Young moms searching for perfect work-life balance

By Cheng Si | China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-10 08:59
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Liu Chuchu, a 34-year-old customer manager in Beijing, plays with her daughter on a beach in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, in July last year. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Experts say more measures are needed to ensure that women with children can still flourish in the employment market. Cheng Si reports.

There are no easy jobs for adults, let alone for working mothers, who balance their work and busy home lives.

"I usually wake up at about 5:30 am to cook breakfast for my 8-year-old daughter, then rush her to her primary school before 8 am. Then I take the subway to work, and I read and reply to work messages during the one-hour journey," said Li Xinlian, a 37-year-old financial analyst in Beijing.

Li said she faces greater pressure than her husband in terms of work and raising their child. "It's not about financial stress: I have to be more aggressive and work harder to prove my ability or I may be assigned to a marginal position doing unimportant work because the boss is concerned that I might be distracted by family affairs," she said.

"It seems like I'm always living with the fear that my boss will fire me, while also concerned that my little girl lacks motherly love. Every time I feel like I'm having a mental breakdown, I push myself to get through it, and when I've borne such heavy pressure from my work and family I think nothing can destroy me. Maybe being a mother gives me strength? But it's a problem to need support from both my husband and society. Mothers should not be left to face things alone."

Yuan Linghuan, a 30-year-old bank clerk from Fuzhou, Fujian province, gave birth in April. She's also concerned about her work and arranging babysitters.

"I'm still on maternity leave, and it's obvious that it will be very tough for me to balance my work and family in the first days or months after I return to my job. I want to prove that my working ability hasn't declined because of the baby, but I can't bear to leave my little kid at home. I really need a lot of support from both sets of grandparents to help me adapt to my new life," she said.

She added that women seem to shoulder more responsibilities for nurturing children, experiencing greater pressure than men in balancing work and life. "Some colleagues even finished their maternity leave early to safeguard their jobs. Women start getting into the role of being a parent during pregnancy, while men may not be changed that much by a baby. The man's role as the 'father' is usually taken by the mother, grandparents or nannies," she said.

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