‘My priority in life was my career’: balancing work with motherhood

Deepa Bharakhda discusses deciding to start a family alongside her career, the challenges of juggling her family and work life, and her advice for other working women who are considering having a family.

Deepa Bharakhda discusses deciding to start a family alongside her career, the challenges of juggling her family and work life, and her advice for other working women who are considering having a family.

Tell us a little about your journey into dentistry

At a young age I went through a phase of wanting to be a teacher. I would line my teddy bears and read them a storybook.

I then went on wanting to be a lawyer, and then that changed to a barrister!

During year 10 in high school I was talking to my neighbour who had become a dentist and was telling me what a good profession it was. They were giving me advice to do work experience.

After I did the work experience, I thought ‘this is definitely what I want to pursue!’

Unfortunately when it came to my A-Level exams, I missed out by a grade so the plan was to take up a science based degree and get into dentistry.

I came across a degree in dental technology at Manchester Metropolitan University and decided to take that up in the hope I’d get into Peninsula University in Plymouth.

As I embarked on my final year doing clinics with second year dental students, I decided I wanted to stick to becoming a dental technician. I found the role to be interesting and challenging!

I went on to working in commercial labs that produced NHS and private work. But I soon decided it wasn’t making me happy – I wanted to make restorations that had a positive impact on patients. I wanted to produce work that I was proud of and give patients the smile that they deserve!

Then I landed in a private lab where I’m currently working – Dencraft Leicester. Here I have the opportunity to produce high-end prosthetics work which I am proud of while producing the smiles that our patients deserve!

Did you consciously wait until you had reached a certain place in your career to decide to have a child?

Not really. My priority in life was my career even before I met my husband!

I had a clear goal of what I wanted to achieve before having settled with a baby. I wasn’t a motherly person, but I knew when I met my husband that he definitely wanted kids.

It wasn’t my priority – in fact I had not thought about having kids. I wasn’t ready and I wanted to reach a stage in my life where I was happy with my career and my achievements.

It took a good few years of working hard and getting to a place that I wanted to be at before I decided to have a baby. We couldn’t have had it at a more perfect time. We felt really blessed.

How long after having your child did you return to work?

Good question. I had my baby during the middle of lockdown, so I bagged more maternity leave than I should have had. Having more than a year off was a treat!

I was a first time mum and with no help at all due to lockdown restrictions, so I was looking after my newborn with my husband. I did not doubt myself for one second. It was like I knew what I was doing and my maternal instincts had kicked in.

I absolutely enjoyed spending time with my newborn and making memories! I still remember how my mother-in-law would come to the window and drop off food outside for good few months. We were so grateful to have had their support and for them being there for us.

I was blessed to have a baby girl who is two and half years old. She keeps us on our toes!

How do you navigate employment?

So as a dental technician I have a hectic lab life. To make my life easier, my husband takes on the role of drop off’s and picks up’s for my little girl.

This makes it easy for me to go into the lab early if needed or stay behind due to the work load. It’s great to have that flexibility with my husband and my in-laws.

As soon as I finish work and leave the building, I switch roles. During the day I am a technician, and by evening I’m a mother who has mummy duties.

As soon as I get home I refresh myself and get the cooker on and organise snacks for when my girl gets home. Evenings are my time with her and I try to make the most of it before going bed.

Do you experience any work/family conflict and, if so, what are your solutions?

To be honest I haven’t experienced any work or family conflicts. My workplace are very understanding if I need to leave to fetch my girl. When the nursery have called to pick her up due to high temperature, I have been able to leave with ease.

Likewise family have been super supportive when we have needed help or by looking after my daughter. They have been there regardless!

I do think I am lucky to have a great support system.

Who in your family takes responsibility for domestic tasks, eg caregiving and housework?

Me and my husband are a tag team and we work together to balance out our work life and home life with having the support of our families.

So while my husband does the drop off’s and pick up’s, i’ll do the cooking while my husband will clean up.

Alternatively, if my husband gives our girl a bath and puts her to bed, i’ll go around cleaning up.

Some days if I’m running late from work or have to stay behind my, mother-in-law will offer to cook and send me some food over which really helps when you have had a stressful day at the lab.

Do you think this is disproportionate? And do you feel women may sometimes accept this disproportion because it’s more ‘traditional’?

This could be due to how over the years its has always been the women who are expected to do all the chores!

This was a similar situation to when I use to live with my in-laws. It was looked at that women were expected to have the dinner on the table, do all the household chores, look after kids and family.

As I live with my husband we had our child in our own home and things were different. Like I said before we became a tag team and do everything together. We split the household chores too.

This definitely makes it easier because bringing up a child is not easy while balancing home and work life.

It’s lovely see how how things are gradually changing and men are becoming a little more hands-on!

Have you ever experienced stress/overwhelm/guilt/burnout since becoming a mother and returning to work?

I have felt guilt when I have been away for courses or been late from work to find out my girl has gone to bed and I won’t see her until the next day and that I missed out on reading bedtime stories.

I always try to make time up over the weekends, but still cuddle her on sofas not wanting to let her go.

As a mum, you’re constantly trying to be the best to your child while juggling with everything. It’s not easy but you have to be kind to yourself!

Did you have a working mother? Did this have an impact on how you have balanced your work and motherhood?

My mum couldn’t work as she had health issues, so mine and my brother’s upbringing was done by my nani (mum’s mum).

She played a vital part and mothered us. My parents were divorced which did impact on my life as I grew up.

I knew I didn’t want this for my child. I learnt while growing up through life experiences how to balance my life and I became quite independent at a young age which has made me a lot stronger!

I wanted to make sure that I was hands-on with my girl and would give her my love, time and make memorable memories!

Any advice for other working women who are considering having a family/are struggling with finding the right balance for them?

For women that are considering starting a family, if you are at the stage you are comfortable and have a stable relationship and a supportive family, then go for it! Its a beautiful experience.

If you are struggling to find the right balance, talk! Talk out whatever seems to be bothering you!

Motherhood is challenging and can be quite difficult as you are hands-on and juggling work and home life!

I would suggest asking for help as there is nothing wrong with leaning on your husband and families. Re-organise your life and prioritise what is important. Give time to yourself!

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