Work-Life Balance: Challenges of Modern Working Mother

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Many people struggle with finding a balance between work and life. Family, work, health, leisure, and personal growth are important, but it is challenging to find the right mix to succeed in all spheres. We often put more energy into certain areas of life, leaving none for other areas. Imbalance leads to stress and frustration. For women, keeping this balance is even harder.

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In our evolving world, the image of the modern woman is multifaceted. Diverse in every aspect, women today take on various roles, seamlessly transitioning between being daughters, sisters, mothers, wives, aunts, nieces, friends, as well as employers, employees, and colleagues. Yet, one of the most significant challenges faced by the modern woman, especially when they face motherhood and have to choose between family and work, is the delicate task of achieving a harmonious work-life balance. 

Aisha Mukasheva.

Personal life, health, and relaxation are left out of the scope when a woman is trying to balance between her work and family responsibilities. She has no time for it at all. For her, relaxation is a shift in activities: at work, she takes a break from family responsibilities, and at home, she seeks respite from professional duties.

Balancing professional commitments with family responsibilities is a significant challenge, often leading to conflicting interests. Unlike professional skills taught in schools, the ability to balance the intricate roles of a wife, mother, and a dedicated professional is seldom addressed in education systems. Perhaps this is a part of the Soviet legacy that empowered women to become part of the labor force because the country needed workers to uplift themselves. The institution of family underwent changes, with women starting to work and contribute financially, but at the same time, household matters of maintaining comfort at home continued to be associated with women in society’s perception. Stereotypes in society can worsen this situation, causing stress and depression as women try to meet the expectations of their various roles.

Working mothers, in particular, face a distinctive set of challenges in the professional arena. Biases against their commitment to work, assumptions about their inability to work late or during weekends, and the potential for frequent absences due to family responsibilities can make them restrictive in the recruiting process, contributing to their stress and frustration. The delicate juggling act between work and maternity, compounded by societal norms and workplace expectations, can result in difficult decisions for women striving to excel in both spheres. 

Having been a working mother in the civil service, I can personally attest to the struggles faced by women attempting to navigate the intricate balance between work and family. The societal norms and workplace expectations often clash with the realities of familial responsibilities, leading to difficult decisions for women who wish to excel both professionally and personally.

In my own journey, I confronted a critical turning point when I realized the need for change. A moment crystallized when I found myself at work late into the evening, anxious about picking up my son from kindergarten before closing time. Despite my experience, position, and dedication, I felt the need to reassess my life. I desired to keep earning money while spending less time at work, focusing more on my family, particularly my children.

The transition was met with skepticism from peers who believed that working less while continuing to earn was an impractical aspiration. Undeterred, I explored various career paths, realizing my strengths and addressing my weaknesses. This journey ultimately led me to a path that allowed me to excel professionally while affording me more time with my family. Beyond that, dealing with work and family conflicts, I became able to allocate time and resources for myself.

The concept of a work-life balance is subjective and ever-changing. It is not about finding a static equilibrium but about understanding one’s priorities at different life stages. As my children grew and needed less direct attention, my equilibrium point shifted. Now, my priorities may be different, and I am prepared to adjust the balance accordingly.

In sharing my story, the intent is not to prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution but to encourage women to listen to their inner feelings and identify areas of discomfort. Ignoring those feelings can lead to discontent and burnout. The key is to seek solutions and find a balance that aligns with priorities at any given moment. The journey to achieving a fulfilling work-life balance is about staying attuned to evolving needs and following one’s heart. In doing so, women can empower themselves to navigate the complexities of modern life, contribute meaningfully to their professional spheres, and nurture fulfilling personal lives.

Dedicated to all working moms…

The author is Aisha Mukasheva, a PhD student from the Nazarbayev University School of Public Policy. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Astana Times. 

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