How to balance a career with 'Potential Motherhood'

How to balance a career with ‘Potential Motherhood’

Jacinda Ardern
It only took seven hours for New Zealand’s new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern to be asked about her potential motherhood.

Ardern was first asked on television if she felt she had to make, or had already made, a decision between having babies and a career.

But it quickly got worse. A radio journalist later demanded she outline her future motherhood plans, claiming that New Zealanders have a right to know if their potential PM might have a baby.

Potential motherhood is getting as complicated to balance as motherhood, especially when dealing with reporters, employers or family members who still need to learn to mind their own business.

We already know how to balance motherhood and a career: A google search of ‘How to have it all’ returns 194,000,000 results, many of them being articles and blog posts telling you how to retain your sanity while somehow attempting to be in two places at once.

But how do you balance potential motherhood? Well here are some ideas.

Earn more. Maybe you will have kids, maybe you won’t. Regardless, if you’re working full-time, you’ll be earning an average 16% less than your male counterparts, a figure that rises significantly in certain industries. You’ll take an earnings hit with every child you have — so find some additional income streams, or get those bonuses happening before any potential motherhood becomes a reality.

Start saving. Again, kids or not, your superannuation balance won’t be anything like that of your male counterparts when you retire. Women retire with an average $80,000, according to recent research by Per Capita for the Australian Services Union. That’s enough to live on for about three years. Three years! And that’s living basically, not with the overseas travelling you might have planned. Potential motherhood means you may be more likely to take career breaks and work part time, leaving you with long stints of earning little to no superannuation.

Get your potential child on a few childcare waiting lists. My youngest just got accepted into our childcare centre of choice, almost two years after I put him on the list. Too bad we’d moved about 25 kilometres out of the way by that point. Who knew I had to put him down a good year or so before he was conceived! Well now you know.

Get on with your job. This comes courtesy of former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clarke, who was asked on Twitter if she had any advice for Jacinda Ardern following the potential motherhood questions. Her response? “Ignore the sexist attack and get on with the job.”

Have your ‘mind your own business’ answer ready to go. Jacinda Ardern’s initial response to her potential babies was clear: “I have no problem with you asking me that question because I have been very open about discussing that dilemma because I think probably lots of women face it.” But asked the second time, Ardern wasn’t so thrilled with the line of questioning, saying it was “totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace. It’s unacceptable. It is unacceptable.” That’s a good line to remember.

Rip up the carpets. Floorboards are easier to clean than carpets when dealing with serving potential weetbix to toddlers.

Finally, Always say yes to help. 

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