15,000 women marched through New York City in 1908 demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. On this International Women’s Day, 100 years later, still the working woman is struggling for a good work-life balance. Shorter hours or flexible work schedule presents the most conducive working environment for a working mother, especially those with young kids. The fight for the right to work flexible hours continues even now with a hope that the employers and the government will one day get on to this demand and shorter work hours, part-time work and re-entering the workforce would not be as much as a struggle for the working woman as it is now.

On the Path from being a Stay-at-home Mom to a Working Mother
Children need undivided attention and the family needs time dedication and nurturing that a woman brings to a home. If the mothers who intend on re-entering the workforce do not have the right of choice to work in balanced life-work workplace environment, we are eventually weakening the very basis of a family structure and the future – our children.

In a choice to join work after motherhood, many women would choose to be stay at home moms and sacrifice their careers to bring up their kids; but for many of them it is not a choice, with the main target of income generating through them and the pressures of a higher standards of living in bigger cities it is not possible to survive and save in one income only. With no choice women have to choose working over spending more time with kids. Would that scenario change if women had a right to part-time work and flexible working hours schedule?

With a career to nurture and sparing time for kids at home is an ideal situation for a family which seeks balance in financial matters and personal well-being. The mother also finds herself satisfied with a career and the quality time that she wants with her family. It is not an easy task managing both home and work, but at least a flexible schedule frees away the tension and guilt that a mother undergoes of having her young cared by institutions or nannies who cannot contribute to a complete development of a child.

Again it is not a question and struggle of having it all, it is a question of managing it all in the best possible way whatever you have. Happiness is not in having it all, it lies in enjoying what you have. Time has a terrible habit of flying off faster than you anticipate, what would work best for you trying everyday to hold on to every hour or a minute or hoping you had an extra hour each day or watching it pass as you find time to enjoy with your child and family and also finding time to pursue your interests which defines you or completes you?

The global workforce is full of workaholics; we are always short of time. Short of time to get work done, short of time to spend time with the family and short of time to see time pass by. Time has been whizzing past us for many years now, we desperately try to hold on to time and try to read books on time management when we find time.

Two salaried families are common and in bigger cities of the country it is essential for survival. With so much time pressure and both spouses working full-time the major pressure is felt in the family life while juggling a career and a family. In this struggle the woman faces the major brunt of the situation where she is still the caretaker of the family with additional career pressures. It becomes a necessity for the mother to support family aspirations or comfortable survival by contributing to the financial health of the family. And more so a requirement for the single working mother.

Re-entering the Job Market
Re-entry process is usually tough and may take somewhere from 3 months to more than a couple of years it all depends on your skills, preparations and interests.

There is a need to facilitate special programs to enable women re-enter the workforce, they have taken time off to mould our future generation and it is the responsibility of the society, government and private employers to take on the task to enable a smooth re-entry process for the skilled moms with a work experience gap in their resume.

If the re-entry to the job market was easy enough would:

  • More women opt out of the workforce after motherhood?
  • Would fewer women delay childbirth only because it is an impediment to their careers?

We need more family friendly work arrangements and through the government is rising the demands, more needs to be done locally and globally to help working women manage their families and careers effectively and contributing to the guiltless bringing up of their children.

The Demand for a Flexible Work Schedules for Young Parents

The choice to work flexible working hours must be a right, for a male or female, if a family has a child less than 5 years of age or is disabled, the time has come for the government and business policy makers to make a move in the 21st century making flexible hours a right for all workers. Be it in the US or globally, this step is required to encourage women to not opt-out of the workforce but manage work and family with the right balance. The policy can be extended to the post-retirement generation who is able and eager to contribute to the workforce. The question to the right to flexible policies however becomes complex when the manufacturing business sector it to be considered, with most of the working hours in shifts is it possible to incorporate such an idea in the areas where physical presence and hands-on operations are required 24/7?

The various business sectors must recognize that by supporting this right, they are helping themselves retain good employees and be a role model for the much required work-life balance.