The first part of this article gave five suggestions to help working Muslim mothers cope with their work and family responsibilities:
1- Purify your intentions and reasons to work.
2- Openly discuss your career with your husband
3- Have an open line of communication with your employer
4- Seek out the best and safest childcare for the children
5- Plan your week wisely
In this second part, five more useful suggestions to help alleviate the burden of working mothers:
Ask for Help!
After all that is said and done, every mother needs to accept this: There is no such thing as a Super Mama.
This is a consolation, because society puts a heavy burden upon women to juggle nearly everything in the home, as well as earn some form of income.
As and where you can, and as and where you need, get help! If it’s catered meals or help around the house – ask for help when you need it. If help is offered, even better – accept it with gratitude!
There is no shame in asking for assistance, especially when you need to avoid burn-out. It used to take a village to raise one child, and at best, if there are good people around you who are happy to make your life easier as a working mother and at the same time, honor the sanctity of your family, then embrace them – they are jewels in a very rocky raft.
Create Traditions for the Family
Make your family time meaningful. Have your meals together. Start with breakfast, if possible, and on weekdays, enjoy dinner together. Use dinner time to talk about the day, to keep everyone included in the family.
Sleep early as per the Sunnah of the Prophet, wake up early and read Quran together – even if it’s a short surah.
Other simple family time could include board games on Saturday afternoon or morning, walks on Sunday mornings. Once in a while – if finances permit – take a holiday away together.
Even if these things are difficult to fit into a busy schedule, cook meals together. Not only do you get at least one and a half meals done in a giant pot, but children also learn an important culinary skill. The same goes for laundry – it is time-consuming and annoying – but it needs to get done, and what better way to do it than as a family.
And while you’re enjoying family time – spouses need to dedicate special time for each other. Whether it is just to catch up with each other or for intimacy, spousal relations need to be kept special and sacred, over and above a career.
Keep a Good Memory Journal
Whether it is a scrap book, photo journal or a blog, keep good memories in a single place. Looking back at how the children used to look as babies is enough coolness of the eyes for any mother, when the going gets tough.
Flipping through good memories as a family will keep you focused as to why and how you utilize your work experience for your family.
Plan for Your Family in the Long Run
Every once in a while, it pays to reevaluate your career, because this will reevaluate your intentions as well (for the sake of Allah, remember?). The job market is changing so quickly nowadays that what you are doing now, may be obsolete in five years down the road.
Building on your existing skills and interests may not only help advance you in your career but perhaps open up better opportunities that will enable you to reduce inherent work stress. As the internet plays an exponential role in the job market, opportunities like flexi-time, higher pay – less work hours (as you advance), work from home, or setting up enterprises may become the norm for many mothers.
On the flip-side, if you’re finding a gross amount of dissatisfaction in your career or that you find that you’re making too many sacrifices with respects to the family, then it may be time to work on an exit plan. It may sound like suicide for many, but this doesn’t mean quitting the job market totally. Changing jobs, even careers, is always an option. And opting out of the workforce is also an option.
A thorough reevaluation of finances, time and energy may prove fruitful for this to work. No amount of stress is worth the loss of the family unit. In the end, Allah is our Provider and Sustainer – not our employer or our paycheck.
Your Job as a Means for Your Real Job
Wherever you are at work, whatever you are doing, no matter how many hours you spend there, however high or mediocre your status is, or how highly-charged your career is spreading its leaves, don’t lose sight of your real job as a Muslim.
Your career or your job is just a means of fuelling your higher purpose of worshipping and serving Allah. If it overtakes that purpose, then go back to the last point for a reevaluation.
Similarly, as a working wife and mother, raising children (alongside your husband), is a monumental task on its own, as it complies with the first job our parents – Adam and Eve – had as the first human beings on earth – to give birth and raise the next generation of honored human beings to again, worship and serve Allah alone. Marriage is the function of that (to have children), and it falls upon both parents to take parenting very seriously, no matter how much time we spend working to earn an income.
The strength of the Muslim community lies in its diverse heritage. This does not only mean honor through different races and nationalities, but through our interests, personal strengths, skills, education, and contribution to society.
It is by no surprise that Muslim women are seen as active participants in the workforce. However, at the same time, the Muslim woman is the shepherd of the future generation of Muslims – her children.
Balancing between a career, spouse, children and household can be stressful and intimidating, but all this can be accomplished through one’s own effort and du’a (supplication) for ease of affairs.
Stress is inherent in all things, and it pays to strike a delicate balance between all, to continue to worship, serve and please Allah Almighty above everything else.