If you’re a Muslim working mum like me, then you’ll know that working life comes with frantic schedules, stigmatised remarks and a whole lot of guilt loaded into each and every day. But embracing the beauty of motherhood along with establishing a fulfilling career is possible; balance is possible.
I remember one day I broke down in front of my mother-in-law as I was overwhelmed with the day-to-day, with a messy toddler on the highchair, soggy Weetabix all over the kitchen floor and a work deadline floating on my head. She reminded me of the renowned Quranic verse, “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” so here are some valuable tips for my fellow mums who feel like it’s all getting too much; you’ve got this, mama!
Many mothers are faced with difficult choices to make every single day, and without knowing their personal circumstances, society is merciless when it comes to labelling them as selfish if they choose to work.
Name me one Muslim working mum who hasn’t had a judgmental remark thrown her way. The truth is, no matter what we do in life, there will be judgment. From bottle feeding your newborn to sending your toddler to daycare, the comments are persistent when it comes to motherhood.
This is where we need to embrace the fact that Allah knows. Whether you’re working to save up for the future or simply to immerse your soul in something that makes you feel like you’re adding value to the world, our intention to work as a mother is known by the one who created us.
Allah has gifted us, mothers, with the resources, character traits, and the ability to take on the world’s most important yet challenging role of motherhood, with this in mind, know that he has also given us the ability to live a fulfilling life where we can work and raise happy and secure children at the same time.
It’s common to feel like you’re not able to put your all into work or into parenting, quite often, we working mums end up feeling like we’re half-assing everything we do. At work, we think about dinner time for the kids, and with the kids, we think about the upcoming work presentation.
Being present is essential, think of it as putting on a physical hat, a work hat, and a mum hat; you cannot physically wear both at one time, so when you’re working, try and focus on the task at hand and once with your precious little one, ignore those emails and chores that can be done later on.
From those extra hours in the morning to the hours after the kids are asleep, time is your best friend when it comes to life as a working mum. Post-covid life has allowed most of us to embrace a hybrid work lifestyle, if you’re a remote or hybrid professional like me, it’s best to get to know the hours you work best and run with it!
Remember, only you know when and how you work best and what your day has the capacity for, so try out what works or doesn’t work for you within your time.
When I first started my new job, I was hesitant to celebrate or talk about the little wins in my day; whether I’d published an article for the first time or presented in front of a big client, I would feel the need to hide it away, simply because it wasn’t to do with being a mother.
At this point, I felt guilty about celebrating the parts of my life that had nothing to do with my child. But it shouldn’t be this way, your success deserves to be celebrated and acknowledged, and the first one to do that should be yourself!
First and foremost, thank Allah for giving you the ability to take up the role of a working mother, to be able to be good at your job whilst being an excellent role model to your children!
It’s high time we gave ourselves some credit; let’s start reframing negative self-talk!
Negative self-talk: I was supposed to bathe my son tonight, but he fell asleep because I was working late, I’m a terrible mother.
Instead, you could:
Reframe: Alhamdulillah, I got my work done tonight ahead of my deadline, and my child is comfortably sleeping; I’ll wake up a little bit early tomorrow to shower him in the morning inshaAllah.
You are doing better than you think, it’s important to remind yourself of that!
Ask any mum where she is on her list of priorities; many will tell you they’re last or are not on there at all.
Remember who you were before becoming a mother; you would have worked hard to get to where you are today, not to mention the happening social life you had too. That woman is still there, it’s important to allow yourself some time out, whether it’s seeing a friend, asking for help, getting a facial, or just squeezing in a power nap; self-care goes a long way in feeling refreshed. You need to look after yourself and your happiness because it will radiate through you when you are with a child.
So, to my fellow working mamas, the feeling of guilt is only natural when you’re a mother, you always feel like you can be doing better. Be at peace knowing that you are doing your best and see the perfection in the imperfections of daily life.
I want to end by reflecting on our own mother Khadijah (RSA) who was a successful wife, mother, and businesswoman whose children are promised paradise, and if that isn’t any consolation that being a working mum is empowering and anything but selfish, then I don’t know what is.
Khadija Alam is a Media and Communications Master’s graduate from LSE who currently works as a digital content writer. She is a published poet, freelance writer, wife and mother who is passionate about self-growth, identity, spirituality and healing.