How does she do it? Balancing motherhood and work
Technical Writer at Kaspersky
How do you maintain productivity at work while trying to bring up children? Being both a professional and a mother seems to require exceptional time management skills, efficiency and stress resistance - or does it?
Maria Makeeva, Technical Writer at Kaspersky and a mother of two, started working in IT during her maternity leave. Here she shares her insights on the matter.
Look at your job as a hobby
Working and being a parent requires a huge amount of physical, mental and emotional resources. However, you can find the necessary balance by changing your focus. Try to modify your perspective and view your job as a place where you can take your mind off the household. Communicating with colleagues, visiting the office and performing tasks can be a good “escape”, acting as a way to not only fulfill your professional ambitions, but to also get some much needed “me time”. This is particularly helpful during those times in which a parent can feel extra vulnerable as they adapt to the major life changes that come with parenthood.
Choose a profession that appeals to you
However, for this to be a successful strategy, it is crucial that you really love what you do. In the beginning, caring for children takes almost all of your time, but this can also be an opportunity to think about where you are in your professional life and where you would like to move next. Consider hobbies or jobs that always attracted you but seemed too difficult or out of reach. You can begin researching ideas and start listening to basic courses in the background. Then, once you have enough information, the path to getting where you want to go will start to uncover itself. When I was on my maternity leave, for example, I wrote fiction because it was a way to maintain my writing skills. Then I got the great opportunity to switch to technical documentation because my friends knew I could write really fast.
Do not be afraid to switch careers
Look for the things that inspire you and, if they lie in another sphere, don’t be afraid to take up something new. While beginning to raise my second daughter, I decided to switch to a completely new field and entered IT. I was a senior specialist at my previous job, so it was not easy being demoted to a junior and starting over. However, it ended up being the beginning of a wonderful and captivating journey. I am grateful to that I was brave enough to take the leap and embark on it. What’s more, the times when companies did not give you a job if you had a small child have passed – in Kaspersky, I found a company that not only supported my professional ambitions but also supported my role as a young mother.
If you are looking for a job while on maternity leave or have decided to change career paths, take part in professional communities and look through peers’ CVs to search for job ideas. Not only is this an opportunity to find inspiration, but it is also the perfect space for communicating and finding mentors. For relevant information about work in cybersecurity, check the Women in Cybersecurity community.
Accept the necessity of self-education
Of course, coming back from maternity leave to work can be stressful when trying to keep pace with your colleagues or becoming a junior specialist if you have switched fields. Give yourself time and provide yourself with opportunities for further education: follow relevant professional blogs, take part in online communities, ask colleagues for help, etc. Being a student is an adventure, so if you continue to learn even after having kids, you are a true explorer and should enjoy the journey!
Be inspired by your kids
Your kids can motivate you to go further and even develop new hobbies. Treat them as people with their own interests, and even sometimes as friends. We have always created a welcoming environment wherein our kids could feel comfortable to reveal their talents. My eldest daughter is fond of drawing and painting and dreams of becoming an illustrator, while my youngest is a born programmer who uses Scratch (a programming language for kids) and likes mathematics. Picking up new hobbies together and helping each other can lead to wonderful family relationships as well as personal development. My daughter and I often, for example, draw together and even won a drawing competition recently at Kaspersky - our drawing will be printed on the company’s new T-shirts.
Share experience with colleagues
If you have colleagues with kids, this can be a perfect situation because you have the opportunity to share experiences, successes and failures, and help and advice. Help and understanding is highly needed at this period of time, so creating a local community and supporting working mothers and fathers can be valuable to yourself and others. Such groups can serve as the perfect icebreaker, helping you meet other people in similar circumstances.
Get help from your nearest and dearest as well as from your company
When you need assistance, do not hesitate to seek help from family and friends or look for daycare opportunities at work. Delegate duties and use company benefits, which sometimes include playrooms that allow you to take your children to the office and still give them something engaging to do. At Kaspersky, working moms are supported, from additional payments and basic pregnancy benefits to special insurance programs that include free medical care and material support for every child.
Be kind to yourself
Give yourself the time and opportunities to relax. Being a working mom is sometimes very tough, physically and psychologically, so it is important to give yourself moments when you can take your mind off of both your parental and professional duties. Cheer yourself up – do not underestimate the magic of the little things – it may be a cup of coffee in your favorite quiet place or a few pages of your new book. When you feel rested and happy, you bring this feeling to your family and your work, so in the end everyone benefits.