Rocking the Cradle – When Women Work When mothers go to work, children bear the brunt

Rock-a-by baby
On the treetop,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And down will fall, baby
Cradle and all.

I was in the nursery when I learned the above nursery rhyme. Like most kids, I had a very vivid imagination. In my mind’s eye I could vividly see ‘the baby in a cradle, the bough breaking and the baby falling’.  All I could think about was – the baby’s mother must be at work. And the negligent maid-servant did not care what happened to the poor helpless baby.

Rocking the Cradle – When Women  Work
Children of working mothers have to cope with the hectic schedules of their mothers

Privileged Women Writing About Work-Mothering Balance

Recently, Ivanka Trump released a self-help bookWomen Who Work for women to negotiate the challenges of home and work.  Honestly, can Ivanka actually know the challenges most women face when they decide to or have to work, leaving their kids daycare?  From her lofty palace, she can order the best child care resources to help her maintain her busy schedule.  What she writes about is only for the privileged few. Those that can afford high-quality carers and support staff.

These do not represent even 1% of the population.  The resources at her disposal are on the call chauffeurs, nannies, cooks, cleaners, maids, and other specialists, money being of no constrain. So, how does the common woman negotiate to have it all – career and babies.

I was lucky while I was growing up, there was the extended family of grandparents and an assortment of relatives and known neighbors.  Someone was there to keep an eye on you and your maid.  My grandmother although she was not very fond of us, took pleasure in keeping tabs on our live-in-maid while my mother was at work. Which was a good thing, because the maid had gotten into the habit of locking my brother and myself at home and going off to meet her friend working nearby.  Being kids we did not complain, but my mother got the news via you know who, and the maid was sent packing.

Coping With Unreliable Daycare

I have been a working mom not by choice really, I was forced to return to work post the death of my son’s father. Thus, my 3-year-old son began his baby-sitter trail – carers who had no real interest in him except for the money he brought.  The first baby sitter was all right but did not like kids getting dirty, from having the freedom to play as he wished, he had to be careful he did not dirty himself or else he would have it, this blunted his sense of exploration.  On to baby sitter no.2   who was loving but had a daughter a little older who would get jealous when her mother paid attention to my son. The girl would retaliate by kicking him when no one was looking.

Baby-sitters Cannot Be Trusted

Another sitter promised she would get my son ready for school and give him food on time. Her adult son would shout and smack my 6-year-old son when he struggled to get himself ready for school, not bothering to help.  My son kept quiet like most kids do, thinking he was the bad one. After nearly 6 months of coping he finally shared his anxiety of going there. He even said that they would threaten a 2-year child in their care by putting her in the washing machine. Can a 2-year old express what is happening to her?

On to the next babysitter who would make him run errands like going to the shop to buy things and have him keep watch on her 4-year-old daughter when they went to play. He was supposed to be responsible for her safety.

Watching this video reminds me of the time I had to leave behind my weepy son and go to work. How I wanted to stay back and take care of him.

Better Child-care Options

Frustrated, I began exploring for better options and searched for jobs that were child friendly. Thankfully I found a job in a residential school. My son studied, while I worked in the same place, plus we lived on the campus so no more babysitters. I was available anytime; it was the perfect work-life balance. Having me close at hand helped him become an easy-going and confident person.  I am grateful for a job that allowed me to be in close proximity but also gave him the freedom to explore.

Why You Need To Hold On To Your Kids

Gordon Neufeld in his book Hold On to Your Kids has this advice for parents:

“The key to activating maturation is to take care of the attachment needs of the child. We help a child let go by providing more contact and connection than he himself is seeking. When he asks for a hug, we give him a warmer one than he is giving us. We liberate children not by making them work for our love but by letting them rest in it. We help a child face the separation involved in going to sleep or going to school by satisfying his need for closeness.”

When women work, a child is denied the optimal environment to mature and flourish. Unless, they have other caring and supportive carers, beginning with a hands-on father. Unfortunately, even that is rare for most women these days with single parenting. Moreover, with more and more mental health issues in young teens becoming the norm should we ignore the real reason for this? Being a successful career woman is an admirable achievement but don’t let it be at the cost of your child’s well-being.

Image Source: Pixabay

Further Reading:

Time-in Parenting –  Otto Weininger

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