I don’t know where to start to make this not sound like a whiny, ungrateful post, but all I hear all the time is how I’m so lucky to be able to work a real job and not having to say goodbye to my kid every day.
Truth be told, I kind of want to say goodbye. Just for a change of view. Even one day will do.
People pat your back because you don’t leave your kid in the hand of someone else’s care, and you don’t waste yourself by only caring for your child.
So the fact that I feel like a bad person for saying this out loud says a lot about how society treats Moms. We are shrines of perfection. The life standard. We must uphold a can-do-it-all superwoman facade that is to condemned when slips.
You feel bad for working away from your kid, you feel bad for not working and wasting your talent; Moms really can’t win.
Things get a weird turn when you work full time with your kid at home for a remote company, still in your PJs until about 11 am in the morning. Time is an abstract concept when you start your day forcefully awaken because, when your 6 months old is up, so are you. Your baby doesn’t understand that you only had 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep to hang on to for the rest of the day.
It’s not a smooth sailing
If I seem to have it all covered, it’s because I choose to not make a big deal out of it.
But there are days that I feel like just working non-stop in front of the laptop to keep up with my colleagues. I often wish that I have help at home.
I had been exclusively breastfeeding, and now my daughter has started on solid food. I bathe her, feed her, changed her, entertain her, sneak away to shower when she’s down for her first, super short nap. I can forget about lunch until about 3 pm in the afternoon, and that’s if I wish to deliver the target and show up for work.
What people don’t understand with full-time remote working is that it doesn’t mean you can chill at Starbucks with your laptop oozing millennials confidence. It means real responsibility and target, and when you’re a Mom, a real worry that you haven’t done enough.
A startup baby
Where’s the startup and tech element of this op-ed you might ask? Here it is.
My whole working experience has been from one startup to another. I’m what you called a Millennial mom.
I interned at Zalora when it was first set up in Indonesia in 2012, became ghostwriters for multiple local blogs, and now a writer for e27. That’s of course not all there is to my life because everyone has in-betweens. I got married and now I have a baby.
I stayed on with startups because my 6 years of startup oriented work experience puts me up there when anyone is looking for a content person with startups background on LinkedIn.
Importantly, because I’m a romantic, I love startup so much that I want to be around it doing what I can; which is to write.
I guess I am a startup baby, pun intended.
A startups’ flexible working arrangement allows me to have a job so conveniently from home, where I get to be close to my child who needs me once every three hours if I’m lucky.
According to a study conducted by World Economic Forum, a lifestyle of flexible work, including virtual teams, have become “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace. It also noted that,
“Telecommuting, co-working spaces, virtual teams, freelancing and online talent platforms are all on the rise, transcending the physical boundaries of the office or factory floor and redefining the boundary between one’s job and private life in the process. Modern forms of workers’ organization, such as digital freelancers’ unions, and updated labour market regulations are beginning to emerge to complement these new organizational models.”
Remote working is on its way to become the future of employment, especially with startup, which is a heavily technology-based way of working. Society seems to agree with it, seeing how we now have co-working facilities backed by local governments practically on every corner of every big city in Southeast Asia.
Who’s in luck with startups? Again, me.
I can set my alarm exactly when it’s time to pop up in our Slack group to let the team now I’m active for the day and not bother to shower first because I need to make sure the baby’s food is ready to be served.
The team you work with is also important. Had I not had the team that is understanding and accommodating with my current lifestyle, I would be somewhere between having to hire a nanny or let my partner works in some field he doesn’t have a passion for.
How I survive
In my experience, I find it important to sneak away and just accept the fact that I can never be a trophy Mom.
I will never be able to not use a smartphone in front of her because I’m constantly on something, typing articles or talking with a subject over the phone.
She has seen a laptop screen from the age of three months because I cannot wait until she’s asleep to get my article published. It’s a constant work.
Christine Ayroso, our own Account Manager gave her two cents about juggling family and startup working life.
“It all depends on preference. I have worked remotely (been doing so on and off), mainly because of my family responsibilities (my kids and taking care of them). It works for me because I can both work and look after them at the same time. This requires a lot of discipline though. Personally, I have my own space whenever I work remotely. I also have a lot of client meetings, so it really makes sense to have a workspace in my house.”
For working at home Moms, there needs to be an adjustment that will accommodate both career and motherhood. Some Moms tell me that they have bottled up an immense guilt that they have to turn on a television and let their kids passively watching cartoons just to get things done.
Trust me, I know the feeling all too well. It’s hard to keep one eye on your diving-headfirst baby while typing on your phone to finish a piece, and then being eaten up by guilt when your baby’s asleep for thinking you don’t stimulate her enough during her supposedly golden years.
I sometimes wish my baby can understand our family’s arrangement and forgive me. It makes me feel a little bit better, but not enough to stop feeling guilty.
We’re all in this together
For me, working in a startup remotely feels like I’m on the edge of running out of pardons. Although I have yet to screw up badly (which I don’t plan on doing, of course), it still feels like what I contribute to the company is still lacking.
I feel like I don’t move as fast as the others, and some days it gets real hard to keep up in part because of the remoteness.
Christine added that to overcome the remoteness and loneliness that can creep up sometimes, remote workers need to have a constant team communication.
“I think most importantly is to keep the communication going within the team. Even if I don’t see my team that often, we build the relationship online by maintaining communication,” said Christine.
All I want to say is, even though it gets messy, I’m thankful for startups. I get to do this and not miss out on my baby’s milestones because, although I’m not 100 per cent a full-time Mom, I’m still around her enough that she wants only me to put her to bed.
For that, I’m grateful.
I sure hope startups that have a remote working policy will continue to support women and Moms. Believe in Moms, hire Moms, and don’t make kids an excuse and kill a Mom’s potential. I hope more companies will accommodate working Moms, maybe with a lenient leave policy for Moms, or a daycare in an office (sounds like a billion dollar startup idea, no?)
And just when I was about to finish this article, my 6 months old cried for me. It’s pretty much how a day in a remote working Mom sums up.