Dear Ana, how do you divide the working and childcare time between you and your family?
At first I want to say – I have an unusual family situation. My husband and I are artists. We live with my parents and grandmother in a country house. There is also our art studio. The question „who will deal with the child“ is not really a question, who is free – I, my husband or grandfather with my grandmother – are the ones who take her out of school, carry her to dance, english or architecture. It is very convenient. Probably only because my husband and I have such an excellent help, we were able to achieve significant successes (we both are among the TOP-100 of young artists of Russia, attractive for investments, we have exhibitions all over the world, etc.). I work at home, in my art studio, so I do not have a strict work schedule. Sometimes I have a large amount of work before personal exhibitions or shows, that’s when I spend whole days and weeks in the art studio, but it happens only several times a
year. When I have such a lot to do, my mom helps me, with whom we live together. Usually I am engaged in the day with the child, and in the evening I go to the art studio (at 20:00 – 22:00) – depending on who will put the daughter to bed. We have the tradition to lie down and chat with her before going to bed and discuss how the day went by. From 22:00 to 05:00 – 06:00 in the morning I work in the art studio. So I have 6-8 fulltime hours for work, without distractions or pauses. After that I sleep. I have worked for many years at night and I have become accustomed to such a regime. My husband takes our daughter to school and I take her back at 13:00 or 14:00. We talk with the family almost every day at dinner or during the evening tea. We are all aware of the problems, joys and achievements of each other and it’s also a tradition to gather together at the table and communicate. At the weekend, my husband’s mother comes to visit us and our family becomes full: my husband, my daughter, my parents, my grandmother, my husband’s mother and myself.
Depending on who will put the daughter to bed. We have the tradition to lie down and chat with her before going to bed and discuss how the day went by.
Have you discussed these issues as part of family planning? Or was it always clear for you both?
It has always been clear for our family how to plan life and work. Everyone contributes his little help to the family, but this is only possible with a great deal of mutual assistance and a desire to help – which we have. But everyone has also responsibilities. My husband and I have a distribution of responsibilities with the child: If possible, we take turns taking care of our daughter and driving her to school, but interesting events (excursions, holidays, sport trips and rest) are always held by both of us or together with the whole family. If he has an important job or project, I do more with the child, and vice versa, freeing me time for full creativity. If we are both busy, all her lessons are taken over by her grandmothers.
What is the standard model in Moscow and Russia, how do your friends with kids manage it?
It seems to me that there are several models among my friends with children, and these schemes are not original: a) If both spouses work and have vigorous grannies, their child remains with the grandparents while the parents are at work (in Russia grandfather and grandmother among young fathers and mothers are often summarized as „grannies“). b) If there are no grannies, the child stays with the nanny while the parents are at work. c) If a good nanny is not available, there is no money for her, or the mother will not give her baby to anyone, most often the father is the one working while the mother deals with the child (kids) or finds herself the opportunity to work at home or with a flexible schedule.
My husband takes our daughter to school and I take her back at 13:00 or 14:00. We talk with the family almost every day at dinner or during the evening tea. We are all aware of the problems, joys and achievements of each other and it’s also a tradition to gather together at the table and communicate.
What’s your advice for making this work with as little pain and frustration as possible?
My opinion is that the families should not be destroyed from excessive overloading of a mother who spends the whole day sitting with her child. From two weekends one should be spend on a general family plan. It can be anything: going to a movie, a cafe, a museum, an excursion, a trip, sculpting a pelmeni’s house or having a pyjama day – something that everyone loves. I had such a beautiful day when my daughter was a little girl – my mother-in-law came on Sunday and was engaged with the baby girl, and my husband and I could go somewhere or simply use our freedom and go to the studio. Weekdays are much easier to survive, when you know that in the end there will be some nice reward for a week’s fatigue. And it’s not only
If he has an important job or project, I do more with the child, and vice versa, freeing me time for full creativity. If we are both busy, all her lessons are taken over by her grandmothers.
In Russia, career women are very equal to men. At the same time the societal claim to women is very great, as well as being a mother, wife, housewife and lover. How do women manage that?
What should you do if you must be both a good mom and a housewife, and you need to manage to work? This is a whole science and happy are those women who had excellent teachers in the family dynasty or examples before their eyes. If you can rely only on your experience, it’s more difficult. Modern women do not have the same answers to choose right: husband or child, parents or husband, career or family. But with this choice, absolutely everything collides sooner or later and in different proportions. When I had to make such a choice (to help my husband at work or to stay with the 11-month-old adored baby at home), I chose my husband. But I was very worried, did I do it right? It turned out right. And never once did I regret it. And one more personal example: While I was sitting at home with my little daughter, I did not have time for myself. I walked through the house dressed in a gown or training suit, of course without make-up, and did not always have time to comb. And then I called my best friend and we gave each other a promise: never be at home in a training or a dressing gown and to wear make-up every day. It’s such a trifle, but for some reason it organized me very much. I still fulfill these obligations to this day and my friend does too, even though we live in different countries.
Every 40 minutes, a Russian woman dies as a result of domestic violence. A year ago, a law was passed reducing the penalties for domestic violence maybe leading to even more violence. How does a woman live in a country where women can achieve a great deal in their career, but always have something to fear?
I have never encountered domestic violence in my family, or in the families of my friends. There are no strict laws on domestic violence in Russia and this is very scary. I just hope that in the near future, there will be global changes in the issue of security in the family. This is not just a personal matter for everyone this is a big task for the state.