Welcome back to “A Working Mum’s Life” series. In the last couple of weeks, LIFE got in the way of everything else, but we are so glad to bring you the next installment in this great feature, after sharing Rumbidzai Makina’s humourous read, “It wasn’t a dress”.
This time round Babazile Mbetse shares with us how she navigates being a working mum on her own terms.
Being a working mum means I have a portfolio of careers
We were chatting the other day about how millennials have redefined the culture of the 9-5 by opting out of the confines of corporate and managing their multiple careers the best way they know how, being ‘nomadic workers’ – which means they can work anywhere, anyhow, in their terms and own spaces and yet still fully enjoy a rather impressive social life.
And then the other day I came across the term ‘a portfolio of careers’ – which is essentially the same description as the nomadic worker. This got me thinking, that as a working mum (and wife), I too have a portfolio of careers because I juggle. I simply change shifts, strategy and execution styles. My 9-5 still gives me great joy. So too does my role of motherhood. I also love catching up with friends, connecting with my husband outside our home and of course ‘filling my cup’ by doing the things that I love which includes a bit of exercise, my frequent fix of manis and pedis or that hour at the salon for a hair touch up.
So how do I balance the madness of being a working mom of three? Am I a super mom? Yes. At least in my head I am. Realistically; super moms don’t live on this earth. In my world however, I’m super mom just by the mere fact that I’m the best mother that I can be to my children.
I may not be in the frontline at sporting events because of work responsibilities, but I’m in the frontline the moment I get home and kick my heels off. The cups of hot chocolate, cuddles, school projects, story time, nighttime tuck-in, board games, and outings to the park on Sundays all make it worthwhile.
FOMO meets dialogue
Like most moms, I live with the fear of missing out on my children’s most important milestones. For now, thankfully I have a hands-on husband who steps in when I cannot and takes care of some of the FOMO moments because I get authentic feedback on everything. I also communicate upfront when I’m unable to be present.
So what tips can I share on a work, ‘life with children’ balance?
I learnt early on in my career that working for organizations that aren’t family orientated does not serve me. So over the years, I’ve made it a point to understand the type of organisation that I ultimately want to be part of. I choose ones that value family. The tell-tale sign once you’re there is in how your seniors react to news surrounding pregnancy or how they treat you as a mother. You know those emergencies due to your child being sick? I worked in an agency once where the moment I became pregnant, the MD, who happened to be female, ‘changed gears on me’. I resigned straight after my maternity leave because I knew what was to come.
I know how frustrating the schooling system is in South Africa (or maybe it’s just in JHB). But the one thing I knew from day one was that I would never be one of those moms who would shuttle kids at the crack of dawn just so I can have dinner conversations about which prestigious school my kids go to. I’ve selected my kids’ schools within very close proximity of where I live. Luckily, they’re good schools.
The weekend shift is where I can really be present for my kids. The same way I’m present at work during the week. Sunday’s are dedicated to my family. We do everything together and I purposefully switch off because it’s the one day of the week where I do not have deadlines to meet. As a Christian mom, I love connecting with God in a church environment, so we attend church on a Sunday, then lunch together and go out for some fun outdoor activity or simply hangout together at home and do all sorts of things. I’ve even managed to teach my kids the value of simply turning off the TV to allow for proper flow of conversation among other things. It’s really paying off! Holidays are also a great way of switching off and being present.
Lastly, working hard allows me the opportunity to be able to afford some little luxuries such as a full time nanny and an Au pair. In my line of work, no two days are the same and there can be late nights and travel involved. Having full time help allows me to rely on a consistent structure and luckily for me, I’ve been blessed with the same nanny for a while so consistency has been a big part of how my kids have grown up. The Au pair is a fairly new arrangement and it has really been such a pleasure because my kids can attend extra murals and get home in time for the 6pm bath time while mom and dad navigate traffic home from work.
It’s in the little things really- like the overflowing love that my children give me as their mum. No matter what kind of day I’ve had, I can count on a hug, a kiss and loving conversations at the end of each day! Even if extended via a telephone conversation when I’m not at home. I may be juggling a portfolio of careers; but hey, motherhood is the best of the lot!
Can you relate to Babazile’s story?
We’d love to hear how you juggle being a working mum.
How have your own challenges helped you grow?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Meet the Fab Working Mum
Babazile is a communication specialist, wife, mother, writer, and lover of beautiful things. She juggles beautifully and with so much “realness” her role as a mom to her “Greatest achievements” while heading up a kick ass team of communications specialist. We love her love of life and elegance. You can follow Babazile on social media
New to the series devoted to every working mum in South Africa? Catch up here.