Mommy has to go to work

A familiar refrain in our house is ‘…because mommy has to go to work.’

It goes something like this:  ‘Mommy, why can’t you fetch me early?’

‘Because Mommy has to go to work.’

Or this: ‘Mommy, can we go somewhere fun today?’

‘No, because Mommy has to go to work.’

And sometimes, this:

‘Mommy, can I watch Rug Rats?’

‘No, because Mommy has to go to work and we’ll be late.’

Seems fairly reasonable, right? My children need to attend the school aftercare facility because I work until 4pm. I can’t do anything ‘fun’ during the day with them because I work until 4pm. And I certainly can’t let them watch Rug Rats before we set off in the morning because then I’d be late for my working day.

The question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately is, why can’t I do any of those things and be a working mom?

It wouldn’t take much.

First, South African companies would have to cotton onto the concept of results or production-based management, rather than what BNet calls time-based management. Simply put, it’s “the idea of decoupling time from results.” Of not measuring achievement by time spent at your desk, but rather by what you produce while at work.

It’s not impossible. IBM seems to have managed it. This Women24 article from a couple of years ago says that the company recognises ‘that technology has changed the way we work’ and that they have ‘a policy of measuring output, as opposed to hours in the office, which is tied into a performance management process.’

And a recent article on TopNews says that - surprise, surprise - flexible working hours have a positive impact on employees’ health. ‘Employees who are able to adapt their work schedules to fit in with their wider lives feel better’.


Why can’t more South African companies see that this is a reasonable option?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking for paid time at home to do my garden or watch endless re-runs of soapies. I’m a hard worker. I love working and I’m passionate about doing it well. My ex-husband used to call me the ‘uber-over-achiever’.

All I ask is for a manager to trust me enough to say, ‘Here are your goals. You need to have achieved them by the end of the month. Whether you do that in your pyjamas at home or in a business suit at the office is not my business.’

Until that happy day, I’ll be the one chanting: ‘Because Mommy has to go to work.’

Do employers recognize the challenges of working parents?

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