Office for Promotion of Equality and DiversityWaseda University

Series: Tackling Work-Life Balance (17) Things you realize when you cannot work long hours

Series: Tackling Work-Life Balance (17)

Things you realize when you cannot work long hours

Fukuyama Saori, Full-time Staff Member in the Student Affairs Section

I have been on staff here for 15 years. Thus far I’ve worked in three different sections, and while I was in each one of them I had a baby. Today I’m a working mother with three kids.

Before becoming pregnant with my first child, I could say that work was my life. After being hired immediately after graduation, my first workplace was the Extension Center. With the support of my supervisors, seniors, people at related companies, and part-time employees, and members of the faculty watching over me and helping me out, I devoted all my energies to work. Just out of school and not having gotten the hang of the job, there wasn’t a day I went home without working overtime. I couldn’t count the number of days, during busy periods, when I was the last to leave the office. As a rookie employee, I did my best to handle the volume of work, and to maintain a sincere mentality and deal straightforwardly with people. It was a challenging but rewarding period, when I was always dashing around, but in the process learned the importance of sincere dedication to one’s work.

This situation did not change after I got married, but once we were expecting our first child, I changed my way of working. I’m prone to severe morning sickness, and throughout all my pregnancies it was all I could do to work regular hours, let alone do overtime. All three of my children started going to day care before their first birthdays and I went back to work, but I remained unable to work overtime because I had to pick them up from day care, and what’s more I had to leave work and get them from day care any number of times due to illness until they toughened up around the age of three. Both my parents and my husband’s parents live pretty far away and we couldn’t really ask them to help out, so the two of us would both take half-days off and hand the sick child off to the other at lunchtime. Every time one of the children got sick I had to take half-days or full days off.

At my second workplace, the Residence Life Center, on my first day I fully intended to start with a clean slate and do my very best. Just then the phone rang: it was the day care center telling me one of my kids had the chicken pox, and right away I was taking a few days off.

Unable to work long hours and sometimes needing to take sudden time off, I was always thinking about effective time management and doing tasks ahead of schedule, and as I worked I was more aware than ever of partnerships with those around me. I came to various realizations because I was in a position where it was necessary to share information with others as I worked, and I applied these to my daily work and sought to make improvements. Today I retain this mentality as strongly as ever.

In the Student Affairs Section where I’m currently employed, I applied for shortened hours for childcare until my second son’s first birthday, and after he turned one, applied for exemption from overtime work. I work full-time but leave the office at the designated time.

Today I am able to balance work and family life thanks to my supervisor who understands my situation, my colleagues who take over any work that needs to be continued after regular working hours, and the temporary staff and students (there are several doing work-study in the Student Affairs Section) who always support me kindly.

Pregnancy and childbirth are wonderful aspects of one’s personal life, but on the job, there is no question that they place a burden on others. My taking maternity and childcare leave, and continuing to work while raising children, is possible thanks to the generous Waseda University system and the cooperation of everyone else in my workplace. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by such warm and supportive people, and I hope to thank them for their support by continuing to give it my all at work. By doing so, I also hope to communicate to all staff members that want to continue working while raising a family: you can do it!

■ Profile ■
After graduating from the Waseda University School of Commerce, joined the university’s staff in 2003. From 2003 to 2010, was engaged in planning public continuing-education lectures at the Extension Center and short-term study abroad programs. From 2010 to 2016, at the Residence Life Center, dealt with public relations, etc. related to student dormitories. Joined the Student Affairs Section in June 2016. Currently engaged in extracurricular activity-related duties.
Family consists of five people (Ms. Fukuyama, her husband, two sons aged nine and one, and a daughter aged six).


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