Here is an exclusive interview with a Career Mum this series, we are privileged to meet Nonye Cally-Bechi, a career mum with wonderful 3 Kids.
Nonye Cally Bechi She’s a training Consultant, Personal Branding & Development Coach. Soft Skills Trainer
She has been involved in training, coaching and consulting for more than 12 years with the intention of increasing profit, productivity, and the performance of people. She is married and blessed with 3
Motherhoodng: At what age did you start to leave your child as a career mum
Nonye: At three months. I was privileged to have a crèche in my office. So I started leaving my babies in the crèche from 3 months. Because of the proximity of the crèche; I go in to feed I also express. So for all my children, it was at from 3 months.
Motherhoodng: What are roles you don’t delegate at home as a working mum?
Nonye: Cooking for now. Maybe later in my professional and business life, I will hire a cook.
Motherhoodng : Do you have a support system as a career mum? (Daycare/nanny/others)
Me: Yes, as I mentioned earlier, the nanny at the crèche was quite supportive. Then my sister. She is an amazing person. Though she works but has been so helpful and supportive. She is my number one support system. When I had my first baby I had no nanny/help so it was husband, very helpful and understanding. I also relied on the nanny in my office. After my baby clocked one I got a help of about 15 years old, I had to enrol her in a school.
Motherhoodng : If you use a Daycare service, briefly describe your experience?
Me: I can’t recall any bad experience. The nanny in the office crèche was and still is an amazing person, and the children are very comfortable with her. Even when the job takes you out of the office all day she takes care of the babies like she would her own babies.
Motherhoodng : If you engage the service of a Nanny or housemaid, Please share your experience briefly?
Nonye: Yes, I engaged the services of a housemaid, when my baby was a year plus. Truth is, as we always say housemaids are a necessary evil. My kind of job was highly demanding, I also drive a long distance to work. My main reason initially for getting a help was that I needed someone in the car with the baby. Before then, I know how many times I had to pull over to feed while stuck in traffic. Sometimes you can’t pull out easily to feed. Again, after a hard days job you are mentally and physically exhausted you don’t want to major in minor things such as the household’s chores, like cleaning, dishwashing blab la. These little things will further drain you. So getting a help to assist will help you to function better the next day at work. My house help goes to school, so we all leave and come back home together. However, she started well, but few months down the line she started misbehaving. Eventually, she left the house when I was pregnant with my second child and needed her the most. So it was not really a good experience for me. After that, it took a long while before I got another one, by then the second baby was also a year plus.
Motherhoodng: How do you deal with the guilt that comes with not being with your kids all the time as a career mum?
Nonye: As a career mum, I go to work with my children every other day. It sounds interesting because it’s assumed they are with you all the time. But it has its own challenges. For me, the guilt comes when I close late from work or when being stuck in traffic for hours. I look at them and say to myself these children should be in bed and not in traffic at this time.
Motherhoodng : Have you missed a moment in your child’s life that you regret?
Nonye: So many times, like not going for some school activities. It even worse when my husband and I can’t attend. I recall my daughter saying to me one day that I must attend her birthday in school. Because when her classmates celebrate their birthdays, their mummy, daddy and aunties come around. Recently, it was Children’s day event; they kept on reminding me that I must be there, unfortunately, I was away that period on official work, Sad though. But, I am learning every day to prioritize and make those moments memorable for them.
Motherhoodng : Were you able to do exclusive breastfeeding for your baby?
Nonye: Absolutely, I did six months exclusive for my first and second baby, for the third baby I stopped at 5 months and two weeks. Thanks to my office @Poise Nigeria. They make it easy for nursing mothers.
Motherhoodng : Do you have dinner with your children all the time?
Nonye: Not every time.
Motherhoodng : What’s your strategy to ensure your involvement in your child’s education?
Nonye: It is work in progress, but what I usually do is to make out time for most weekends to go through their books and we talk about the things they were taught in school. What I don’t miss out every day is to call and ask what they were taught in school so I can follow up.
Motherhoodng : In your opinion, what’s the hardest part of being a career mum?
Nonye: For me, it is waking my children up too early every working day because we all have to the leave the house at the same time. It is hard because I don’t want to leave them at home for any nanny to do school runs or whatsoever. The most difficult for me right now is the fact that I shuttle between the mainland and Island. This is because my office is on the Island, and most part of the week I stay there with the children. Though that changed slightly a few months ago.
Motherhoodng : Can you give us an insight into what your typical daily routine is like?
Nonye: As early as 4 am I’m awake. I usually start with a devotion that sometimes lasts for 10 – 15 minutes it depends. After that, I quickly dash into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. While I fix the breakfast, my husband and the house help assist to bath the children. Sometimes I drop them off at school and sometimes my husband goes to pick them. The period they stayed with me at Lekki was the toughest. Though it was for a period and their school was on the mainland. In fact, it was a little complicated but had a colleague who helped with the school run. It sounds easy but tough. Sometimes I wonder where the energy is coming from, lol. It’s God all the way.
Motherhoodng : How do you achieve a work-family balance?
Nonye: Hmmm, work-family balance is a serious concern. Personally, I have come to accept that motherhood is part of who I am as a woman, and who I am including my work and career and everything that I do. As a new mum then, I usually feel guilty for not giving my child the kind of attention she deserves. Truth is once you accept that motherhood is part of who you are it changes everything and how you see your working life. That is why during the periods I was exclusively breastfeeding my babies I travel with them when duty calls. It not because of it convenient, but how much milk can you express to satisfy the baby when you are going to be away for 3 – 4 days. I usually don’t travel with a nanny, so that makes it difficult for me as a trainer who is required to stand for long hours teaching. What I normally do is to get someone, especially the office assistants around to assist me. On one of my frequent trips, my baby won’t just let anyone touch or carry her. I had to put her on my back to facilitate. Thankfully, the people I was training were kind enough to understand.
The first time I had to travel with my baby (my first child) she was below six months, I almost was going to introduce formula unprepared. But on a second thought, I said to myself please it is a human being you are going with now. So, to fellow career mothers out there accept this fact because it helps to change your mindset. You will feel relieved and less pressured. As the children are growing to get support if you can, and don’t ever compare yourself with other mums whom you think are having it smoothly. Find what works for you.
Motherhoodng : What flexibility can employers of labour incorporate to identify with the demands of being a career mum?
Nonye: I think what the Federal government through the Ministry of Labour had done recently is a right step in the right direction. They just announced that maternity leave has been increased from 3 months to four months, this is quite commendable. The private corporations should emulate this gesture too. Organisations like Poise Nigeria and few others out there are doing it. In addition, organisations should make provisions for a crèche within the premises to assist and support nursing mothers. Flexible working hours, especially when you are caring for 0 -12 months old babies and toddlers should be encouraged. Employers too should be empathetic and considerate when there are exigencies.
Motherhoodng : Has raising a family affected your career growth/progression?
Nonye: My organization supports women development and growth. I strongly believe in working hard and being committed to what I do. In my organization, if you work hard and you deserve a promotion you get it. But on a personal development level, I would say it kind of affected me. Because there times I just want to read, so I feel I don’t have enough time to read the way I would love to because of my love for books and quest for knowledge. That does not mean that I don’t read at all. I do but not as often. Though it is a temporary situation because the children are growing.
Motherhoodng: Any advice for the first-time career mum?
Nonye: For a first-time career mum, first, accept who you are, prepare mentally, physically and psychologically by accepting that motherhood will be a part of your working life. The decisions and the steps you would take going forward will affect both. You need to understand that birthing a life is one of the greatest things that will give you a sense of fulfilment. It changes your worldview because it is an added responsibility, but it doesn’t define who you are. You have stepped into an enviable new role that you should be proud of. Give yourself time to heal and love who you have become. The job of bringing a life into the world is not an easy one. It took your body a whole nine month to develop and nurture this new life. Therefore, give it time to heal and adjust. Worrying too much about your body and how you look can lead to unnecessary anxiety and depression which will, in turn, affect your mental wellbeing. This will, in turn, affect your output at work eventually. Don’t ever be shy to accept help and support. Please don’t act like a superwoman. Most importantly, please note that; no one is a fully competent career mother. Those times you feel incapable of doing anything right, expect and accept that those moments will come, and forgive yourself when they do come. Remain focused, keep your areas of competence uncompromised. Celebrate yourself and your victories. Love your husband and baby, give them the attention they deserve. Most of all are prayerful, commit everything I mean everything no matter how trivial to God.
Motherhoodng : We appreciate you for your time.
Nonye: You are welcome
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