Working full time is taking a toll on many women’s physical and emotional health in the Kingdom, as in addition to work they also have to tend to their children and look after the household chores.
Working mothers are suffering from agonizing guilt of leaving their children unattended for long hours during the day. In order to spend more time with their families and look after the household affairs, working mothers have turned themselves into superwoman.
To give quality time to everyone and everything, working women catch up on their house work late at night, which deprives them off proper sleep and rest.
Saudi women are admitting that they cannot do all the work on their own now, and they need help and moral support from husband, family members and friends, especially those who do not have domestic help.
They have also requested their employers in both the private and government sector to reduce the required working hours for women.
Khadija Al-Ahmadi, a nurse, told Al-Madinah newspaper, “I am a full time nurse and I have six children and my husband has left the responsibility of caring for them and tending to their needs entirely on me.
“I do not even have domestic help which compels me to wake up at the crack of dawn to prepare breakfast and do some quick cleaning before I go to work, and my shift lasts until 4 in the afternoon. My job keeps me on my feet all day long and is highly stressful. I arrive back home exhausted and drained yet there is no time for rest because my children deserve my time and attention.”
Al-Ahmadi added, “Due to the immense pressure from work and the children’s demands, I acknowledge that I am falling short with the household duties. I urge the Ministry of Civil Services to pass a law that would shorten the working hours for mothers, so that we can fulfill our duties to our families as well.”
One successful Saudi woman who started out as an accountant at a local bank gradually climbed the career ladder until she was appointed a senior position. However, after having children, it became difficult for her to juggle between her career and family. The mother’s employer refused to cut down on her working hours. As a result she had to quit her job of 12 years and stay at home to look after her children.
Asmaa said, “My entire day was eaten up by work and its accompanying pressures. By the time I reach ed home after a long and tough day, I was too tired to do anything. I just wanted to sit. I could not perform simple household chores or take my children out for recreation or run important errands for their needs.
“In the beginning, I had tried to battle my exhaustion and take care of all of my children’s and the home’s needs but that just wore me down. I started suffering from an overwhelming guilty conscience for not being the best mom and housewife, which then led me into a bout of irritability, social withdrawal, and finally depression.”
Asmaa further said she felt like a failure as a mother and felt terrible neglecting her children. So when she feared that her psychological health would deteriorate even further, she decided to resign.
“My children need me most and they are more worthy of my time, attention, energy, and help than any job. I stay at home with the children and now my husband is looking for a second job because he can no longer rely on my salary that used to help meet the financial expenses of our home and family,” explained Asmaa.
If Asmaa’s employer had been more flexible and understanding, or if there was an order from the government that stated short working hours for mothers, then mothers like Asmaa wouldn’t have to choose between her job or family.
“Women play an essential role in maintaining a healthy, stable, and educated society because they are to a greater extent responsible for teaching, rearing, and guiding the younger generations.
“In light of the tremendous responsibility resting on women’s shoulders, the government and private sector must lessen the burden of the working mother and allow shorter working hours so that she can serve both her community and her children. Governmental organizations and private companies should make available the option of well paid part-time work for women,” said Dr. Suaad Al-Ansari.