Today, over 2.2 million parents are not working in order to look after their family. However, more than 60% are looking to return to work but do not know how to or are scared of how they will manage to look after their children and focus on work. There are more companies than ever before who have introduced fantastic ways of helping their caring workforce have a happy and healthy work-life balance – so it is possible!
There are ways to increase the harmony between children and work, so here are my tips for working parents trying to juggle work and children:
- Flexible working – Technology these days means you can work just about anywhere! So many companies are able to enforce flexible working practises because technology allows you to check your emails from the school gates, skype from your sitting room and have a conference call in the car. If you need to leave early for childcare reasons, you can easily log on later and finish off what you were doing. And so long as you’re contactable, everybody’s happy!
- Family-friendly doesn’t mean just mums looking after their children and it’s important to remember that! Men of course take a lot of responsibility these days so when making suggestions, team up with the men in your company who may also be affected. In addition, many employees, particularly in their 40’s (aka the ‘sandwich generation’) will have the added responsibility of looking after elderly parents who may need them at any given moment. Help your company understand this and they will make more of an effort to accommodate everyone’s individual circumstances.
- Look into schemes that your employer can sign up to that help working parents. If staff have a childcare breakdown but are needed in the office for an important meeting, thanks to the emergency childcare that the company is signed up to, they will have a nanny to their door within two hours, meaning their employee’s presence won’t be affected. Most forward thinking directors will be happy to pick up the costs for this if it means the business benefits in the long run.
- Be organised. Don’t just put together a half-hearted to-do list, go a step further and establish a schedule for your week. Include your childcare plans and how much time you’re going to spend on leisure/work/family. If you’re planning on working for eight hours, allot an estimated time for each project or task — even the big projects — you’ve got on your to-do list.
- Avoid falling into the time-wasting trap of replying to emails and returning phone calls. Instead, allot 30 minutes a day to take care of all of your follow-ups rather than regularly staring at your phone and inbox.
- Always have something to look forward to. One of the reasons we work is so we can allow ourselves to take care of the basic needs of life and to have fun. So what good is all the hard work if you don’t have something fun to look forward to? On a small scale, arrange a night out with your friends at the weekend and on a larger scale book a holiday away with your family for a week and enjoy those hard earned days off! The more you have to look forward to, the easier it is to remember why you’re putting in so much hard work in the first place.
A mum who made it work – “For me, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
Sometimes a change in career is what is needed to create the perfect work/life balance, as Sarah Boden, 25 from the Lake District found.
Sarah Boden lived in France for nearly four years after having trained as a teaching assistant, before heading back to the UK and settling in Windermere where she enjoys the outdoor life. She has three daughters aged five, four and three.
After suffering from three traumatic birthing experiences Sarah decided to sign up to the Birth ROCKS Academy course (www.birthrocksacademy.com) to help other women and ensure that what happened to her didn’t happen to other mums to be.
Having three young girls and balancing a new career was no easy feat! With help from her grandparents and husband, Sarah completed the Birth ROCKS Angel package – a combination of the Birth/Baby ROCKS and the Birth ROCKS massage training. Due to her already-busy schedule, her husband, who’s a head chef, organised time off to look after the children which helped greatly.
Sarah says: “The training was extremely rewarding. It’s helped me personally overcome the trauma involved in the births of my daughtersand opened my world to a whole new career which I love. In order to keep things as busy as possible I’m currently in the process of becoming a doula – ‘a mother for the mother,’ who helps by offering emotional and practical support to pregnant women.
“This line of work really helps women and couples overcome any fears they may have during pregnancy, about the labour and becoming new parents, or helping them overcome a fear from a previous birthing experience – and for me, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
Author: Oliver Black is the proud father of twins and a young daughter. Together with his brother, Ben and friend Amanda Coxen, he runs one of the UK’s leading nanny agencies, Tinies. He is also one of the founders of My Family Care, who are passionate about helping employees with their work & family strategies.