Considering hectic schedules and familial responsibilities, how do these moms balance work, home and kids?
Considering hectic schedules and familial responsibilities, how do these moms balance work, home and kids?

Tabinda Nabil, a Pakistani resident in Dubai, struggled to cope with the drastic change in her life after she first became a mother.

“I was a full-time teacher but, after the birth of my son, my life completely changed from a happening career to nursing and changing diapers with no social life,” she says. “All of this made me lonely and I went into post-partum depression.”

Tabinda’s child was four months old when she wrote her first blog. It was her loneliness and post-partum blues that made her start a blog. At first, it was all about sharing the journey of parenthood. She is now a stay-at-home mother of a two-year-old.

With time, her blog evolved into a space where she began sharing her experiences on everything related to parenting such as homeschooling, self-care routines, food recipes and clothing for kids or reviews about products related to baby care or women. “With this blog, I am happy that I can help new moms and moms to toddlers, in Pakistan and around the world, cope with their day-to-day life,” she says.

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~10 things as a mother of a Terrible Two~ . 1. Tantrums are real- public ones are super real. Rolling on floor esp. You just need to learn how to ignore. Many time you will be judged and eyed upon from around. Try not to give a damn. If you give in all tantrums- these toddlers will run over you. . 2. Which brings me to the next point - PATIENCE- I never knew I had this much of patience in me. Potty as soon as you’re leaving the house, food plate rejections as you prepare with so much love, house like a tornado just as you got done cleaning- lines on walls, garbage picking, hands in sticking poop —- the list is never ending. . 3. GOOGLE is my best friend. In sickness and in health- for ideas and behavior strategies- we’re so blessed to be in this era- I wonder what our moms did😛. . 4. I have too many QUESTIONS whose ANSWERS no one has.. like should I give baita this? What if he doesn’t sleep now? Is it okay for him to scream this loud? Is it cuz of teething? Aaaaa🤦🏻‍♀️ . 5. I love exploring places through his eyes. I love taking him out and enjoying swings, eating icecreams and candyfloss, watching cartoons too- sometimes! 😂 . 6. Bringing kids on YOUR routine is so much important as doing things their way. Pro tip- if you want to be happy- be flexible. They will sleep in a car seat or stroller- meal times will just be fine. Train them to work on your schedule rather than fretting on their meal and sleep and play times. Nooo! . 7. Always EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. What is in your mind would never be how things will do. Always be prepared and stay relaxed. Enjoy the choas and use it as a learning tool ! It will happen😂. . 8. There are NO PERFECT KIDS! Stop giving everything to kids. They don’t care. It’s mainly what is in your head. They will do everything in their own time- no need to compare them with other kids. Appreciate what you have. . 9. Enjoy the TINY SIMPLE things. Like my favorite ones are bathroom trips alone, long shower, chai in peace, writing a blog, There will be sad depressing moment. That’s absolutely OK! Just tell yourself it shall pass too. . 10. Stand for yourself- it’s imp for your kids to see that! Let your yes be yes - No be no! . 👇🏼?

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Over the last decade, the phenomenon of mom bloggers has redefined the concept of motherhood, as modern-day moms create their own images of parenthood on the internet.

Although ‘mom bloggers’ emerged in 2002 in the West when single mother Melinda Roberts founded TheMommyBlog.com, they gained popularity all over the world, and in Pakistan, in the recent few years.

Networking from home

Nabila Iftikhar, mother of a four-year-old child, who lives in Karachi, also struggled in her initial years of motherhood. “I decided to share my journey, struggles and learning with all new mums so they don’t feel alone in their trying days,” says Nabila. Her blog, which has been running for four years, covers a variety of topics including parenting tips, mother hacks and child development.

Many women like Nabila, be they working mothers and stay-at-home moms, have opted for blogging as a full-time career. Blogging is a platform for them to share their views on breastfeeding, burping babies, changing diapers, swaddling, or feeding solid foods to kids. Other important issues such as post-partum depression, anxiety and mental health are also discussed.

In recent times, most mothers who started out as conventional bloggers have switched to social media. According to Influencer Marketing Hub Study 2017, Instagram is the top social platform among adults. The reason, social media experts explain, is that it is easy to share and connect with people through this app.

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Congratulations! It’s a healthy baby boy. The instant I looked into my newborn’s eyes, I knew my efforts to raise a good man had begun from that very moment. As a boy mum and as a mum who is raising the next generation, I’m responsible to raise my little man into a good human being. ⁣ ⁣ Boys will not be boys; boys will be held accountable for their behavior. I stay clear of such labels and expression that blames my son’s behavior on his gender. Let them know that everyone is responsible for their actions and deeds. If you’re doing something wrong, there will be consequences and your gender is not an excuse that can get you away with crappy behavior. Build that sense of responsibility in them.⁣ ⁣ Involve them in house chores, don’t always pick up after them. Teach them that cooking, cleaning and general house chores are not just a woman’s responsibility. Everyone should be capable of looking after their own selves and cleaning up after their mess. Do it for your future daughter-in-law so she doesn’t have to look after a man-child. Trust me, she will be thankful. Let him know that he is responsible for his parents, they are not his wife's responsibility. ⁣ ⁣ Never say boys don’t cry – let them cry. Let them take control of their emotions. Do your part to help them in managing their feelings. Don’t let your son hide his feelings, bottling up one’s emotions only leads to aggression and explosion. Assure them that they can use their words to let others know if something is bothering them, teach them that crying out or being sensitive does not make them weak. Teach them compassion and empathy, build your communication with them.⁣ ⁣ Teach them to be respectful of other people’s feelings, emotions, and consent. Teach them to never take advantage of someone's vulnerability. Teach them kindness, you’re not just raising a man – you’re raising somebody’s husband and somebody’s father - let's raise our boys well.

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Tabinda and Nabila use Instagram in addition to their blogs. The former is the founder of @Frommummytonayel and the latter runs the Insta account @Karachimombloggers. Tabinda has more than 11,000 followers and Nabila over 1,000.

Tabinda posts daily and her contents are usually about her son’s activities or relationships. “I also share inspirational posts from other Insta feeds but I make sure to give credit,” she adds.

Both these mothers agree that Instagram has helped them to connect with many remarkable women around the globe, and also provides a medium for their blogs to reach to a wider audience.

‘Instagram moms’ and mom bloggers on Instagram are usually called ‘influencers,’ mainly because they share visuals to show off the lives of their children or family and, in doing so, sometimes make money too.

A stay-at-home mother of two daughters, Aisha Hassan, a resident of Karachi, runs the Insta account @Supermom.pk and has nearly 10,000 followers. “I share six to eight posts per week which are mostly about food recipes, outfit of the day pictures and fun Tik Tok videos [a media app for creating and sharing short videos] with my daughters, which provide a daily dose of humour to new mums and married women to keep their sanity intact,” she explains.

Pakistani-born Sabika Meraj, currently living in Australia, has been running the Insta handle @Mamaandazaan for the past seven months, and in a short period has gained more than 7,000 followers. “My followers love posts about my son and his naughtiness,” she says. She usually puts up at least three posts a week (quality over quantity), which are a mix of parenting, health, beauty tips and relationship struggles.

It is not only stay-at-home mothers who run blogs or Instagram accounts. There are also working mothers like Omaira Liaquat of @TheHRmommy. Canadian-based Pakistani Omaira, who has been working in the field of HR for almost 10 years, started her feed last year. She has over 8,000 followers and her prime focus is those women who are uncertain about their career, and have unnecessarily engulfed themselves with ‘mom guilt’. She puts up six to seven posts a week, which include career or HR advice, daily inspirations, tips on motherhood, home décor and social issues.

Juggling work and family

Most moms on Instagram agree that sometimes it becomes overwhelming to balance both motherhood responsibilities and an online presence. For moms on Instagram, it’s also important to maintain the traffic, so daily interaction and constant engagement are key. Hashtags or reposting helps increase the number of followers while giveaways can also do the trick.

Considering hectic schedules and familial responsibilities, how do these moms balance work, home and kids?

As a mother of two school-going boys, Omaira believes that it’s all about planning, setting priorities and doing what you enjoy.

Nabila has been juggling with working from home as a part-time employee in a private firm, running her dessert business online and managing her blog as well as an Instagram account. She usually sets her work hours around her daughter’s nap or school time.

Tabinda, on the other hand, maintains a diary in which she writes down her plan on a daily basis. “I have set a routine which keeps things smooth between my child and work.”

However, Sabika admits scheduling her day can be challenging. “I sometimes try and batch-cook my meals so I don’t have to worry about cooking and other chores. This way I get a good few hours to work,” she says.

Picture-perfect vs not-so-perfect reality

A 2016 study titled “Doing Gender Online: New Mothers’ Psychological Characteristics” published in the research journal Sex Roles, states that mothers who more frequently compared themselves to others on social media felt more depressed, and less competent as parents.

Atiya Sayed, a stay-at-home mother of a toddler, reveals that every individual’s experience is different. “I won’t lie but I stopped following moms on Instagram. I was frustrated. After all, everything is not real on social media,” she says.

Another mother, Amreen Shafiq, says that there are some mothers who are honest but “then there are those who post a picture-perfect meal and happy kids or spouse on their feeds and you are demoralised because your life is not that perfect.”

Instagram moms and bloggers feel that most of them depict the reality of motherhood, at least in Pakistan. Zara Fahd, a resident of Karachi and the founder of @Zarasinspirations is an Insta mom and a blogger, with more than 5,000 followers. “I believe in keeping it real, focusing more on the positives but not ignoring the negatives either,” she says.

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"Tumharay mazay hain, saara din ghar pe rehti ho, araam hi araam hai", typical words hurled at stay-at-home-moms quite often for doing "nothing" all day. . . A stay-at-home-mommy is by no means any lesser than a #mommy who goes off to work every morning. She doesn't spend her entire day lazying around in her PJs even though she wants to. She is someone who compromises with herself over many things to make sure her home and family is well put together. She puts on a happy face even when she's sinking in isolation internally. . For me, marriage was not as much of a big change as becoming a #SAHM was. Suddenly, everything started revolving around a little bundle of joy. Priorities changed, responsibilities levelled up and life became way busier than ever before. . As a SAHM, sleeping in late became a dream, quality time with the husband reduced drastically, food battles with the kiddos are still never ending, there is some home chore always pending. I kind of mastered #multitasking, yet still it often feels as though there aren't enough hours in a day to get everything done. Besides, socializing dropped to almost zero, but this didn't affect me much as I was never too social anyway. All in all, life became a little #overwhelming, and the #unappreciative comments don't help. . A SAHM's mind and body is on the roll every second of the day, and finding even a little bit of ME-time is like a breath of fresh air! I hardly get to enjoy this #beautiful breeze on a daily basis, which is a major bummer considering my #introverted personality. Yet, despite all this, I wouldn't want to trade this designation of mine for anything else. #Motherhood is a bitter sweet journey and I actually enjoy being a SAHM - it has its own set of perks just like any other "profession". . Just a word of #advice to everyone out there, the next time you meet a SAHM, uplift her spirits by sending some kind words her way instead of ridiculing her with "what do you even have to do all day?" or "why couldn't you get so and so task done in time?". And to all my fellow SAHMs, keep rocking you wonderful mommies. You're AWESOME!💕

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Omaira ran a campaign called #ShareMyClutter where she encouraged everyone to share their ‘not-so-perfect’ and cluttered spaces. On the other hand, Sabika openly shares her parenting struggles, failures, depression and anxiety.

Nevertheless, there are women who are inspired by the work of these Insta moms. Kiran Ashraf, head of content at Communita-Pakistan, is one of them. “Most of these mums do not hesitate in showing themselves with no cosmetics, messy hair, running after their children. Seeing them handle the two universes to the best of their capability is genuinely inspiring,” she says.

Mothers as influencers

In 2015, eMarketer (a market research company for insights and trends related to digital marketing, media and commerce) reported that mothers control around 85 percent of household purchases. Marketing experts suggest that, since mom influencers have the ability to sway the views of their followers and most people trust their recommendations, they can have an impact on brands for product or service awareness among consumers.

Insta moms engage with their followers on a personal level. From parenting to home décor to relationships, and their loyal followers (mostly mothers and women) value their advice.

According to Abdullah Qureshi, brand manager at Zellbury and Kapray, this kind of influencer marketing is relatively new in Pakistan but mom influencers have proven to be beneficial for many brands to promote their ideology among relevant consumers.

“One of our brands promotes trendy wear, so we look out for moms who are interested in fashion or styling,” says Abdullah. “Our team then sends out gloriously packaged products to mums to use and then review for us. Our other brand is for the masses, so we look out for mothers who do not shy away to support and vocalise real issues. For our #REALConversations campaign, we contact these mums and give outfits and sit down for a one-to-one with them,” he explains.

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Just this week on the blog, we were discussing how to raise boys who will grow up to become better citizens of the world. Among other things, I personally believe that as parents, our expectations should be the same from both our sons & daughters when it comes to chores. There shouldn’t be roles, toys or colors associates with either gender. My older son absolutely loves to cook, he always offers to help and is willing to help with anything food related. I think its fantastic, it gives him an opportunity to be comfortable with food, learn about new textures and tastes, and in the process, learning something new! (and you don’t see this mom complaining because who couldn’t use a helper) So when we got this set sent to us by @professormaxwells , you can imagine both Rayyan and my excitement! We got every kitchen tool that he could possibly need to cook his favourite dishes, alongside a recipe book that has 18 interactive recipes. All you do is you download the app, attach the phone to the VR goggles (swipe left to see), and see the recipes come to life! Talk about evolving with technology! What is also music to my ‘mom-whose-kids-are-growing-in-the-world-of-processed-foods’ ears is the knowledge Professor Maxwell’s avatar (who jumps right out of the book – its pretty cool Im telling ya) shares with the kids about food while they cook. ‘Whats gluten’ ‘Saturated vs Unsaturated Fats’ etc. Yesterday we made burgers and lets just say Mommy may have learnt a thing or two herself here! (coagulation whaa) So if you’re looking for a present for a food lover child but also want to teach them some science behind the food, you might want to check this out! Ive shared some stuff on my stories & We also did a first timer unboxing review on our YouTube channel for this (link in bio – be nice) . . . Are you also a parent who is always browsing for STEM toys for your kids? . . #gifted #cookingwiththekids #cookingwithkids #cookingfun #misterchef #masterchefjunior #toyreview #toyreviews #kidstoyreview #stemtoys #stemtoysforkids #genderneutraltoys #helikestocook #momlife #momswhoblog #toysworld #raisingthefuture #raisingboys #happysmiles #mumsofboys #prpackages #stem

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“Mostly, brands do barter deals where they send their products for you to try and, in return, you give them exposure on your blog,” explains Nabila. “Others who pay, their scale depends on the number of followers a blogger has, their engagement and target audience type. The fee can range from 2,000 rupees to 10,000 rupees.”

In the last few years, there has been a steady growth in the Insta moms’ influencer marketing; there is no set matrix to measure the success ratio in terms of sale, nevertheless this is a potential market for brands to tap into.

Reaching out

The love and support received from fellow moms builds a mutually beneficial learning relationship for mothers across the globe as well as opportunities to work with some well-known brands. Tabinda adds that bloggers can also guide and help other mothers regarding taboo topics such as breast engorgement, post-partum depression and family planning via online chat.

Other perks include invites to events and parenting panels.

Most significantly perhaps, mom bloggers can help other mothers face issues related to their homes, work-life as well as kids. Sharing experiences on potty-training, nursing babies, pregnancy complications, cooking as well as parenting tips with fellow moms on Instagram helps other moms find comfort and support, especially in the smooth transition to parenthood for new mothers. Learning about other’s experiences helps alleviate stress and anxiety faced by many during the journey of being a mother.


Originally published in Dawn, EOS, April 14th, 2019

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