Oby Ohakim -ProjectBaby

Brief introduction and background?

My name is Oby Ohakim. I’m an in-house counsel at a Quasi-government agency in Nigeria and I specialize in corporate litigation. I’m also the founder of ProjectBaby Nigeria and the sole content creator at www.playsuitsandlawsuits.com. I’m the mother of 2 exceptional boys – J and Cj. My hobbies are taking pictures, running and humorously referring to myself in the 3rd person.

What birth the idea of project baby?

My 2 boys – J and CJ, are my inspiration. Since becoming a mom, I’m always searching for and creating learning opportunities for my children through play and use of age appropriate learning materials. ProjectBaby evolved out of the desire and need to make such resources easily accessible in Africa. More so, I’ve always had a passion for early learning with my mother being the Proprietress of Divine Offspring International School (with 5 branches in Lagos) I grew up learning with resources like these and with my kids I’ve always adopted this hands on practical approach to learning.

What makes project baby different?

At ProjectBaby Nigeria our goal is to inspire mothers to have fun creating hands on learning activities to engage their Little Ones at home; as an alternative to excessive “Screen Time”.Our unique selling point is that our learning resources are designed and locally made with the child’s academic and social development in mind. We take pride in conceptualizing every product first in my home, making sure it’s as fun as it is useful, revising each prototype until we get it just right; before sending it to the factory for production.

How will your family and friends describe you?

I think they’ll need to answer that themselves. Just kidding. I think most people would describe me as a “juggler”. I wear so many hats; I’m the career mom, the Anglican mother, the goofy clown, the mummy of the house, daddy’s girl, the life of the party, the gym rat, the “ride or die” friend, the fashionista, and so much more lol.

What are your strengths?

I believe one of my key strengths is in the area of organizing and planning. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a carefully executed plan play out as anticipated. My other key strengths are prioritization, determination, and resilience.

What is your day like as a Career Mum?

I enjoy routines, so my week days usually involve me dropping off my kids in school before heading to work. On a typical day, when I don’t have late meetings I’m usually home around 4:30pm to do homework, outdoors play and bed time routines before I go to the gym at 7:oopm. But it’s not always a smooth sailing ship, if I’m being totally honest. Sometimes I go through phases where I feel like I’m faking big chunks of my life, playing the part of a competent and confident mother, wife and professional — but in fact occasionally shortchanging one over the other. Thankfully, most days I stick to routines and schedules; which sort of helps me stay sane, and on course.

Do you feel your professional skills are up to date after having Children?

ABSOLUTELY! I’m very big on personal, career and academic development, and building my professional network; motherhood has not affected this at all.

How do you ensure stress / pressure from work doesn’t affect your home?

I try as much as possible to avoid taking home any work that can wait till the next work day, and if I do, I would usually handle that after the kids have gone to bed. I’m also very intentional about my “me-time” and getting some rest and alone time with The Husband.

If you could give your “past self” one piece of advice what would it be?

Don’t judge that “working mom” colleague. When you see a working mom doing and putting in her best, don’t mistake it for complacency, or laziness – if she has to take some sick days off to nurse her child or if she has to use her lunch break to do “school runs” or if she leaves at exactly closing hours, every day. As far as I can tell, mothers don’t work less, we just need more flexibility. When I’m trying to balance it all, let’s say my kids school play clash with a big work meeting or I am saddled with extra projects, I remind myself that my non-parent colleagues do not know what it’s like, and they don’t really care. I don’t blame them for it: It’s very hard to care about what you don’t know. And that was me, not that long ago.

Has your career goals/aspirations altered after becoming a mother?

It’s unfortunate that motherhood is often portrayed as some sort of “career apocalypse” lol; while this may be true for some, it’s not for others. Personally, since becoming a mom, my aspirations have actually amplified! Now, I have 2 young men watching me, and a husband cheering me on. So, more than ever, I want to be the best version of myself; I want my boys to grow up knowing that a woman can be successful outside the home, that a woman can be a good mother, run a business and have a successful career. That they are to respect a woman’s decision to work and be a mom.
As it turns out, my life has reached professional and personal heights that I never imagined in my pre-mom life. The best thing that ever happened to me was becoming a mother.I’m a better, stronger, and more resilient person because of it.

Mothers face unfair judgment especially when they have someone else looking after their kids more than they themselves. Share your opinion on this.

Like my mom says, “it is the quality of care that matters, not whether moms work or not”. If I stay at home with the kids without interacting with them in meaningful, purposeful, intentional ways, then I’ve only “stayed at home”. In the long run, what matters is the quality of time spent with the children, not necessarily the quantity.
Moreover, even if I work and have “help” there is no substitute for my role as a mother. I am a dedicated, constant and qualified figure in the life of my kids; even when it may be exhausting. When I’m at work, I’m still a mom. When I come home, I’m still a mom. My “job” as a mom never ends, I have no weekly offs or monthly offs or even yearly offs. Yet, that’s my best job. There are many more misconceptions about working mothers but I would rather just end this by saying that Motherhood is not a competition. In the end we are all just mothers who are trying to do our best for our families whether we stay home or work outside the home.

If you had the power to change one thing in the business market for working mothers, what would it be?

We need more workplace friendly laws / regulations; for instance policies that stipulate for the establishment of lactation stations in workplaces, or policies that encourage establishment of day care centers in work places, or policies that provide new mothers the option of flexible working hours; perhaps the option of pursuing closed-end projects where a business gives clear deliverables and milestones for completion. Highly qualified mothers could be offered to work part-time or full time from home for a few months after (paid) maternity leave. The Nigerian work force just has to structure the job so that mothers with young children can still function in the Corporate world.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Do what works for you!” Don’t compare your baby to other babies; they all eventually learn to walk, and talk! They all eventually sleep through the night, eat homemade food, and count their numbers. Don’t worry if your baby did it a few months after the others. No one will care few years down the line.

What were the biggest challenges you faced going back into the work place after children?

I faced several challenges; from missing my kids “firsts”, to not having a dedicated space in the office for expressing breast milk, to lack of flexible working hours. However, my biggest challenge was Mom Guilt! “Mom guilt” is a real thing. It’s that guilt you feel when you’re leaving your tiny infant at home every morning to go to work, or the guilt you feel when you worked late and don’t get to see your baby before bedtime. To make matters worse, the mom-guilt turns into worry. As a new (working) mom I used to worry that I was no longer living up to the standards I had set for myself as a career woman; when I had to take time off to make it to numerous vaccination appointments, unplanned sick days, unplanned nanny days off, and other family concerns. Fortunately, I’ve realized that all that worry is wasted energy. So now instead of worrying, I give my job my absolute best and trust that my dedication to both my career and home will pay off.

How much “Me time” do you have & how do you spend it?

I go to the gym for 2 hours every day; between 7:00pm and 9:00pm; that’s my indispensable “me-time”! I love to run, or walk on the treadmill. A good run really relaxes me. I also enjoy going to the spa, and a night out with the husband and our friends.

How involved is your spouse in your career growth?

He’s my biggest cheerleader. Having being raised by a very ambitious “working mother”, he understands my decision to pursue a career; to juggle the responsibility of the family, work, educational and career development. He’s happy to take on more than a fair share of home responsibilities and parenting, sharing my dreams, backing my goals and listening to my struggles – as I do his.

What are your top work/life balance tips for career mums?

My number one tip is to prioritize and schedule! Isn’t funny how prioritizing can SEEM so obvious, but somehow we forget to do it? Over the years, I’ve learned how important it is to create schedules and priorities, stick to them and revisit them periodically. The good news is that you’ll see a huge shift in your level of both productivity and ease when you do.
Also, purposefully use those hours after the kids are asleep! It’s this secret wealth of untapped time, it’s worth the rally to make regular occasion of it. You won’t regret it once you make it out. I will also recommend creating family traditions. A tradition can be something as simple as a weekly family movie night or daily bedtime reading or even be as big as an annual family vacation. The point is to establish regular activities, carved out of the everyday rush, to be present with your family. Not only will these occasions give you and your family something to look forward to, but, looking back, it will be these times together, and not the rush, that stand out as the defining moments.

Where we can find you online?
I can be reached via e-mail on oby@projectbabyng.com, on instagram @projectbaby_ng and @oby_o , and on snapchat @oby_o . That’s all the social media I can handle for now lol

 



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