Every māmā knows that there is a level of guilt with almost everything you do that doesn‘t directly involve your pēpi. I feel for those māmā who don‘t have the option to work from home and there is no judgment here if that is a decision you have made for whatever reason. The decision to return to work or not is huge for any whānau. You have to weigh up your career progression, financial situation, time, care for your pēpi, and sometimes your own mental health. We were lucky enough to have the option to work from home but it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses. Many māmā will be experiencing the mahi from home struggle in this lockdown period so it feels timely to share my experience to date.
There seems to be loads online at the moment to do with older tamariki but our younger babies need attention too. My son was 3 months old when I picked up my first work assignment. I am very lucky that my mahi can be done remotely and to have a supportive mentor. At 3 months old my return to work involved an adjustment period but there wasn’t much to tease out as there were no tantrums and we had a nap routine that was working. We found a good chair with a recliner and I was able to set my laptop up on my knee so I could type over him while feeding. At 6 months this same position still works, just slightly less often. The first big obstacle was finding working hours to make phone calls to clients and stakeholders without a noisy pēpi in the background. There is already a bias against working mums and working from home so I didn’t need a crying baby in the background to tarnish my professionalism. Despite there being huge value in teaching your pēpi independent play and seeing their māmā working hard, you may feel guilty about being behind a laptop screen when you could or should be playing with them. I definitely did.
You may make the decision to leave it all until they are asleep at night. This will bring with it another set of challenges as you will have to balance your relationship with your partner and your mahi. Even if you manage to finish early enough to spend some time with your partner then you may feel exhausted from the juggling act. My mahi can sometimes involve some very heavy topics which adds another layer because it can take some time to unload that mamae before I can reenter normalcy enough to have a conversation with my partner and give our relationship some awhi.
As my son has got older balancing the housework and mahi has got harder because he has become a notorious catnapper who only wants to nap on me. That doesn’t allow for much time to do either. If I am lucky I will have set my laptop up in reach and can sneak in a short snippet of work while he naps on my shoulder. I have to be careful not to make any sudden movements that may wake him but now at almost 7 months old we have mastered the art of one handed typing.
I don’t know if I will ever get the balance just right, but I know that I love my pēpi and my mahi and that eventually everything gets done. Sometimes the house might be a mess, my hair might miss a wash, but we are all fed, sheltered and loved. He won’t remember that there were dishes on the bench if his puku is full and his māmā made time to play. If you‘re currently struggling through the mahi from home grind, remember you got this māmā!
Ps. His poor folded ear from feeding and being tucked into my arm. Any other pēpi get the ear fold?