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Opinions desired - Working/Pregnant mother with Toddler

  1. #1
    pinki09 is offline Registered User
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    Opinions desired - Working/Pregnant mother with Toddler

    Dear Friends,

    I am in a bit of a desperate situation, and in need of some real assurance/opinions/advise. I have an 18 mo and another due in early Sept. I am currently working full time and all five days of the week, I am working 9-7. I don't belong to HK, so there is no family support, and my toddler son is home alone with the helper all the weekdays and few hours on Sat, when me & hubby go out for getting the household chores done.

    Now, the thing is, my helper is a wonderful lady, is very sweet to my son, and even my son is too attached to her. I understand that since she is the primary caretaker, the bond develops, which is good in the sense that at least my son is not emotionally vulnerable. However, now this whole setup is getting a bit too much and I have started getting uncomfortable. My son addresses my helper as auntie, my husband as papa...but he has nothing to address me. If I hide, he would not come to find me. The only time he 'needs' me is before bedtime, since we co-sleep in the same room, so he is used to the night nap with mummy, but doesn't call me mummy :(

    My helper on the other hand, who is very nice to my son, but since she is all by herself all the day, and does the cooking, child care etc, with no body to raise an eyebrow or instruct her, has started to take more hold of my household, decide what is to be cooked, and what my child will wear, where would he go for playing - playroom or park, and when should he sleep etc etc.

    I have never been a very strict employer, and have an approach of mingle with the family, but now it is all getting a bit too much. On top of that, with the first trimester, I am so exhausted , that out of the 2-3 hours that I get with my son in the evenings, I want to relax at least 1 hour after returning from work.

    I feel like quitting and staying at home, and I anyways would be taking a long break soon after my second is born. This is why I am deferring the quitting part for as far as I can. But, once the second arrives, I still would not be able to spend time with my first, as again I would be too busy. what if my first even at 2 years, when his sibling is born, still doesn't address me as 'mummy' ? should I altogether quit my career at this very moment? would it really help to shape up a better future for my children? I am really not liking this arrangement of a third person, who is not related, getting to spend max. time with my child...that way he will never connect with us....I have always been a very academic person, and have worked throughout after college, so this decision of quitting is really too big for me and I am afraid if it will create an identity crisis....but at the expense of what? getting disconnected from your children, leaving them at a third party's mercy, who is after all just an employer...what impact would it leave on the child's mind? He would never get to know of his family ways, culture etc...

    I am just so sentimental with this whole thing, and would really appreciate your say....my husband too is very academic, and has tight work schedules. He is not too much in the favor of my quitting, because he thinks I will not be happy being at home...but I have this big guilt that the current arrangement is not the best for my child, and he would be much happier, and turn out to be a better individual if his mother takes care of him by herself.

    Please please please mothers and would be mothers, let me know your thoughts on this....

  2. #2
    lesliefu is offline Registered User
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    i was working full time too - until i had #2 then i quit (2009). though my hours were good (no work on Saturday and home by 4:30pm) as a teacher, i still felt that the younger years were very important to me to develop a bond with my children and instill in them our family values - your helper is probably very good, but she was brought up differently from you and so her values will be different from you and your husbands. luckily for us, our family could manage on just one salary. i was also doing my doctorate at the same time...so 2 kids, studying part time and full time job just didn't give me a lot of time with the kids.

    to be honest, i'm still getting used to it, and want to find a part time job somewhere...in fact, i've applied to be substitute teachers and different schools and tutor once in a while just to get out of the house...and just about to complete my doctorate. but having a full time job would be SO nice! :) but our priority as a couple is to ensure that the kids grow up with our personal care...i'm crossing my fingers that I will be able to go back to full time work when my youngest starts primary school...at least another 5 years since he''ll be born in August....a LONG time! I try not to think about it that way, and stay productive by studying - my latest is my doctorate, after that, maybe some short programmes to get me going.

    I have 2 great helpers (as #3 is on the way) and I trust them completely - but they do have a tendency to let my kids get away with things rather than putting a stop to the unwanted behavior, but if i am not around, then i would never be able to notice such things. i'm not sure what kind of mother you are...i'm quite hands on and it was easier to be hands on with all my energy at home - with a job, it was hard. what are your priorities as a family? unfortunately some things gotta give...i even suggested that i work full time and my husband be a stay at home dad, but being SO chinese he thought i was telling a joke, when in fact i was being serious! can you work from home? perhaps on a part time basis/ project basis so you can have the "best of both worlds" in a sense? with #2, you will find that the jump is quite big...i'd say having 1 kid is a walk in the park...2 there's more coordination...i don't know what to expect with #3...

    it sounds like your helper is great - taking the initiative to do things and make things really work for your son. your son is growing up fine, it appears, it's just how much do you want to be in control and is this "control" you want more important than your work? your work will always be there, but your child will grow - there will always be a chance for you to go back to work...at least that's what i believe. whatever you decide your really need to make sure it's a decision both you and your husband support so that it will work. honestly, as a pregnant mother to another, i am more sentimental than normal, i think it is the hormones playing a game on me...so set the facts straight and discuss with your husband - luckily for us hormones aren't affecting him! :)

  3. #3
    TNT
    TNT is offline Banned
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    I think it is a totally personal decision and only you and your husband can decide what is best for your family. I also know it is a very hard choice, there is no perfect decision and there will always be some compromises. The more opinions I hear on this, the more I think this is the case.
    When I was pregnant with my first I was working in the financial services industry with long hours (8-7 min), lots of travel etc and I really loved my job. However i was on a a contract which ended when i was 6 months pregnant and I decided I would take at least 12 months off after my baby was born; i figured you can always go back early if you want. As it turned out it is 4.5 years down the track, I have 2 children and have not worked since for a whole range of reasons, but the primary one is that i dont want someone else bringing up our children. Also we did not move to HK until our 2nd was 10 months old so i did not have a helper or any family where we lived and I felt the childcare options available were not only expensive and inflexible (unlike a helper) but were of no benefit to my children and possibly to their detriment.
    Although i sometimes miss work, i am totally comfortable with my decision, as these years are so short and work is always there. I feel for our family it has been the best thing and I love the fact that I have been the one to shape them and see them reach all their milestones. Some factors that also affected my decision were that my husband has a full on job in the same industry so no flexibility, there are no part time jobs at the level/type of job i was in and i had reached the level i wanted to go to so i wasn't worried about climbing the ladder/promotions etc. When i had just had my 2nd i was head hunted for and got offered a job despite my 3 years out of the workforce (luckily i didnt'have to decide whether to take it as my husband had just be offered the HK gig because it was a brilliant job and it would've been a hard decision!) So it gave me the confidence that I can go back and work again if/when I want to. Good luck with your decision and remember nothing is set in stone, if you make a choice and it doesnt'work out you always have the option to change - we are very lucky to have this as so many previous generations did not, but sometimes that makes the decisions all the harder!

  4. #4
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    My suggestion is to give it a try. If you have not had the experience of being a stay-at-home mother (SAHM) then you can't know for sure if it will work for you or not. I've had both experiences--that of a SAHM and of a working mother and I can say that I prefer to be a working mother. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy being with my child or even that I give up control over how he is raised. I think that as the above posters shared, there is always some compromise to be made. But, I think that at this point, my husband and I have set up the most ideal circumstances we can for our own family and we are content with the situation. I work full-time. My husband works part-time and is currently starting his own business. We have a full-time helper whom I trust and have a friendship with.

    One thing you said was that you feel like your helper has too much control over things in your home but because you are not a strict employer you haven't stepped in and asserted control either. I would say that I applaud your helper for stepping up and taking the lead because many helpers won't do that--they will just wait for their employer to instruct them step-by-step and if the employer doesn't do that, the child's routine/life suffers. This was our personal experience with our first helper whom we had to terminate after five months of poor performance. So, it's a very good thing that you have a helper who is organized, takes initiative and can also think for herself and make decisions.

    But, I have to say that in my case, I am not willing to just let my helper decide and dictate how my son is cared for or his schedule--I see that as my full responsibility. She is in no way his substitute mother. She is my helper--meaning, she is basically like a second pair of hands (of course, with a heart attached) that helps carry the workload of what I can't accomplish by myself. I think it also helps that in the past my mother came and lived with us for about nine months and she sort of filled a nanny-type role for my son. My husband's parents live in Hong Kong and they are also involved in my son's life and my sister lived with us for six months as well. So, basically there is a support network/community of people who have invested themselves in my son's life. I think this is to his benefit. I may be a "wonderful person" but I'm still human.

    At first, when my son was born, I was adamantly against hiring help and had a very prideful attitude of "I'm going to raise this kid by myself and he will know who raised him etc." but then life happened and I had to humbly accept that the best thing for my son, myself and my family was to have more people involved in raising him. Of course, these people are trusted people--I'm not pawning my son off on strangers. I feel no shame in allowing my son to be influenced and "raised" by people whom I also love and trust--I think it makes us all less isolated and more connected to community and in my mind, that's healthy.

    Of course, in matters of small things (i.e. what he will wear for the day) my helper may have more decision making power (however, I am clear to her about what clothes I prefer/find acceptable etc. and she knows this). But, I do things like plan our monthly meal schedule (picking out the recipes myself), online food shopping as well as some marketing, arranging classes for my son, setting my son's food, nap, play, bath and sleep schedule and being as involved as I possibly can in everything. On a day-to-day basis I feel like I am calling the shots most of the time on how my son is cared for and am participating in his care.

    I am very blessed that my son can come to my place of employment and hang out with me during my lunch breaks and that my working hours are manageable. When I come home from work it Mama and Son time and even though the time is short and I'm also exhausted from pregnancy (9+ months pregnant right now) it's all about the quality time we have together, rather than the quality time. To my little boy, I'm a rock star and no one can replace me. Before, when I was a SAHM, I had a lot of time with my son (quantity) but it was nowhere near the quality of time we spend together now. I feel like I really do have the best of both worlds. We'll see how things go when baby number two arrives in a few short weeks.

    So, again, my suggestion is to give it a try. Work will always be there. You may love being a SAHM. It may fit you well. But, you may find that it's not the ideal situation too. Sometimes, another mother's ideal situation won't be your ideal situation. But, if you give it a try then you can find out.

  5. #5
    pinki09 is offline Registered User
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    Dear Lesliefu, TNT, Thanka2,

    Firstly, many thanks for sharing your views on my situation. Last two days me & hubby have been having a very intense decision on the steps going ahead...I work in the IT industry as a software developer, and quitting for a few years would mean losing touch from the in thing & technology and hence the returning options would be far more limited. Thanka2 I really think you are very lucky that you have your family to meet & monitor your kids at times....that in my opinion is the best solution for working moms...my friends, cousions back home who work have daycare + grandparents + helper option which i personally think is more balanced that leaving the child alone with the helper for the whole day....even though they are wonderful humans, the values a family member would share with your child is different....plus in my case the timings stretch so far that I reach home at 7-7:30....its already dark...at 10 my son sleeps...out of the 3 hours, I am in the kitchen fr an hour cooking, though my helper helps me with that, she cannot cook the whole thing end to end....and i'm so exhausted that I feel i am not able to put in that quality time with my son.....
    Anyways, i think i will give it a shot...and also look at other career alternatives...lately I was looking into the schooling system here and realised that as the kids grow, we need to invest even more quality time with them, for there is so much competition at every stage...getting into a good kindy, then primary....gosh, its not easy :) and to top it all, the articles like tiger mom have really gotten me thinking hard about raising techniques! In any case once no 2 arrives, i would be taking a long break until he/she is 1.5/2..so i've decided to quit a bit earlier than planned...(i was looking at june...once in 3rd trimester, but now i will just finish march and bid goodbye)
    Once again thanks for all your inputs ladies....thing is most of my girlfriends either hv always been sahm, or are focussing full on career and deferred the decision of having children...didnt know anyone else in a similar situation until i read all your wonderful replies....
    Thanks again :)

  6. #6
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    i think every mother who works outside the home in hk faces the same problems/decisions/feelings.

    it all comes down to you, personally. how YOU feel.... it doesn't matter what worked for me or for anyone else. we are not you and we can only tell you what worked for us.

    for me:
    I am self-employed. we hired our helper when i was pregnant with #1. she left us after almost 6 years at the end of last december. we have decided not to replace her. as i am self-employed, i can pretty much set my own hours. i do a lot of administration work (i own a playgroup centre and am opening a second centre in about 8 weeks) after my kids are in bed, they are in bed before 8pm every night, unless we've gone out for dinner. i often work from 8pm-12mn. occasionally, i have to teach in the centre. Because we are getting the new centre open, I have been/am going to be extremely busy in the next few weeks.

    Besides the centres, I help my hubby with his dog boarding business, often running all over hk picking up and dropping off dogs.

    How do I cope? Everyone does their bit. The kids are now old enough that they can make their own beds, brush their own teeth, change their own clothes etc. The help do the laundry (my 6 year old knows how to work the washing machine!). They change the sheets on their beds and help put new sheets on...Hubby: does the laundry, makes the bread (we have a bread maker) and sometimes cooks. I do the cleaning, plan the meals, tidy the house, do the driving, put the kids to bed, prepare most of the meals.

    It's a TEAM effort. I think that if you have a helper, she has to be part of the team. You have to be the captain and direct the team. if you don't, then she HAS NO CHOICE but to step up to the plate and take over. You are lucky that you have a helper that can do this, not all of them can/do. You can't blame her for doing this.... you're not doing your job as the captain...

    What can you do?
    1) plan the meals, and ask her to cook them! of course she can be expected to cook the entire meal! that's her job! if she can't, then maybe she's not the right employee for you...
    2) YOU chose the clothes and set them out at night before you go to bed.
    3) YOU set the schedule for your child and ask her to follow it.
    4) YOU decide how she is to deal with any poor behaviour of your child. make sure she follows your instructions.

    YOU are the boss. YOU need to act as such. It is great to be kind, friendly, compassionate and understanding... you SHOULD be all of those things, but you also have to be the BOSS...

    good luck with your time off, i hope that you enjoy it and that it leaves you with a clear head when it comes to deciding when/if you "go back to work"...

  7. #7
    pinki09 is offline Registered User
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    Dear Carang,

    Thanks for sharing your views. Yes, I totally agree that I should take the role of the boss, and which I do to quite an extent. My problem is more about time constraint. I do set out guidelines about what my child should eat through the day, what should he wear, what should be cooked for meal, with which my helper helps the max she can. But, problem is, I spend so less time at home, that eventually the control she exercises becomes more than desired. This works in favor of my son may times, as my helper is a reasonable lady and keeps my son at a higher priority than cleaning or other household activities. But, I have started feeling insecure because of the lack of time that I spend at home, I feel that my household is slipping away from my control. I get up at 7, leave home by 8:30..my son wakes up at 8 and does breakfast when I leave. I am back home by 7:30, and he is playing at that time...by 8:30-9 we start his dinner, and he is very sleepy by 9:45-10:15...so leaves me 1.5-2 hours with him. Of this, I spend some time in the kitchen to fine tune the dinner part. This is the reason why we make our son co-sleep in the same room, though in a toddler bed, because I want that he should need his mother at least at some point of time in the day, even if it is while going to bed.

    I really miss being with my kid, and watch him grow everyday or see him do the new activities. Moreover, the new pregnancy leaves me quite exhausted, and unfortunately people at work do not understand so much, since most of my colleagues(mostly men) are either bachelors, or with kids having family support to take care of them in their absence. According to them I am not committed because I leave at 7:00, which is before they leave, even though I make sure there is no pending task under my name. Sometimes I have to even work from home after office hours, for which I have declined, but this again hasn't been taken too well. Even though I love my work a lot, the work culture is hindering me from having a balanced work-life situation. When I was working in my home country, I used to work with an American firm, and I would simply connect from home when I wouldn't feel like going to work. All that mattered was that I finish my task on time, with an exceeding level of quality & performance. Here, I cannot take even a day of sick leave without having the doctor's receipt. even though my colleagues know that I am pregnant, I cannot take a half day off, just because I am tired to come to office that day.
    Anyways, I am sorry to vent out my feelings, but I am feeling so bad about not being happy in the current state of affairs. Unfortunately, there is no middle way out...either I quit or I slog and meet my son & husband just for 3 hours a day! and this decision would have been a lot easier, had I not been so passionate about my work. maybe I should think about freelancing once no.2 is 6 mo. I will most likely have to think on those lines....for I definitely want to work for my own sake, but do not want my family life to suffer or my children to miss their mother.

    Thanks again..

  8. #8
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    a couple of things to consider:
    1) pregnancy hormones are coursing through your body right now and everything is heightened.
    2) two kids is vastly different to having one child.
    3) every mother who works outside the home has the same feelings of guilt.
    4) you have time before you must decide what you are going to do, there is no rush
    5) children younger than 5-6 rarely remember much for very long, so even if your son is close to his helper now, if you got rid of her, in a couple of years he wouldn't even remember her.
    6) if your helper is "taking over" then you need to reassert yourself. this can be extremely difficult if you are working full time.

    my suggestion is to wait this out. you don't need to be in a rush nor do you need to make a decision immediately. you have time to think this through after the baby comes and your hormones can settle down a little.

    as you say, maybe freelancing is the way to go. if you don't "need the money" that you are bringing in and can afford to have long periods of time between paychecks, it might be the perfect alternative....something to think about but not dwell on....

    good luck for the remainder of your pregnancy.

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