Atelier Diva: Work, Play, Love
Life of a Single Working Mom
April 11, 2022 COMMENT comment
Life of a Single Working Mom
By Prerna Gauba
While she handles an important role for her company, Manjjulaa Kukreja is also a single parent with two kids. How does she balance her work and personal life? She shares her inspiring story.
Manjjulaa Kukreja, head of the visual merchandising team of Evok, Hindware in India, is also a mother of two teenagers. She got married at a very young age, just after her graduation. But her love for interiors and designing decor for homes and offices pushed her to pursue courses in interior and visual merchandising even after marriage. She started her professional career freelancing in interior design and eventually got the opportunity of working with Evok, Hindware. She now balances work and home, one day at a time.
You head an all-India team. That spells a lot of responsibilities. How hard does it become for you as a single mother to look after your kids as well then?
I travel a lot due to my work and that gives me an opportunity to garner new skills, explore new cities, and enhance my network relations. Also, each one of us gets space in our individual life that acts as a breather and once back we share our fun elements with each other. Fortunately I was able to give my kids attention when they were young and needed me the most, so now they are able to cope better as teenagers. At times, my daughter looks for my company but due to my professional commitments I am unable to spend more time with her though I ensure that I spend quality time with both my kids. My son is eight years older than my daughter so when I am travelling, he ensures that proper care and guidance is given to his sister. Apart from this, before travelling, I ensure all their basic necessities are taken care of. By planning ahead, we don’t face any problem. While travelling, I make a point to stay connected with my children. And in the evening we share our day with each other over the phone.

What do you consider your best achievement in your career so far?
Despite being a single parent I have been able to inculcate the right values in my children. I have been able to gift them a good life and that is what I feel is my biggest achievement as it is quite difficult to create an equilibrium between both my personal and professional life and get appreciated for them as well!

So how do you manage?
I prioritise, and that I think is the key word. I am career-oriented and for me it was important to help the company flourish while on the other hand I didn’t want to place the emotional development of my children at risk. So I made sure that I divided my time equally between work and children. As a rule I keep the weekends just for my kiddos whereas weekdays are spent working in office.

So how do you manage to get time for yourself? How do you spend your spare time?
My role is very demanding but at the same time I am glad that my kids have grown up, they need certain space in life which in turn gives me time for myself. I plan and invest a lot for my future. I indulge in a lot of inspirational reading. Cooking is another activity which has always been a hobby of mine and I still do in spare time.

Who would you say has been the most instrumental in your growth?
My father has been my inspiration and role model. My father had a very affectionate, respectful and sacrificial behaviour, which I feel I have inherited from him. And in the same way I want my children to emulate all of my good virtues and habits in their life.

What was the biggest obstacle you have ever faced in your life and how did you overcome it?
It came after 10 years of great experience of following my passion. When this passion became a need for me, as my marriage broke down, it was one of the toughest times for me. I had to undergo a lot of hardship and not let it affect my children. Later, within six months, I lost my father, who was my support system and then my young and only brother. I was again shattered. However, I soon learnt to accept the process of moving forward and due to my hectic work schedule the pain eventually lessened to the point where I remember them with love and fondness, not just pain.

How important do you feel it is for women to be financially independent?
I feel it’s very important for every woman to be independent and well-educated. I would want my daughter to be capable enough to earn, spend, invest her savings and she should be independent in terms of being able to manage her own existence completely, including running her own home.

One advice you’d like to give to working mothers…
The advice I’d give is that you should be your kid’s best friend so that they can easily share and confide in you, and feel secure doing that. This will also make your work as a working mother a lot easier.
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