most fulfilling experience ever
It is undoubtedly one of the most fulfilling experiences ever. I believe that one of the greatest gifts a mother can gift a child is allowing the child to see how passion and purpose can play out. There is enough research and studies today to show the benefits of a working mother on the outlook of her children. I think we should stop asking this question, or be fair and ask it to the fathers in our society as well. Also too many mums who don’t have their own passion and purpose have an increased dependency on their child as their passion and purpose. This becomes increasingly damaging as the child gets older.
Lina Ashar, Founder - Kangaroo Kids Education
Raising a family is a two-way street
Being a working mum is a challenge in itself. As a woman, society expects you to constantly keep up with a whole variety of responsibilities. Let's admit it, being a mother is not everyone's cup of tea. You can be a stay-at-home mum or a working mum, either way being a mother is hard. What we often forget is that hard doesn't equate to bad. Yes, hard is challenging but it is also worth it. I love my work as much as I love my family and no, I will not feel apologetic about it. To all the working mothers out there, remember that raising a family is a two-way street. You and your husband are in this marriage together. Distribute the responsibility the way it works best for your family. Stop worrying about others and remember that with true love and support from your family as one single unit, you will do just fine as a working mother!
Rakhee Vaswani - Celebrity Chef
Being a working mum is just a part of life
Life as a mum is work, so the question of a working mum implies that a homemaker is not a career woman and this is not true. Is it possible to have two careers: One as a homemaker and one as anything else? Yes! The question is how do I bring the two together so I can balance it well to achieve both my objectives, 1) happy kids 2) happy mama.
To achieve both one has to get your spouse to chip in. Those who know me and Raman very often comment, "You are lucky to have a husband like Raman." This sentence saddens me because it implies he is an anomaly rather than the norm and that must change. My life as a working mum, is as it should be, just a part of life.
A career in films and advertising can be stressful at times. For me my children are my stress busters, my happy place. One hug and I am reinvigorated.
Tiring as it may, working in cinema meant taking my children to work and this has made my children very aware, hardworking and naturally inclined to find their own talents. I have gone late to the hospital when I was in labour as I was in a meeting. I have breas fed the baby while editing. My husband has rehearsed for fashion shows with my daughter on his shoulders, as he walked the ramp. But that was my upbringing too, on film shoots with my mother and today I am a businesswoman with my own very successful advertising production house and a creative, writer-director too. If you make it happen for yourself, things somehow fall into place.
Shona Urvashi , Founding Partner - Twism Design Productions
Rewards far outweigh the pitfalls
Women, especially working mothers, often talk about trying to achieve the perfect ‘work-life balance’. It is indeed a hard battle that every working mother has had to face at some point or the other. However, I believe that it’s not about striking some utopian equilibrium, but giving your current role your 100 percent each time. When I’m at work, I’m a businesswoman and an entrepreneur, and I give that role my best; when I am at home, I’m a doting mother and that remains my focus. Of course, it is easier said than done, but I find this less daunting than the formidable ‘work-life balance’ conversation.
I think all working mothers have battled with the thought of being inadequate at some point or the other, and I am no different. However, I do value how much my entrepreneurial career has helped imbibe certain intrinsic values in my children – they display a strong sense of independence, adapt to risk-taking easily and continue to desire new experiences with a sense of awe. Being a working parent has its own ups and downs, but in the long run, I believe the rewards far outweigh the pitfalls, and in the end, I feel it’s completely worth it.”
Priti Rathi Gupta, Managing Director & Promoter - Anand Rathi Share & Stock Brokers Ltd
There are tough spots too
Motherhood is marked by a period of great change, quite unlike any other personal milestone. For me the birth of my daughter brought with it some serious re-prioritisation too - a supportive workplace and colleagues who are sensitive about the recalibration in your life make return to challenging work easy. I have been lucky to have that as well as a supportive family. However at different stages of my daughter's life and basis her requirements and also mine - I have had to take some tough calls as well. Some of them I am thankful for, for they gave me an opportunity to step back and then get back into the world of work renewed and some of those periods also allowed me to explore the entrepreneur in me. There are definite tough spots too, where you want to give up on the juggling but most of them leave you stronger, wiser and surprised!
So looking back, today I have my daughter to thank for, for the rich tapestry of professional life that her presence created. I would keep most of it unchanged if I had the opportunity to go back.
Bidisha Nagaraj, CMO - Schneider Electric India
Not a single dull moment
Being a new mum is challenging enough as it is and when you add a responsibility of running a business along with that it just becomes even more fun. There's not a single dull moment in my life.
Dealing with such a wide range of problems together really gives one a different kind of perspective and strength. For example, filing GST seems like an easy problem after dealing with a major diaper explosion.
Finding a perfect nanny would really care about your baby is quite similar to finding the right jewellery designer who would really care about your customers.
Dr Garima Singh, Co-founder and CEO - BlingVine.com
Be prepared to make difficult decisions
I am usually asked how do I manage and juggle between career and family. Well I do not think that managing family and career are “mutually exclusive” but yes one has to prioritise and be prepared to make difficult decisions. Time management plays an important role especially when children are involved. But, it is never possible without a strong support system in place. A supporting husband is a working mothers’ backbone and for me, my husband’s support towards work as well as our home life is invaluable. We work together and so it is easy for us to swap roles at home and at work. So, the larger credit goes to Rishi.
Being a mother of two and an entrepreneur managing IndiQube I don’t get to spend as much time with my children Ananya (age 12) and Siddharth (age 8) as I would like but, I try to make sure I balance it out when I am with them taking them for family outings together on weekends.
Prioritising, as mentioned before, is another important aspect of finding this balance. This balancing act has indeed taught me patience, efficient time management and most importantly, how to stay grounded and calm amidst growing chaos.
There have been moments that were cringe-worthy but it has always helped me take things in stride and laugh it out. In fact, I feel that my experiences at home and with my children have helped me grow both personally and professionally. Accomplishing more in less time, learning to do things differently and more often the ability to have a positive approach towards my work commitments are the manifestation of what I learn every day with my kids. We should take personal time out for our own sanity and learn to build the support system that works for us and our family.
Develop an excellent team both at work and home who will help you achieve your goals, one day at a time. It’s always teamwork. The more we enable others to do things and learn to let go of the not so critical ones, we will be in a better position to function at ease.”
Meghna Agarwal, Co-founder and COO - IndiQube.
Mums are efficient power machines
To me, being a working mother while being extremely tough is also a boon in a way. Motherhood is a course in efficiency, multi-tasking and crisis management. I see mums as these very efficient power machines; if you are looking for productivity at its best, go hire a mom!
As a CMO, I spend 10 action-packed hours at work every day, 6 days a week. And hence what matters is the quality of the few hours before and after work I have with my two-and-a-half-year old son Avyay. Whether it's creating your little rituals or doing a crazy dance jig with him to de-stress at the end of the day, it's important you find your own way to bond. I also try and keep Sunday as family day and give my kid that extra time and new experiences. In fact, I don't think I would've been so focused on the quality of time with the kid if I were a stay-at-home mom.
Another big support in the life of a working mother is her own moms. Both my mother and mother-in-law have been working women and I'm extremely blessed to have them come down and support me with raising my kid. Most women in India drop out of their jobs because of lack of child support. What India needs today to get more moms back into the workforce is affordable day care and eliminating the taboo around working women not making good mothers. “
Vyoma Pandit, Joint CMO - Shriram Properties
Great support system
The advantage I had when I started working that I was 44 years old and both my daughters were married. My son was in the 12th standard and was supportive, so it was not that I had young kids to take care of. Having said that the challenge was that as time went by I got really engrossed into work so my interaction with my daughters got really affected. My son (Gautam Gupta) was helping me while studying so we were still together but with the other two children, there were days when I couldn’t be there for them right from their anniversaries to when they became mothers. Though they never complained, and continued to support me, I regret missing out on some precious memories.
Asha Gupta, Designer - ashagautam
Being a mother of twin daughters has been the toughest yet the most cherished decision of my life. Been an active adventure enthusiastic and a marketing professional, balancing work-family and personal life turned out to be a challenge initially but family’s support and my determination to be on my own played instrumental role in getting back to my job. While playing a key role to retain the leadership position and achieving new milestones for Pressto, I ensured my kids get the required attention. As a mother, I learnt to look at things differently, with the whole new emotional approach which definitely helps in my creative thinking as a marketing professional.
Priyanka Dhavan-Nair, Brand Manager, Pressto
Flexi-time makes life easier
I had done my Masters in Bioinformatics from Stella Maris college (Chennai) and PGDBA(HR) from Mount Carmel College (Bangalore). Soon after which, I got married and settled in Bengaluru. I was a happy mother of a baby girl. However badly I wanted to kick start my career, I had my priorities clearly set.
My daughter was my first priority, and hence, I wanted some work that would give me the liberty of choosing how much and when to work. So, it was quite clear that I had to be self-employed and will have to give up on a career as Bioinformatician or HR professional.
In the meanwhile, I realised my passion and potential as an interior designer while doing my own home. Also, on observing the real estate boom that was sweeping the city that time, I decided to pursue interior designing as a freelancer. The moment I finished my course at INIFD in June 2015, I landed on a Facebook advertisement by HomeLane flashing 'Design Partner Program' which looked too good to be true. After attending their orientation, I felt as if someone had just read my mind. I soon signed up for the programme and was very happy to be on board.
I would visit client's site only in the company of 2 of my male team mates and only during day hours, never later than 4pm. I also have the flexibility of taking client meetings online through SpaceCraft (HomeLane’s virtual design platform). I visit the showroom just once a week for design discussion with clients and rest of the time I work from home to meet deadlines. This wonderful arrangement gives me ample time to spend with my lovely daughter who I enjoy taking out for some fun activity or the other every single day along with earning well for myself.
Anita Uvraj, Design Partner – HomeLane
There are good days and bad days
Being a new mum, I have an immense respect for all the working mothers out there! Making it to work after sleepless nights, trying to focus while stressing about how hard it is to find the right kind of help, and putting your game face on despite the physical and mental toll motherhood takes - it’s superhuman!
As I transition myself back to the workplace, I’ve quickly learnt that saying it’s difficult for mums to juggle family and work is an understatement! There are good days and bad days. Advance and intense planning does go a long way towards balancing the two worlds, but the best laid plans can fall apart because of an upset tummy or a fever.
Rachel Goenka, Founder & CEO - The Chocolate Spoon Company Private Limited
It's all about choices
It’s been a blessed and amazing journey. Every experience of our life is very exponential in nature. And motherhood is one splendid one for me from that point of view. I have had a beautiful experience as a working professional and mother of two kids. The energy level, purity, optimism and excitement which kids showcase, is indeed infectious and in my case, I could really reflect that intake in my professional life. Kids emanate loads of positive energy and my idea has always been to carry that energy with me to office as well.
I can’t say that it is always a smooth ride, however, it is all about striking a good balance. Life offers you myriad of experiences and choices, it is all about what you choose to take. And being a mother is great accomplishment and I owe a lot of gratitude to my kids for giving me this experience.
Geeta Khurana, Global Head – Transformation, Denave
Battle with the silent scream of guilt
Enriching and exhausting! Juggling back-to-back meetings and endless responsibilities of a growing child requires special skills.
Though I always knew I wanted to be a working mother, nothing could have prepared me for the loss of equilibrium and the craziness that followed.
The trick lies in the battle with the silent scream of guilt. I have slept during my daughter, Aratrika’s annual functions (of course after her act), because I had burnt the midnight oil the past week. I have made my daughter practise math during our most exotic vacations on the beach-side.
Yet, at the end of it all, it has always been fun. The wonderful friends I made at work, the satisfaction I get from my career and above everything else, I know I am setting the right example for my daughter, who is as proud of me as I am of her. I love being a working mum!
Garima Sharda, Associate Design Manager, NXP Semiconductors
- Lina Ashar
- Priti Rathi Gupta
- Meghana Agarwal
- Rachel Goenka
- Anita Uvraj
- Divya Gokulnath