In a recent interview with QNA, Sharmila Bhowmick, a senior journalist as well as a mom to a 10-year-old girl, spoke candidly about the challenges of being a working mum and shared her secret mantras too to tackle them.
Sharmila Bhowmick, who is also an author and a speaker, is currently working with The Times of India. In addition, she hosts a weekly podcast – Selflove With Sharmila.
Here’s what the seasoned journalist has to say on the occasion of Mother’s Day:
As Mother’s Day is going to be celebrated on May 10, how are you planning to make this beautiful occasion a memorable one amid the Coronavirus-induced lockdown?
Sharmila Bhowmick: Mother’s Day reminds us to be grateful to the woman who has brought us to this world and nurtured us. Each year, my daughter makes a beautiful paper card on this day, and we usually celebrate it in some way. Being a mom is a non-stop round the calendar job – Mother’s day is a single day to remember the wonderful things we do all through the year as moms.
Striking an equilibrium between work and motherhood is not an easy task, especially in the field of journalism. So how do you manage your personal and professional life?
Sharmila Bhowmick: Work and home balance is not easy, but work and home balance is key for working mothers. For me, I have a strict and well-defined schedule around work and home and I make sure I get enough time to look into my daughter’s study needs. We do hang out a lot – making that space for your children is important in your life – so you know what is going on in theirs.
Today, a constant dilemma of ‘career vs family’ is being faced by a large proportion of working mothers. How do you view this conundrum?
Sharmila Bhowmick: Work and family are both important – gone are the days when women just wanted to be homemakers. But how do we balance? We balance things through prioritizing. Address the most important priorities first. Rationing time properly to things that bring you the key results and avoiding time wasters are the best way to optimize your time at home as well as at work. Spend quality time with children over specific activities. At the office – spread out work in a way that you achieve more in less time – these are some working-mom multitasking tricks.
What’s the hardest thing about being a working mom; and what’s the best thing?
Sharmila Bhowmick: The hardest thing about a working mom is that you can get too stretched on resources, you may not get enough rest, you may not be able to spend time with your kid when they get back home. But the best part of being a working mom is that your child learns to emulate a confident independent person who has goals and a routine. Children learn by observing their parents. Also when you are working, you can plan special occasions together – holidays, days out, and more experiences that you can afford.
Women journalists face several challenges, including unfair representation, negative societal attitudes, and the gender pay gap. Do you think media organizations should ensure gender equality?
Sharmila Bhowmick: Media houses have come a long way over the last 20 years. I remember once being the only girl reporter in a newsroom when I started. It is not so bad now. Things have changed, technology has made it an even playground for all and your gender doesn’t create any special opportunity professionally – you just come on board with your skillset. I’ve never faced discrimination because of being a woman when it comes to opportunities. The so-called ‘boys’ club’ days are over and dead. Media is now a marketplace for ideas and execution – gender should not hamper its free-flow.