“Hey, Mom” Interview with Zerina Rahmen

May we introduce?
Zerina Rahmen is a graduate business economist, entrepreneur, member of the FDP Basel-Stadt Women and Vice President of the FDP Riehen-Bettingen. In 2021 she was elected to the school board. Among other things, Zerina is committed to the compatibility of family and career and access to daycare centers for all segments of the population. Zerina and her husband have a daughter. 

Zerina, you work one hundred percent for a pharmaceutical company, are involved in your family business on the side, enjoy sports, and are also politically active. You also recharge your batteries as a mother, as you write on your website. How do you organize yourself to balance everything?
Our daughter attends daycare three times a week. This is worth its weight in gold because the staff at the daycare center does a great job every day. We are very happy that there are opportunities like this. The other two days we organize ourselves in the family. My mother-in-law and my parents help out a lot. My husband and I plan from week to week.

You chose to have children and a career – why?
Nowadays, a woman shouldn’t have to ask herself this question at all. “Child or career” – it should and must be possible to have both. 
Of course it is often stressful. You try to be a good mother and successful in your job at the same time. You take on different roles that you want to do justice to, which is not always easy. That’s why it’s also close to my heart to get involved in this area and create more opportunities so that a mother can pursue her work and fulfill herself with a clear conscience.

What are the biggest challenges for you as a “working mom” in everyday life?
It was an adjustment, especially in the beginning, to always be guided by my daughter, because she sets the pace. I can no longer be spontaneous and flexible like I was without a child. Everything has to be planned, because a child requires a lot of organization. 
But the biggest challenge is sleep. I could count on one hand how many times our daughter has slept through the night. That is very difficult when you have to function 100% the next day.

What are moments in your daughter’s life that you don’t want to miss?
My daughter’s birthdays are always very important to me. That’s when my husband and I always take the day off to spend with her.
Rituals like eating together in the evening and reading a book to her before she goes to sleep are also very important to me, and I want to keep them up. As she gets older, it’s the first day of kindergarten, starting school, etc.

You can’t always do both. How do you handle it when you have to choose between work and family commitments? Which comes first?
For me, it’s very clear that my family always comes first.

To what extent is compatibility an issue for you at work – especially in your role as an employee of a large pharmaceutical company?
My boss has two young children himself and a working wife. That helps enormously, of course, because he knows the situation well. In my experience large companies in particular have a lot of experience with working mothers and offer support (e.g. help with finding a daycare center, offering their own daycare center, etc.).

What is your ideal workload and why?
I have always worked 100%, I don’t know anything else. Currently it suits me very well, but who knows what will come.

When your child is sick, who is the first to step in at home – you or your husband?
Both of us. It always depends on what the child has, but in those moments our daughter comes first. Of course, there are moments when she would rather have her mom with her.

You work full time. Cross your heart, do you feel guilty from time to time that you spend so much time on self-realization?
I have that a lot. I would argue that every working mom does. But I know that she is very well looked after by others, be it in the daycare center or with our family, which calms me down a bit in those moments. In my opinion, it is also important that a child learns to be independent from an early age. And it can’t do that if it’s always with its mother. 

Are you a well-coordinated team, or are there areas where you wish men, or specifically your husband, were more hands-on?
I am very lucky to have a great husband by my side. He helps wherever he can. We are a great team, which I am very proud of – we help each other where we can and try to manage everything together.
Whether it’s our daughter or my career, I can count on my husband’s support 100%. This support from partners and family is hugely important, especially if you want to realize yourself as a woman. 

Your daughter is looked after by others. How do you notice what is good for her in this? What is it specifically?
A lot of things. For example, she is learning English because she attends an English-speaking daycare center.
And of course there’s the social aspect: being with other children, learning to share, being independent, and so on. I’m a huge fan of daycare centers because I see what my daughter learns not only at home but also during extracurricular care and how she develops.

How do you live compatibility?
For me, compatibility means being a mother and being able to pursue my career/profession at the same time – thanks to the support of my husband, our family and the daycare center.

Awina is committed to improving the compatibility of work and family life by providing earmarked loans for daycare financing. But what does reconciliation actually look like in everyday life? In the series “Hey, Mom”, “Hey, Dad”, working parents talk openly about their experiences and challenges as working parents and give insight into how they personally reconcile children and career.