“How much money do you deserve, Mom?”
Women taking a career break for maternity find it difficult to get back on their financial and professional trajectory. An inadequate legal framework, a lack of support infrastructure and not to forget- social obligations – prove to be hindrances on the path. But is the mindset of us mothers an invisible factor that holds us back?
Shirin sat down exhausted from the argument. She already had more than her hands full managing her job, young child and home. “We are already spending so much on the nanny, the pram is an unnecessary purchase now,” her husband said. She felt guilty for just bringing it up.
Guilt, as a mother knows too well, is a constant companion. The guilt of not being a good enough mother, the guilt of not staying ‘long enough’ at work. And the other guilt that we don’t discuss as much – that of not contributing enough to the income pool at home. As professional women, we like the independence that our money gives us and when that stops, there are many side effects, some known and others not so much.
As mothers, we likely don’t spend on ourselves as freely or put our own priorities before everyone else’s. Blame the image we have seen over and over, of a caring sacrificial mother who lovingly gives away her share of a cake to her child and somehow seems happier. Once we turn mothers we are rarely seen as anything else.
Perhaps, you have had instances like Shirin’s at your home. Whether we are told so explicitly or we curb our own expenditure, mothers tiptoe around money even more. Yours truly is no exception, where the most ridiculous instance was to resist buying a cappuccino at the airport when in transit. I always had a kid or two in tow, and flights were exhausting. I would really want that five minutes to relax with a proper cappuccino, but almost never bought it. To avoid the hassle of changing a large rupee note or simply the mentality of not buying something ‘unnecessary’ at the airport for myself.
All this likely stems from the idea, that by taking a break, we have become a liability in the family. We tend to forget that having a child was a joint decision and that the time and effort you put in to bring up your child is also ‘work’.
Negative ideas aside, the good news is that with any problem that arises in our mind the solution lies right there. Here are some things that you can do to change your situation;
A person before a mother
Enjoy the joys of motherhood, but when self-doubt or guilt creeps in, leave them outside your door. Sure motherhood is a great phase, but it alone cannot define you, and neither are you born with all the skills to handle it. It takes a village to raise a child. Make sure you use your support system. Enjoy your ‘me’ time, not as a luxury but as a necessity.
Negotiate for a deal you deserve
Women can lose 43 % of their earning potential with extended breaks. Apart from other factors, one thing a good salary depends on is negotiating right. If the potential employer thinks you are right for the job, your career break is no reason to settle for a discounted figure. Here are six essential tips to negotiate a job offer.
Plan for it
Ok, you have been taking walks and eating well – all for the baby. But how are you preparing yourself? If you are taking a break, explore if you can do a course to upskill yourself. What is the reading and upkeep you can do about your area of expertise? Once you are able, freelancing and taking part-time jobs are a viable option across many sectors. That is If you don’t want to something full time. An aspect you can work on beforehand is investing your savings, so you have a corpus that will support you through the lean income period.
So this Mother’s Day, make sure you enjoy all the gifts and special treatment you get. But treat yourself in the same special way the rest of the year – as a person. Because if you don’t think you deserve it, who will?
Happy Mother’s Day!