Monday, 6 January 2014

The Must-Have Checklist to Become a Career Mom

I would like to write on this post in my own version...yes, there is nothing new about this but let me put it in a more structured way. Hopefully those who just started a family can pick up some valuable points here. For you ladies who may disagree or wish to add on, your inputs and feedbacks are most welcome. 

It is always not easy for the working moms having to leave their children at home to be with the maid or babysitter and most of the times they have to pay the price by being suffocated with guilt feeling and sense of failure to a certain extent. I myself have been a full-time career mom for a long time (14 years to be exact) and during this time, I knew there would be lots of things I could have done better.

Having said that, no matter how hard you try to be a supermom and a super worker at the same time (and become superwife...not to forget that), you need to be cautious of your purpose and be aware of your own limitations. All these must be given considerable thought and by doing so will determine how far you can go in your career.

# Checklist item 1 - Necessity

(Pic sourced from the internet)

Do you really need to go out to work to earn a living ? If you are married, is your husband financially able to take care of the family ? First and foremost in making the decision, you have to observe  the basic concept of the Maqasid Al-Shariah, which should guide you in prioritising your financial goals. So with the current income your spouse has, is it not sufficient ? If the answer to all these questions are no, then it is time for you to consider getting a job to assist your spouse financially (I know some women are really career minded so money is not an issue to them).

# Checklist item 2 - My husband is my best friend and consultant

(Pic sourced originally from internet shared by

Talking about level of commitment, women would always have 2 options regardless whether they are self-employed, or if they are employed, career women. From a career woman perspective, the first option can be described with the following statement  : "I deliver what is required of me...when the time is up I just drop everything and return home. I am not interested with any career enhancement nor am I hard up for bonus". The second option, on the other hand is described as this : "I like the idea of being able to help improve my family's financial position.  I need recognition for my contribution to the organisation and career development is necessary to help in my promotion. Definitely I look forward for a good salary increment and bonuses as these will give extra comfort to my family". So which option do you prefer and choose ?

I reckon that both options have their pros and cons. I have seen many of my peer colleagues in the office choose Option 1. Honestly Option 1 is fine to me but somehow or rather the organisation you work with may have some expectations on you. The longer your service is in the organisation,  the more experienced worker you have become and your employer would not mind investing in you to groom you as the next leaders of the organisation. Unfortunately, we have seen some women employees who are not providing the required level of commitment, some with disciplinary issues  and some would require constant motivation to get the job done.

My point of view is as long as you think you need the job and maintain your career, whether you like it or not you need to manage your employer's expectations on you. It is what we call a 'win-win situation'. Nowadays many women find it hard to balance their commitment at the workplace and commitment at home, and this is the reason why more women nowadays opt for self-employment, or rather work from home at their own leisure.

Okay lets get back to the perspective. Now that both of you and husband, and not to forget your children, have decided and agreed that mom needs to work and provide reasonable amount of commitment to the employer, the most essential element required now would be your husband's blessing ! Approval is one thing...yet blessing is another thing. You really need your husband to support you in your career. As a matter of fact,  men are typically reluctant to let their wives leave the house and the kids for work, with a known tendency of men and female mingling around in getting things done in the office (or if I may say, occasions that may lead to flirting). Therefore it is very important that your husband is fully aware and understand the purpose, and at the same time trust you wholeheartedly (note : women must not abuse the trust given by the husband to avoid crisis and conflicts in marriage. I am not going to discuss about it here for it is assumed that all women know their boundaries, alright).        

A husband is the leader and advisor of the family and no matter how fast you climb the ladder and even if at one point you earn a lot more than him, you still have to respect him as your husband (note : For info, Islam emphasizes the role of man in the family and the teaching of Islam provides the fundamentals, rules and accountability of man and woman towards creating a strong family foundation). More importantly, you and your husband know your roles and responsibilities very well, co-operate with each other and manage the family and the kids with full of affections. 

# Checklist item 3 - You need Skills

Pic sourced from
I still remember those days when we just got married and had our first baby. My husband and I  earned small income and we had our old motorbike to get to work (he dropped me at the bus station and I had to take a bus to reach my office). I asked for help from my mother to take care of our baby, and 2 years later when we had our second child, we had our neighbour to babysit our kids. Few years later when we were more financially stable and could afford a housemaid, we employed one.

There were countless ups and downs, twists and turns throughout the years, numerous lessons learnt, painful episodes, conflicts, sadness and failures of which all these taught us to maneuver our life better. Obviously skills are developed through experience. And obviously the things that you learnt as a mother in the past make you a better person today.

As a career mom, you need to master certain basic skills for you to be able to manage both your family and career. Different moms have different strengths and weaknesses in some skills and that is why you need support from your husband or your parents or whoever that are close to you. I have to admit that my husband is better than me in terms of time management but I am doing great in multi-tasking (something I can be proud of myself with !). My husband has a remarkably good self-discipline, well-organised and is an early bird. Unlike me, I am an owl who prefers staying up late to settle my things (consequently I have to keep snoozing my alarm clock few times before I could really raise myself from bed in the morning !), a bit haphazard (too much multi-tasking I supposed !) but am certainly fast and self-driven. No matter how, interaction and communication skills are important as these help to address issues and problems faced in the family. Being a career mom also means that you have to have the skill in balancing the 2 components in your life i.e. your family and your career. 

Well, this subject about skill is very broad indeed and I have briefly mentioned above those few basic skills required of which in-depth discussion on these skills will be done in my future posting in shaa Allah (God Willing).

# Checklist item 4 - Faith and Submission

I liked reading a post by Umm Salihah regarding working mom's guilt feeling. I totally agree with her. Sometimes you find yourself in argument with other women who question synically how you balance the family and work. You would then keep telling that you are doing your best and things work well, yet ironically deep in heart you blame yourself for many things. My biggest guilt is when I see my kids not doing well in their exam and I start blaming myself for that.

Six months ago an office colleague was suggesting to me to walk up to the boss to negotiate about my job promotion. Considering that most of my peer colleagues have had their career enhancement and it was high time for me to give a serious thought on that, I was contemplating. Honestly you surely want to keep up yourself with the rest, get a job promotion, lead a bigger team, get good bonus but is it what you really want at the end of the day?

Like Umm Salihah,  we all have a purpose.  We are not ordinary working mom, we are indeed great working moms! I learnt that you need to define your goals in specific and be realistic. Then you gotta write them down. Give a timeline. You can download the Muslimah's Inspiration Journal 2014, a gift by Umm Salihah to write all these. It is free Alhamdulillah.

As I grow older and become more matured, I realize that there is nothing else I need in life. The path is getting clearer and the objective is more defined. My mission now is very worship Him! Then no worries about becoming the best career woman, or the greatest mom. I thanked Allah SWT for the life and opportunities, for everything that I have now, be it good or bad. And I thanked Him for the Hidayah...which with a strong faith and submission to Him, nothing can go wrong in shaa Allah. After all, why do we exist in this world? To worship Him, of course. I want to focus on how I can improve myself as His servant, being a faithful muslimah, a good wife and mother and eventually contribute to a strengthened ummah, in shaa Allah.

So sisters, hopefully this post would give you some benefits and knowledge. All the best to all career moms (and career moms-to-be !) in the world wherever you are.


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