Fifteen minutes to go. … I checked my watch quickly and sped up filtering work in the spreadsheet.

I suddenly feel motivated when I am asked to work on an urgent task after 5 p.m. as I need to leave the office by 5:45 p.m. at the latest to arrive at the day care by 6:15 p.m.

I am a working mom who has two beautiful daughters, 2 years old and 5 years old.

The same as other working moms, I spend busy days working, parenting and housekeeping. But the only thing I might be different from many working moms is that I never give up to pursue my career.

Working moms in Japan face many challenges after we deliver a child — difficulty finding day care, difficulty securing the same position as before at the office after returning from maternity leave (especially for a senior position or a specialist job), solo parenting due to your husband’s overtime work or business trips (many Japanese male office workers work until late in the evening), difficulty finding a sitter or housekeeping service (there is a lack of resources for both services in central Tokyo due to the increase in working moms) and so on.

Many working moms tend to slow down their work style because of these conditions whether they would like to or not. For example, they move to a department where there is no overtime, or they choose to have shorter hours to secure time to take care of their children after work, or decline a promotion to a management position to avoid further committing to work.

But I think life will become easier for working moms if they have a management position or a specialist job because they can manage tasks as they want. For example, a manager can allocate tasks to her juniors based on what each does best and complete the tasks as a team. A specialist can manage time allocation for tasks as she wants.

Though it may seem paradoxical, to take the initiative at work makes a working mom’s life easier. They may be able to work at home or leave the office earlier when needed as they can manage tasks by themselves. Of course, they may have to join a video conference with coworkers in New York early morning, or check emails by smartphone after a child goes to bed. But managers can still manage when and where they work on each task by themselves. To take the initiative at work is the most important thing working moms can do to balance work and parenting.

Conclusion — working moms, be ambitious! To pursue your career will make your life easier as a result. And above all, it’s fun to work because you can do as you want, but parenting never works out the way you want!


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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