Updated: Jun 6
I came to a point wherein I was torn between keeping the job that I love and sustaining us financially or giving up the work opportunity and taking care of my baby full time. For most of us, this can be an easy decision, for some, it can mean a great sacrifice for their survival.
Parenting is a 24/7 job, it is a job that requires all of your energy and attention and as a first-time parent, I am yet to experience the most challenging moments. Working parents today are juggling both work and taking care of their child or children. This is the reality for most of us, especially parents who can harness remote jobs wherein they can work in the comfort of their own homes.
The idea of being able to juggle both work and parenting seems amazing, but in reality, it can be damaging to our mental health. As a first-time mother, I experienced this firsthand and I felt completely hopeless it affected my productivity at work as I became overwhelmed with filling both roles.
Thus, these kinds of situations parents go through can highly affect their mental health which then leads to problems in the workplace, which started as small things like missing a few quick tasks until I found myself resenting the job I used to enjoy. I found myself weeping and crying at the end of my shift feeling helpless and unable to communicate until I decided to do what seemed to be a solution at the moment, which is to tender my resignation.
My boss Sheikh Nasser, to my surprise, was more disappointed that I did not share my situation, rather than the fact that I leave my post, most employers would not care what you go through and would rather focus on the things you will leave behind at work but not my boss, he was sad that I have not shared this vulnerable moment and he could have helped me in the best way he can.
The relief that I felt, hearing the words of support and understanding made me bawl my eyes out and I started to explain how things at home had become very overwhelming and that I am struggling to balance work and taking care of my family. After our emotional talk, the help that I received was more than what most employers can give, it was an arms-length help that I felt even if we were thousands of miles away.
I was given time to sort out what is the best arrangement and seek professional help for post-partum depression, Sheikh Nasser has kindly given me time to discuss with my husband and of course, prioritize my health as well. The comfort of being able to express what I feel without any judgment is already a huge blessing but instead, I received more than what I asked for including the support of my coworkers and more:
I received an outpour of support and understanding
There are many ways to help and support working parents within your organization, open communication from your HR and top management is already an indication that working parents can reach out for support anytime, but what I received was more than professional and standard support, I received an outpour of support from my coworkers who has sent me warm messages, and assurance that even if we have not met each other in person and we are miles away, they assured me that they have my back.
As a first-time parent, I was being hard on myself and being such a perfectionist that I forgot to commend myself for doing the best that I can. My coworkers and teammates made sure that my efforts were acknowledged and known. The overwhelming mental health support in the workplace was amazing and heartwarming and it pushed me to seek the help that I need.
We made it your company culture
Mental health support should be available for everyone, not just working parents. for this initiative to take off, make it a part of your company culture. Erase the stigma and taboo on discussing mental illness, as this can result in your valued employees feeling that they are not being supported in every possible way.
Especially with working parents, as parenting can be both a wonderful yet overwhelming journey, they need as much support from every member of the team. Hence, Cinemagic has made it their company culture to foster a welcoming environment wherein there can be a safe space for them to discuss their difficulties and challenges and how you as an employer can support their mental health.
I was offered a temporary/flexible work arrangement
Flexible working arrangements are a big help to working parents. Giving them the freedom to fulfill their job responsibilities at a certain time and place. Working parents like me may have different needs, hence your organization can come up with flexible working arrangements for them to cater to their needs, just like how Cinemagic has catered to my current needs.
My boss offered a part-time position till I sort out my personal and mental health issues as cannot afford to work full-time at the moment, the full-time position was open until I can organize my responsibilities as a parent and employee.
I received guidance on medical & mental health support
One of the most important support you can give to working parents in terms of making sure they are overall physically and mentally healthy. Physically, parenting can be very demanding and of course mentally, hence guidance on medical and mental health support is very important, and this can extend to all employees as well.
As an organization, Cinemagic supported me by constantly checking if I was able to attend my regular counseling sessions, my teammates who were parents as well have shared how they manage working at home while being a 24/7 parent, being able to relate to my other coworkers has helped me to handle challenges that come with working at home and being a first-time parent.
A simple how are you? how are your baby and your husband meant so much in the moments where I felt lost and
Having family-friendly policies can benefit working parents and all of your employees regardless of gender, or employment status. Being able to promote a culture where workers are comfortable using policies can ease their stress, fear, and burden. Policies most often are misunderstood and can lead to fear of employees being penalized for their decisions.
Most of the time, employees' responsibilities with their families get neglected and this leads to more mental health issues. Promoting family-friendly policies can help your employees lead a healthy work lifestyle and balance their responsibilities. As employers, you play a critical role in expanding this kind of policy for working parents to feel supported and acknowledged.
This kind of support is very inexpensive and can also be of help to all of your employees, especially working parents. Working parents can feel isolation, pressure, and hopelessness as their problems within their home can be more complex. Most of the time they are shy to express themselves and embarrassed to communicate their challenges at home which can affect their mental health and productivity at work.
Keeping open communication between all of your employees can reduce their feelings of anxiety and isolation. Sometimes all they need is just someone to talk to with their worries and concerns, they may not need an immediate solution for their problems but a good talk can bring great change and assurance.
Working with the best people
As a working parent and a first-time mother in the past 10 months, I have had moments wherein I had to choose between my responsibilities as a parent and an employee. Our job demands may vary but one thing is for sure we experience challenges and unhealthy practices that can lead to the decline of our mental health.
To this day being a working parent has good and bad days, but with the help of my Cinemagic Family, I have found calmness and support in the workplace. I have colleagues whom I can relate to when it comes to parenting, and a very understanding boss to whom I can open up whenever I get overwhelmed and feel vulnerable.