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Mom strives to achieve work-life balance

Updated:2022-04-25 12:22:53   China Daily

Wang Yuxiao wears her graduation gown as she and her family pose for a photo when she was awarded her master's at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A mother of three is giving everything at home and in the office as she endeavors to gain promotion, earn more money and secure her family's future. Yan Dongjie reports.

When an older colleague joined Wang Yuxiao's company, the 31-year-old felt anxious because the newcomer offered a potential glimpse of her own life in about 10 years.

The prospect was not one she relished, as she doesn't want to be doing the same job at the same salary when she is 40.

The mother of three young boys is desperate to do well at work, gain promotion and earn more money.

To further that aim, in January, she took a job with Miaoshou, an online medical science popularization and online inquiry platform, which offers good prospects and is planning an initial public offering.

"Who does the housework in your family?" Wang said she was not surprised to be asked that question at the job interview as her potential employer needed to know how much time and effort she could devote to her work.

She felt more than capable of getting the post, though, because she shoulders the responsibility of raising her sons, which provides solid motivation.

"I feel fully motivated to work hard, gain promotion and take good care of my children at the same time," Wang said, adding that she knows such tasks are never easy.

The employment gap between men and women has narrowed in the past two years, according to a report about women's working status in China, published last month by Zhaopin, a recruitment platform with about 230 million users.

It showed that 36 percent of female employees work in management positions, while the figure for men is 35.4. The proportion of women in mid-level positions surpassed that of men by 2.6 percentage points, suggesting that women are taking more important posts in the workplace.

Women felt underestimated at work, though, as 77.7 percent believed they were qualified for senior manager posts, while only 53.1 percent of men held that opinion of women's abilities.

One price Wang had to pay for her job was sending her two older boys to stay with their grandparents in the west of Beijing.

The boys, ages 6 and 4, attend a public-interest kindergarten located in the residential compound. The facility was once private and expensive, but it now charges a monthly fee of about 700 yuan ($110) after the government moved to ease parents' burdens by improving public-interest child care.

"Public-interest kindergartens" are those that provide quality preschool education at affordable fees-which are usually capped by the local government-as a part of supportive measures to raise the birthrate.

Last year, more than 48 million children were enrolled in China's 294,800 kindergartens, with nearly 87.8 percent of them at public-interest facilities, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Education last month.

Wang said: "I grew up in a county in Hubei province, and I studied hard for college entry exams, and then came to Beijing and settled down. Studying hard has been my way of improving my living conditions.

"However, my sons were born in Beijing, with access to all the best resources in the country. They deserve to live happier childhoods and not just concentrate on their studies."

Unlike many parents in Beijing, when Wang discusses her thoughts on children's education, she sounds more relaxed than on other topics.

"When I see them entangled with each other by the slide in our living room, or squeezing themselves into one baby's buggy for fun, that's the most beautiful picture in the world," she said.
Resettlement, education

Last year, Wang and her husband moved out of Xicheng district, where the education in kindergartens and primary schools is widely regarded as excellent, and settled in Fengtai district, where they could afford a large apartment.

Compared with a crowded school in Xicheng, Wang is planning to enroll her sons at Fengtai No 5 Primary school, just across the street from her new apartment.

"I remember the kindergarten in Xicheng that my oldest son attended. For the noon nap, kids from two classes had to crowd into one classroom, as it was also used as a nap room," Wang said. "Half the kindergarten was under construction, because the school was getting ready to enroll more children."

If all three sons attend the kindergarten, the fees will work out at about 700 yuan per child for tuition, 800 for food and about 1,000 for interest classes per child. That's about 7,500 yuan each in total. With the additional cost of a nanny to help Wang take care of the youngest boy, the cost will be at least 15,000 yuan a month.

Speaking at a news conference in January, Yang Jinrui, deputy director of the National Health Commission's population surveillance and family development department, said, "The high costs of childbearing and education have made many young people anxious."

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, about 10.62 million babies were born in China last year-falling from 12 million in 2020-the lowest number in recent years, while the national birthrate fell to the lowest level since 1978.

China introduced the third-child policy in May last year. Now, all couples can have up to three children, and many measures have been rolled out to encourage births.

Wang has already shown her ability to multitask, as she gained a master's while being the primary caregiver to her two young sons and giving birth to a third.

She found herself pregnant with Youxia when she started her master's in 2019. Before that, she had been a full-time mother for more than a year.

When she graduated from Renmin University of China in 2015, Wang passed the exam for civil servants in Beijing and became a police officer. She married the same year, but chose to quit the steady job after giving birth to her first boy, Muxia, in 2017.

"When I had my first baby, I felt that taking care of him was the most important thing in the world. I wanted to stay home with him for the rest of my life," Wang said, adding that her views have changed since then.
Deeper understanding

Her understanding grew when had her second son, Yixia, in 2018. More children meant more financial pressure, while hanging out with full-time moms and nannies limited her mental horizons. "Even if you can access all the information through your phone, you are isolated from the world," she said. As a result, Wang felt an urgent need to return to work.

Her husband, Li Yuan, remembers a serious quarrel in 2019. He didn't understand why Wang wasn't interested in communicating when he returned from work, and they ended up arguing.

"I felt our relationship had become fragile, and we were both responsible for that," Li said.

Now, seeing his wife apply makeup, dress and head to work every morning, he feels that she is alive again, he said.

It wasn't easy to find a job, though, as Wang had little working experience. Instead, after a family discussion, she decided that the best option would be to gain a master's and return to the employment market with the extra qualification.

While pregnancy, the COVID-19 epidemic and being a full-time mother of two made it tough for her to gain her master's, and the most difficult time was right before graduation.

When Wang gave birth to her third son early last year, the third-child policy had not been introduced, so she broke the law. Not only did she have to pay a fine-about three times her annual salary-but she became ineligible to work for State-owned companies and public institutions.

Wang clearly remembers the day the third-child policy was announced-May 31 last year-as it was Youxia's first birthday. "Many friends sent me a screenshot of the news, and it felt like a birthday gift for my son," she said.

On a recent sunny Sunday, Wang and her husband took their two older boys to street dancing classes as usual. The weekend is their family time, which Wang cherishes and always guarantees.

Watching her sons dancing and laughing, she smiled. "It's very simple-my goal is to earn more money and gain a higher position in the company," she said.

Keywords:   Mom work-life balance