After an eight-year lucrative career as an investment banker, Mary Oginni decided to quit her job. Her decision was fuelled by the realisation that she was gradually becoming like a stranger to her three children.
“My work took me out of my house by 6am every weekday and sometimes I didn’t return until nine or 10pm. By that time, my kids were already asleep, so there was hardly any time for me to build my relationship with them.” According to Mrs. Oginni, she had been toying with the idea of resigning her job for months, but finally made the decision when two of her children opted to stay at home with their nanny on a day when she wanted to take them out.
“I was shocked to find out that my kids preferred to stay with their nanny rather than with me. My youngest child is just nine months and he can’t talk, but the two older ones did not want to go out with me. I was hurt and embarrassed and decided then to spend more time with my kids because they were more important than my job.”
Working mothers in every society are faced with the challenge of finding adequate care for their children while they are at work. Children, especially babies and toddlers require round the clock attention from a proper care giver. Many mothers agree that when adequate care and attention is given to their children in their absence, it not only gives them peace of mind but improves their performance at work. However, in some cases, some have had to give up their jobs in order to care for their children.
For Bola Adewale, a fashion designer and mother of two, she didn’t wait until she had her first child before resigning from her tasking bank job.
“Before I got married, I didn’t have any problem with my job. But as soon as I got married, I realised it was keeping me away from my husband who runs his own business and can be at home anytime he wants. A few months into my marriage, I got pregnant and knew I couldn’t afford to stay away from my children so I resigned and went to polish my skills in fashion designing. I don’t regret my decision.”
The financial contribution of mothers to the family, however, is the major factor that prevents women from making decisions such as resigning lucrative jobs in order to cater for their babies. This point was raised by Rita Fafunwa, the founder of Family Life Foundation, an organisation dedicated to improving family values and peace within the family.
“We all know that the mother of a child is the best person to cater for the child, especially in the first few years of the child’s life. But in these turbulent economic times, there are many financial responsibilities to worry about. Talk of good food, shelter, clothing, school fees, transportation and so on. If the father is not able to handle these responsibilities alone, the mother will have to support him. Resigning her job to cater for the children is a hard decision for a mother to make, when she knows her income is needed to care for these same children.” In such cases, Mrs. Fafunwa advises that the services of a nanny, should be employed or the children be put in the care of a trusted family member. In a situation whereby the resignation of a mother is necessary, Mrs. Fafunwa says it must be the joint decision of both the mother and father.
A father of two, Nelson Adah reiterates this view adding that his wife cannot make the decision to quit her job on her own without consulting him because he will definitely object.
“If my wife decides to quit her job now, it won’t be good at all for the family because her financial contribution to our family is still needed.” However, for Mrs. Oginni, her resolve to quit her job is already yielding good returns in her relationship with her children.
“I will still work again but it will be my private business where I can choose my work hours. For now, I have been at home with my kids for months and their grades at school have really improved. I cook for them, take them out, and I’m having the time of my life.”