An email from a reader of this column requested that I write about how I survive Cebu’s traffic situation while raising three children and maintaining a full-time job.
The answer is: Remote work. Or being employed by a company which allows remote work. This is especially helpful for a working mother who has to hurdle daily traffic problems and the responsibilities required of her as a professional.
I understand that I am one of the privileged few to experience this at this stage of my career. Other Mommy friends are not as lucky. Not a day goes by that I do not encounter a mother who feels guilty about spending more than 10 hours a day away from her children to work and then spend at least two hours for travel time from home to workplace, and then another two hours traveling from workplace to home.
That’s four hours of wasted time spent on the roads that could have been spent for work had the mother-employee been allowed to work from home.
Working from home on certain days of the week allows me to be a present parent to my children. I can cook breakfast for them. I can play with them. I can eat dinner with them. I can read them bedtime stories. I have three children below six years old and spending time with them is the most crucial part of their development in their growing up years.
Parenting is a tough task as it is and being in a company that understands the value of family takes away my Mommy guilt, which every mother suffers. Correct me if I am wrong but mothers always have the tendency to feel that we are not doing enough. We always wish that we have more time for our children or that we can do more in helping them out with their homeworks and school projects.
But often times, work gets in the way.
In a world that is increasingly becoming digital, companies should look into the possibility of allowing their employees to do remote work. Set guidelines for employees to deliver certain tasks on days that they are allowed to do remote work. Especially for output-based jobs, this can be very helpful. I have always believed that it is not about the length or quantity of time that you spent for a task; it’s about the depth and quality of time that you allocate in fulfilling the task.
I have to be honest though. Working from home with children can be a challenge with screaming and running children all around you. Hence, it is important to have a home office. It does not need to be the elaborate kind, furnished with office table and swivel chair. All you need is a corner or space that you can call your own so you have a working area that puts you in a work mindset.
For employees allowed to do remote work, it sure does feel convenient when you can work in your pyjamas. But that seldom works for me. Even when I am at home working, I maintain a routine so the quality of my work does not suffer. I wake up at 5:30 a.m. or even earlier to prepare myself for the responsibilities ahead of me.
I do this because remote work is not just about working in your pyjamas. It requires discipline; lots and lots of discipline.
Along with this discussion on the advantages of remote work is a current issue that my Mommy friends and I face.
I was raised by a woman whose full-time job was to make sure that four children are fed, dressed and did well in school. I was a stay-at-home Mom. After doing that for almost four years in two foreign countries in five different addresses and then evolving into a working mother thereafter, I have seen both scenarios from two lenses.
Sadly, there exists a kind of Mommy war where there are stay-at-home mothers who judge working mothers for not spending enough time with their children; while there are working mothers who judge the worth of stay-at-home mothers just because they do not earn their own money and are often dependent to their partners.
There’s really no point of taking sides here. We all have our own crosses to bear. We never know what the other is going through so best to practice a culture of respect and compassion.
As a new school year begins for our children, I wish my fellow mothers to remember to take care of themselves in between cooking, doing the laundry, budgeting, working and sending the kids to school.
Don’t let yourself wallow in stress and too much work. Get a beer and drink it bottoms up on nights when the mutants are asleep and the house is quiet.
You deserve it.
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