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I was doing some research for a corporate presentation which I have just done. I was looking at the subject of work-life balance and discussing what it actually means and whether or not it is possible to achieve and maintain a perfect balance.


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Through my research I found many articles and posts which discuss the sacrifices that mothers have made, either in their family lives, professional lives of both.

Whilst it would be unrealistic to think that it is possible for anyone to have everything they want all of the time, I am a little disappointed that so many women talk of sacrifice.

Does being a stay at home mum mean that you have sacrificed your career? That you will never be able to reach the dizzy heights that you may have reached had you decided not to have children? And does being a full-time working mum mean that you have sacrificed precious time with your children and that you have missed out on many of their life defining moments whilst relentlessly climbing the career ladder?

Okay, so maybe that is looking at extremes and the reality is that most mums sit somewhere in-between the two. But does talking of sacrifices help us in anyway?

Would focussing on the benefits of our decisions not be more useful in stopping us loading ourselves up with another heavy dose of mother’s guilt?

Let us think about the stay at home mum. Someone who has decided to take time out of the workforce to raise her family herself. Surely this is an important job in itself. Building a secure and loving home for one’s children and allowing yourself the opportunity to learn the skills needs to be a great mum. As for your career, can we not even imagine that it can benefit from your time out of the workforce? Do the skills that you have learned as a stay at home mum not equip you well for your return. Do all your years of training, learning and experience just disappear because you have taken time out? I think not.

Believing that we have sacrificed our careers by taking time to be a stay at home mum can in fact become a self-perpetuating myth which we start to believe and then suffer from the resulting drop in confidence which can make us less employable.

And then we have the mum who returns to work full time. Think of the sacrifices she can be seen to be making. Not available to volunteer at school functions, missing milestones in her children’s lives through being at work, not being part of the mummy network. But how about we flip that and think about the positives. Can we consider those mums who struggle to stay at home? Their mental health will be boosted when they return to the workplace. What about the financial contribution that many mums make to their families, allowing them to travel the world and have many wonderful family experiences. What about the positive role models that these mums are to both their sons and daughters.

And rather than talking about sacrifice, we can celebrate the fact that we are all different and because of this we all make different decisions.

These different decisions are reached by working through the best choices and course of action for our families and the situations that we are in.

I haven’t even touched on part time working mothers, because if we take the negative approach and talk about what they have sacrificed, then it is surely a bit of everything. Instead I prefer to imagine that perhaps they have the best of both worlds.

Conversations about parental sacrifices unfortunately only seem to be applied to women, and very rarely do we hear the same discussions refer to fathers. How often do we hear of the sacrifice that a dad has made to work and earn a living for his family? And if a man takes parental leave then we often hear about what a wonderful dad and man he must be, rather than talking of the sacrifices he has made.

As with anything in life, focusing on the negatives when there are so very many positives of being a mum whether you work, stay home or do a bit of both, can be destructive and can easily detract from the amazing job that so many women are doing in working, raising a family and/or running a business.

We are all doing the best we can.

Do you have anything to add? Please share in the comments below.

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  • You can only do what is best for you and your family.

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  • I think it is a given that all parents both Mothers and Fathers make sacrifices when becoming parents, however to me it is a sacrifice worth while do there in lies the question if it is all worth while is it then really a sacrifice?? No… it is one of life’s great pleasures (not always easy) & parents can still have a work/home life balance. So your career might change directions but it could open doors to opportunities that you never had before.

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  • Parenting is so not a sacrifice. It’s the most amazing, albeit hard at times, experience in the whole world!
    Some mothers (who are seen to be sacrificing their kids for their career) often have no choice but to return to work so they can provide for their family. No one should judge without knowing the full story.

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  • Life is so precious and having children is something that can never be compared. People talk about sacrifice and can not wait until they can escape and go back to work. It is a fine balance between children and work, some people are better not to be full time mothers so it really depends on the family and individuals involved. The bottom line as long as the children are happy and well looked after then it is important for people to be at their best weather that be stay at home or go to work.

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  • My husband and I have had 6 kids, and its one of the greatest joys and biggest accomplishments of our lives. Molding new human beings to become a vibrant, healthy addition to the world is hard work, and at times the juggling act can be difficult, but the rewards so far outweigh the happiness, that it’s not even appearing on my scale. I can’t imagine the world without them. They have driven me, taught me, enlightened me, pushed me and loved me and my husband to no end. G-d protect them always

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  • It is tough being a parent and we certainly do make decisions for our kids that we may not otherwise have made. But in the end it’s totally worth it.

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  • so true your comments about dads. i had never thought about that before.

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  • I don’t think a sacrifice is necessarily a bad thing. My goal is to be the best parent I can be and to raise a healthy, well-adjusted child into adulthood. Any sacrifices I make to meet that end are well worth it.

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  • It is a hard job to be a parent regardless if you work or not. Im a stay at home mum and I have my crazy days where im pulling my hair out. I also know that some people are unable to have families and feel very lucky too be blessed with my very own family. In the end I wouldn’t have my life any other way.

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  • I agree we’re all doing the best we can and we need to be happy and comfortable with the decisions we make. Becoming a parent offers new and wonderful opportunities. I never imagined I’d spend time with my son and then work 3 days a week from home once he started school. I’ve loved this arrangement and have been very lucky to work with someone who has allowed me this balance. I don’t feel I have sacrificed anything, but have gained so much. I’ve had the best of both worlds.

    Reply

  • I think being a parent is hard work and at time may feel like we ‘sacrificed’ our careers but we live in an era where we can really have it all. It’s about finding a baksbe that works for you.

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  • I have done both – I was a stay at home mum till my last child was 7 due to having 4 children it was uneconomical to go to work. However when I did return to work, I had a better career than I could have originally dreamed of. So it can be done in both worlds if you stay looking at the positive side of things.

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  • I think it is a sacrifice in the way that you have to become very selfless when you are a parent. You often sacrifice your own feelings, wants, needs for those of your children.

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  • No, I don’t see it as a sacrifice, just as a choice.

    Reply

  • Some sacrifices are worth making. Everyone is different and there should be no judgement either way

    Reply

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