Mum And Associate Editor At The Quint, Abira Dhar Shares How Working Mums Can Have It All

Mum And Associate Editor At The Quint, Abira Dhar Shares How Working Mums Can Have It All

20 May 2022 | 9 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 328 Articles

Pregnancy and motherhood do not make working women any less ambitious and it is also not about giving up what they want to do. It is their courage and willpower that helps them find their path to do things. Time management is key to managing life and finding ways to do things that one loves.

In a candid interview with BabyChakra, Abira Dhar, Associate Editor at The Quint shares her experiences as a working mother and how she also manages to create content for her 

1. Tell us about yourself.

I am from a small town called Jamshedpur. From a very early age I knew what I wanted to be, a video journalist. An average student, actually below average who was told she was not good enough. After 18 years here I am Associate Editor at The Quint, mother to a beautiful 3-yr-old baby girl, a content creator living in Mumbai.

2. What motivated you to follow the career path you’ve chosen? 

As a young girl I was very fascinated watching these girls on tv holding mic and reporting news. I always wanted to be in their place. My parents always encouraged me to follow my dreams. So I studied mass communication and then journalism. My first job in Mumbai was internship with BBC in 2008 and since then there was no looking back.

3. How do you manage to do content creation, a full-time job, a home and a toddler?

So my biggest support system are my in-laws. I stay with them so half of my stress is taken care of and my nanny who comes for 8hrs. So I can go to work without any worry.

As a content creator, I always try to make time over weekends and in the afternoon when my daughter is sleeping. I have to constantly micro manage time so that I can fit in everything that’s the reason I wake up at 4.30 AM. I steal some me time before the world wakes up. That’s how I can squeeze in a lot in 24 hours.

We sleep by 9:30 at night and that’s how I constantly keep up with a schedule to manage everything. I have deadlines to meet at work and hence not following a routine can make things haywire.

4. How was your pregnancy journey, did you face any challenges?

My pregnancy journey was pretty smooth. I was very active and worked throughout my pregnancy.
Used to travel by local train from Dahisar to Prabhadevi everyday. I worked till 14th Jan and from 15th I could feel mild labour pains and finally on 17th Jan I got admitted at 5.30am and at 9.30am I delivered my beautiful baby girl. It was a normal delivery and thankfully I didn’t even have to take an epidural. It was a beautiful experience.

Abira believes that equal parenting is not just about raising the child, but also dividing other responsibilities in the house.

5. Husbands play a crucial role in bringing up a child, what are your views on equal parenting? How has your hubby helped you co-parent?

I completely believe in equal parenting and it’s not just raising the child but also dividing other responsibilities in the house. While today we both are involved equally, we had our share of challenges at the beginning where we had disagreements.

My husband is used to living with parents and for him everything has been always taken care of. So I had to take a stand and explain him about dividing work equally and to take equal responsibilities.

It was during the lockdown when I was overwhelmed with chores, baby, work. I had to ask him to step in because I was mentally not in a good space. Frustration was pentting up and it was all coming out on my little one. That’s when I decided to take professional help so I started therapy.

Even my husband came around and now he is a hands-on dad.

6. How has being a working mum changed your relationship with your child and husband?

I have a very beautiful balance as I love my job as much as I love my child and so I constantly let her know when I need to go to work. She is very understanding and mentally prepares herself on days I go to the office as we are currently following a hybrid mode of work.

I let my daughter know that I have work which is important and that she is important too. I do not want to choose between either of them. I wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of my husband as he has always encouraged me to work and tells me that our daughter will adjust. He knows I am the happiest when I am working so that helps me be a good mom when I am home.

My child, in-laws and my partner are my backbones. When working from the office, I do not have to worry about things at home, because my in-laws take care of my daughter so well.

7. From your personal experience, how soon do you think mums should get back to work after the birth of their child?

This completely depends on the journey of every individual woman and one shouldn’t stress about it. It does not matter how soon or how late you get back to work, but it is important that you are ready for it mentally and physically. Even if you don’t want to go back to work, it is your choice but you should be happy about your decision.

I got back to work after 6 months of having my baby as I was missing work a lot. And I knew my baby was taken care of.

8. How did you take care of your fitness post-delivery?

I was 74 kg before I got pregnant so when Arohi, my daughter was born, I told myself that I need to make use of my maternity leave. I went to stay with my parents for five months and started working out in March – which was two months after my delivery. I could exercise because I was fit enough and lost 16 kgs gradually. I’d say after giving birth to my baby, I have found a new me. I have never been this fit or dedicated ever.

Abira says that it’s wrong how some work places assume that a woman cannot work well during pregnancy

9. Do you think workplaces in India are understanding when it comes to pregnancy and maternity leaves?

I was fortunate to have found a workplace where I was very comfortable and got full support. In fact, I would be asked to take breaks and take it easy.

During pregnancy, I didn’t want anything to change when it came to work. But when I was nine months pregnant, standing and sitting for long hours would make my back hurt. I would get tired very easily so it started making me feel guilty. But that was me nothing to do with my workplace.

However, I have heard that there are many workplaces that are not very understanding when it comes to pregnancy and maternity leaves. Many companies assume that a women are not productive enough during pregnancy or once she’s back from maternity leave. But a woman is always trying to give her best and find a way to balance things out after which she will be back on track. Companies need to give the new mothers space and time to adjust instead of judging them.

10. What’s your parenting style? What are your views on disciplining a child?

I have my share of both good and bad times and feel guilty for being angry at times. But I do practise patience and learn from my mistakes. Communication is important so I make it a point to make her realise any behavioural aspect that she should work on.

While I do not enforce anything on my daughter, there are certain aspects that I’m strict about which I stick by. However, I don’t believe in physically hurting the child to discipline them.

11. What do you think of children and social media since you are in this field?

I don’t think children need to be a part of social media content unless the content is adding value to someone else’s life or spreading awareness on a particular subject. However, a child needs to be comfortable and their consent is important. My daughter is not fond of being clicked so I only do it when she agrees to.

I have seen a lot of influencers who force their children to act up or smile in front of the camera which isn’t right.

12. How much do you think kids should be exposed to media/social media?

I believe that if a child gets clicked by parents and the picture is posted on social media, it’s fine. But, until a certain age, children should be kept away from social media as it can affect their minds.

We as adults go after our follower count, likes and comments and teenagers have already reached that stage too. Kids shouldn’t be bothered about these aspects or how many people love them on social media because they are superficial. I believe in keeping my child minimally exposed to social media.

13. We’ve seen some amazing pictures of you. How did your fashion sense evolve post your baby?

I always loved sarees but after my daughter was born I was finding it difficult to wear a saree and hold her. So I started trying new drapes because I do not like making choices between things. Whether it is a saree, baby or career – I want it all and I found a way to have it all!

Abira proves that if you are passionate about doing something, you find ways to balance both work and home. Managing time is key and it is important to find time for yourself as well.

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