The Delicate Balance: Nurturing Wellbeing as a Working Mother in Dubai 

Katrina Mankani

In the heart of Dubai, a city celebrated for its cultural diversity and dynamic growth, the journey of motherhood unfolds with unique challenges and joys for working women. As the Managing Director of Jumeirah International Nurseries and the Director of Positive Education of Fortes Education, my professional path has been dedicated to the mental health and wellbeing of children and parents alike. This dedication is deeply personal, especially now, as I navigate the complexities of being a first-time mother to a 15-month-old son while steering the course of an educational organisation with a legacy spanning over four decades. 

The transition into motherhood has been an enlightening experience, accentuating my passion for understanding and fostering the psychological wellbeing of parents and children. Amidst the myriad of responsibilities, I, like many working mothers, grapple with the pervasive feeling of guilt—a worry that we are not doing enough for our children or our careers. This sentiment is far from isolated; research indicates a significant proportion of women share this concern. For instance, a study published by the Global Journal of Human Psychology found that “75% of working mothers feel they are not meeting their children’s needs adequately,” underscoring the widespread nature of this emotional struggle. 

This statistic not only highlights a common thread among working mothers but also emphasises the need for a compassionate approach towards parenthood. One concept that has been particularly resonant with me, both professionally and personally, is that of the “Good Enough Mother,” a term famously coined by psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott. It teaches us that striving for perfection in parenting is not only futile but can also hinder the natural development process of our children. Embracing our imperfections and understanding that providing a ‘good enough’ environment, characterized by love, understanding, and respect, is paramount for the healthy development of our children. 

For working mothers facing the pressure to balance career and family life, several evidence-based techniques can offer solace and practical strategies for managing stress. Mindfulness practices, for example, have been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, fostering a greater sense of peace and presence. Moreover, setting realistic expectations for oneself and practicing self-compassion can alleviate the burden of guilt that many mothers carry. Engaging in open communication with employers about flexible working arrangements can also create a more sustainable balance between professional responsibilities and family life. 

Dubai’s multicultural landscape adds another layer to the conversation on motherhood. With its rich tapestry of cultures, the city is home to a wide array of parenting beliefs and practices. This diversity, while beautiful, can also intensify the pressure to conform to various standards, making the role of support systems all the more crucial. It is within this context that the idea for the Jumeirah International Nursery Family Club was born—a community initiative designed to offer a platform for parents to find support, share experiences, and access insights from experts in parenthood and education. The inception of this club was a direct response to the need for a collective space where the challenges of modern parenting could be addressed in a nurturing and understanding environment. 

In Sunmarke and Regent International Schools we have established Wellness Wednesdays and Mindful Mondays – days when experts on wellness from the community come to share their insights on mental health, character development, resilience, mindset and other skills that are core in the 21st century. These initiatives are a testament to the belief that, by coming together, we can better navigate the complexities of raising children in today’s world, fostering environments where the mental health of both children and parents is prioritised. 

As we continue to balance the demands of career and family, let us remember the power of community and the importance of embracing the ‘good enough.’ In doing so, we not only alleviate our own anxieties but also model resilience, compassion, and understanding for our children. The journey of motherhood, with all its challenges and rewards, is a shared experience—one that, when navigated with support and kindness, can be incredibly fulfilling. 

In a city as vibrant and diverse as Dubai, the message is clear: you are not alone. Through opening the dialogue on pressures of working mothers, we can create a culture of empathy and mutual support, ensuring that the wellbeing of our families remains at the heart of our collective endeavor. Together, we can redefine the narrative of working motherhood, embracing the imperfections and uncertainties with confidence and grace. 

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