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BABY IN THE OFFICE?

Many keep up with the Kardashian-Jenners for various purposes; to love, to entertain themselves, to hate. Whatever the reason, they have become one of the most influential families in the fast-track showbiz world, and maybe beyond. I am not the most avid fan out there, but I do like to watch an episode of their reality show from time to time. I think they are quite an amusing bunch.

Two days ago a video containing a member of the clan surfaced on my YouTube ‘recommended’ feed, and I indulged myself. If it was for any reason I wanted to see the amazing trick Kylie Jenner was performing to make a twenty-something minute long YouTube video rake in over 2 million views in less than 24hours. Then again, she could literally post a video of here sitting down twirling in a chair and still have millions of views, because she’s…..Kylie Jenner. She wasn’t twirling around any chair in this video however; it actually was a video dairy of – as she titled it- a day in her life, or in YouTube lingo, a vlog (video + log of events= vlog, get it?) . I guess it was an attempt at giving her audience a closer look at her life-between managing her growing beauty and skincare brands, raising her daughter and enjoying her social relationships.

At some point during this so-called typical day she was joined by her one- year old daughter in her office. The two had a little fun before she let her toddler go play in her nursery, created for her and located in one of the rooms in the office. After showing viewers a short clip of Stormi-that’s her daughter’s name-playing with her toys and what not, the camera turned to Kylie who then explained that balancing work life and mom life could be challenging, so she had that in mind when her office space was being created and made sure her little one had a place to play in so she could always be with her.

At that point I paused the video, because so many thoughts flooded my mind. Because at that point I begun to imagine how better off the mum-work balance would be if every 9-5 working woman with a little child had a nursery set up and running properly in the building she was working in.

Whether it’s a billionaire beauty mogul, a successful lawyer, or a market trader, if there is one thing all working mums can agree on, it’s this: balancing work life and mum life is hard. Sometimes becoming a stay-at-home mum not just a feasible option, and many make the choice of going back to work few months after birthing their babies. The enterpreneurs have more flexibility on their side, however not all new mums own their company, so many are still employed by an organization. The companies give a three-month duration for maternity leave on an average. So our New Mom is back to work in less than four mouths, leaving Baby behind at home in the care of his/her grandmother, aunt or a paid help. Soon enough Baby turns 1 and, because daycare services are not really catered to in these parts, Baby is whisked off to some kindergarten/reception and is already in a nursery school by the time he/she turns 2.

The age at which the average Nigerian child begins school is getting younger and younger. I really wonder the business a two year old has in a Nursery 1 class learning all the alphabets and letters. Ideally a child should be at least five years old before he/she enters a formal schooling system. Children prior to that age benefit more from supervised play and exploration of their surroundings than sitting in classrooms for hours. You may want to point fingers at people who send off their wards to school at such an early age, but then you remember that those children have no where else to stay. With all the absurd horror stories of helps and their undoings that we read of, parents find it better to leave their children in a school environment than in the hands of a househelp. It just is the safer option here.

I’m not going to lie and say daycare centres do not exist, because they do. However problems arise when the daycare is too far from home, or when the cost of enrolling a child is above the means of the family (because the owners of the daycare centre must pay rent, renew the NEPA bill, and buy fuel for the generator). If an already-existing establishment really wants to, creating or converting a room in a suitable section of the workspace to a mini-nursery may be a cost-effective option for these mothers.

Daycares in work spaces will bring much benefit with them. Contrary to what some believe, I think that productivity of these mothers will increase. Their babies are close by, their minds will be at peace, hence they will be able to put more into work. I’m very sure that if I ask my mum what was on her mind the most when I or my brother was newly enrolled in ‘reception’, she would tell you it was us, it was making sure she left work early enough to drive down and pick us early enough. All this worry and extra fuel cost is cancelled with an in-office daycare.

Of course there needs to be a lot of planning and rule-setting concerning this, as with everything, but I still believe it will be an advantage more often than not. The typical work space is this way because the people who bear most of the brunt unfortunately did not make most of the rules of what is conventional and acceptable in the workplace. I do not blame anyone: the men probably did not understand or think it as important. There is an Igbo saying that it is those that are wearing the shoe that know where it pinches. For many years in history where women were not permitted to take on office jobs. However the times have changed, and more women are working office jobs and simultaneously birthing their babies, so they need to be taken consideration of in the workplace.

For many companies it’s all about the profit. But it shouldn’t be that way. When employers hire women who fall into this demographic they should be catered for. I appreciated that portion of the Kylie video, because her workspace factored in her child’s wellbeing. Raising a child to be a good contribution to themselves and society is no easy feat, and when the power is within your reach you should strive to make sure that joggling the two caps of mother and worker does not become an impossibility. Making the lives of these increasing demographic of working women easier is almost guaranteed to improve their effectiveness in the workplace and help them to be better mothers. It’s a win-win for everyone eventually.

Thank you for reading.

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-Ada&HerTune

By Ada & Her Tune.

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