Sunday, May 2, 2010

Is it smart to juggle work and family?

You’ve talked about being a full-time mother versus having a full-time career. Give us your view of a woman handling both responsibilities simultaneously. Is it doable, and is it smart?

Some women are able to maintain a busy career and a bustling family at the same time, and they do it beautifully. I admire them for their discipline and dedication.
It has been my observation, however, that this dual responsibility is a formula for exhaustion and frustration for many others. It can be a never-ending struggle for survival. Why? Because there is only so much energy within the human body, and when it is invested in one place it is not available for use in another.
Consider what it is like to be a mother of young children who must rise early in the morning, get her kids dressed, fed and sent to the child-care centre or babysitter for the day, then drive to work, labour from 9am-5pm (or later), go by the grocery store and pick up some stuff for dinner, retrieve the kids from the child-care centre or the babysitter, and then drive home. She is dead tired by that point and needs to put up a feet for a few minutes. But she can’t rest. The kids are hungry and they’ve been waiting to see her all day.
This tired woman then begins another four to six hours of very demanding “mothering” and household chores that will extend into the evening. And even if she does have a domestic helper, she may still not get her rest if she wants to spend time catering to her children’s needs.
You might ask the married woman, “Where is your husband and father in all this exertion? Why isn’t he carrying his fair share?” Well, he may be working a 15-hour day at his own job. Getting started in a business or a profession often demands that kind of commitment. Or he may simply choose not to help his wife. That is a common complaint among working mothers.
“Not fair,” you say.
I agree, but that’s the way the system often works.
Admittedly I have painted a more stressful scenario than most families have to endure. But perhaps not by much. Overcommitted and frazzled families are commonplace in our culture. Husbands and wives may have little time for each other. Life may be nothing more than work, work, work.
The issue, then, is not whether a woman should choose a career and be a mother, too. Of course, she has that right, and it is nobody’s business but hers and her husband’s.
I would simply plead that you not allow your family to get sucked into the black hole of exhaustion. However you choose to divide your responsibilities of working and family management, reserve some time and energy for yourselves – and for each other. Your children deserve the best you can give them, too.
This article was written by Focus on the Family Malaysia ( and the Questions and Answers are extracted from “Complete Family and Marriage Home Reference Guide” by Dr James Dobson with permission.
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