As a working parent, you’ll likely face lots of guilt, anxiety and fear every single day. In the office, despite staying on top of your work, you fear your boss may not see you as a productive employee for leaving work punctually to rush home to the kids.
At home, you’re constantly checking work e-mails and stressing about things to the point that you feel you’re not really present for your little ones. Then, you receive the monthly bills, which makes you anxious to be on top of the astronomical costs of raising a family.
As if this isn’t enough, you sometimes find yourself on the receiving end of snide remarks or insensitive comments from friends and family. Here are “gems” working mums and dads would be happy never to hear again…
1) “Don’t you just miss your kid when you’re at work?” ― Sarah Nah, 29, mum to Nate, 6 months.
The last thing any working mum wants to be reminded of is the guilt they feel at leaving their kids — especially babies and young tots — at home or in childcare. Looking at their children’s pictures on their phones and laptops, it’s pretty obvious they’re missing their children. So, no, they really don’t need you to remind them of this fact.
2) “Aren’t you afraid your child will choose your helper over you?” ― Natalie Tan, 31, mum to Gerri, 3.
Just because a working parent spends a lot of time in the office doesn’t mean that they aren’t present for their kids. Working parents often rely on helpers if they can’t bank on family support to care for their offspring. So, it’s natural for their child to bond with their main caregiver, but this doesn’t mean they love you any less.
Also, childcare doesn’t fall solely on the mum, husbands can play an active role as parents, too. “My husband is able to get home from work much earlier than I do, so he’s the one who puts her to bed,” adds Tan, “We try to arrange our plans such that one of us is always at home in the evenings.”
Having a job is a necessity when you have bills to pay and mouths to feed... Often, parents have to place their offspring in infantcare as they don’t have childcare support at home.
3) “Wah, so lucky you get so much childcare leave!” ― Melissa Tan, mum to Cameron, 3, Connor, 5, and Christian, 7.
Having children has its perks, such as childcare leave. This means an additional two to six days off work, depending on your child’s age. However, parents often use childcare leave to nurse a sick child or attend meet-the-parents sessions and prep for first day of school. “It’s never enough, when your child gets sick, it gets wiped out right away!” adds Tan, who is a communications manager.
4) “If you’re on MC, why can’t you take care of your child?” ― Jassmin Peter-Berntzen, mum to Andreas, 4, who attends half-day school and spends the afternoons with his grandparents.
When you’re feeling under the weather, you need rest ―preferably away from your kiddo, so as to avoid spreading the bug. “So I was shocked when my mother, a working mum herself, asked me a few times why I couldn't pick my son up after school since I was 'not at work and just at home’,” recalls Peter-Berntzen.
5) “Don’t you think it’s very cruel to leave your child in infantcare?” ― Pamela Teo, mum to Christian, 11 months.
Having a job is a necessity when you have bills to pay and mouths to feed, so dual-income families are the norm in Singapore. Often, parents have to place their offspring in infantcare as they don’t have childcare support at home. This is not an act of cruelty, in fact, little ones thrive in such an environment, which features dedicated and well-trained teachers. Plus, there are other kids to play with all day, so what’s not to love?
6) “Isn’t it your wife’s job to take care of the kids?” ― Father of two, Alfred Lim.
Although more dads these days are hands-on with their kids, they aren’t spared the guilt-tripping either. Lim, who enjoys taking care of his children, was once asked by a colleague why he had to take time off work for his son’s doctor’s visit. “I was shocked, I don’t think my colleague even understood when I tried to explain that a dad’s role is much bigger than being the occasional babysitter,” Lim notes.
7) “You are going on six months’ maternity leave. That’s a nice break!" ― Mum of two Thilaga Sundaram, a journalist who took an additional two months of unpaid leave following her maternity leave of 16 weeks.
Maternity leave is anything but a break for a mother. We’re talking feeding baby on demand, changing dirty diapers and picking up around the house, while operating on limited sleep and recovering from the rigours of childbirth!
“I choose to think that it’s not about how much time I spend with my kids but rather what we do during our time together that counts.”
8) “I could never leave my kids with the helper for the whole day.” ― Jolin Chung, 37, mum of a 12-year-old boy.
As a working mother, you count yourself lucky if you return home in time to have dinner with your kids. Not all working mums enjoy this perk ― they certainly wish they didn’t have to rely so heavily on their helpers. Chung adds, “I choose to think that it’s not about how much time I spend with my kids but rather what we do during our time together that counts.”
9) “You are always not free to come meet us.” ― Christine Xu, mum of a 7-month-old girl.
Ladies’ night used to be the highlight of the week when you were single. Then, when you got married, you treasured weekends, since you were spending it with your significant other. Now that the kids are here and you have a demanding full-time job, you have even less time to socialise. If you’re friends with a working mum, please know that your friend still values your friendship, she just doesn’t have that much time to join you every week for a girls’ night out.
10) “Is that why you gave up breastfeeding?” ― Tan Jia Yee, mum to Greyson, 2.
Stress at work can affect breastmilk supply, but this doesn’t mean every mum who goes back to work stops breastfeeding immediately. Many pump during their working hours to keep supply up and breastfeed once they go home. By the way, they will do so for as long as they need to.
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