Humans of the Agency: Aarthi Hariharan
June 8, 2022
Aarthi Hariharan, Senior Specialist
Joined: Since 2017
Children: Son, born in 2020
As a first-time mother — and a first-time mother at the start of the pandemic — how was it like to juggle that and work?
My son was born on 27 March 2020. That was about a week before the Circuit Breaker began in Singapore, which was our version of a lockdown. The Circuit Breaker would go on to last for eight weeks in total.
Aside from being a first-time mother, I was worried about the logistics of being a parent. With everything under lockdown, how was I going to get diapers or milk powder? What about everyday food supplies that my family needed? On top of all of that, due to health reasons, I had to take four months off after the birth of my son in order to recover.
However, with all of that happening, my company and my managers all agreed for me to take time off. The team really stepped up at the time.
What made you feel comfortable enough to ask for an extended maternity leave?
I am aware that extended maternity isn’t such a common thing. It just isn’t a policy elsewhere. However, at Finn Partners, we are very flexible with the way we solve problems. We understand that there are a lot of unforeseen circumstances in life, and since there are many parents in the company, they fully understand the struggles that other parents face. That’s why they are able to be so accommodative. We look out for one another.
What are some tips and advice you would give to first-time parents/mothers such as yourself?
There are three things about parenting that I had to learn the hard way.
First, we need to manage the situation and not try and solve the problem. In the past, whenever my baby cried, I put on my problem-solving hat and tried every trick in the book. Then my paediatrician told me one day that it was impossible to know all the time the exact reasons why.
Second, there is a reason why safety announcements on airplanes ask you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping your child. You cannot take care of your baby unless you take care of yourself first. This means eating on time, getting sleep, getting enough exercise, and so on. I prioritised my baby every step of the way until I realised it was important for me to take care of myself too if I needed to be there for my child at every turn.
Lastly, every child is different. Initially, I obsessed over milestones for my son, such as first steps, first words, and so on. I would grow anxious if it didn’t happen at the exact month or year. But I soon realised that my baby would do this whenever he was ready and all I was doing was to create anxiety for myself and put pressure on the baby. So take it easy, your baby will do things at their own time and pace.