To highlight Parent’s Week (21–25th October), we thought we’d use the opportunity to focus on issues that affect working parents today. From parental rights and flexible working, to managing guilt and self-care, we provide some tips on juggling work commitments with parental responsibilities.
1# Social events
Finding that work-life balance can be especially challenging with a family. For many working parents, it’s difficult to find time to attend social events with colleagues, especially if they happen to fall outside of working hours. However, there are ways you can maintain your social life and work relationships, without impacting your childcare responsibilities.
Top tip: Suggest a lunch or coffee break and try to make time to speak to your colleagues during the working day.
For many, the flexible learning set-up allows them to better manage the daily responsibilities of being a parent. There are plenty of studies that suggest flexible working is not only a practical solution for many, but also increases levels of productivity, which means that employers can benefit too.
Top tip: If this is something that interests you, then speak to your line manager or HR team to discuss your options.
Know your rights
There will be times when you have to drop everything for your child, whether it’s to collect them from school or the nursery due to sickness or childcare falling through. You can take time off work (unpaid) to deal with any unexpected issues or emergencies involving your children. In fact, every parent is entitled to a certain amount of unpaid leave up to the child’s 18th birthday.
Top tip: Talk to your employer and find out what your parental rights are. Employers should be supportive and allow an amount of flexibility (within reason), so it’s important to understand the rules surrounding parental leave.
How to reduce guilt while at work
Parents can find the prospect of returning to work following maternity or paternity leave both distressing and upsetting. It’s normal to feel this way, especially as you’ve spent weeks or months bonding with your new baby.
Top tip: If you’re struggling with feelings of guilt, try and rationalise why this might be and write down any thoughts that come into your mind. Talk to a trusted colleague, partner or friend, and come up with a contingency plan so that you’re prepared for next time. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and that such feelings are completely normal.
Self care: hints and tips
It’s important you try and make time for yourself during a busy working week. This can be as simple as a walk in the park, a meal out with a friend, or an exercise class. Sometimes all it takes is some meaningful interaction or an hour to yourself, away from the laptop (and baby!)
Here are a few suggestions – why not give one a go?
- Arrange for childcare and schedule 1 hour per week (or more, if the budget allows!) for a coffee and chat with a close friend.
- Take a brisk walk in the park and listen to a podcast. This is a great way to get exercise, fresh air and engage in an interesting debate or topic of choice.
- Call a friend, parent or loved one.
- Keep a journal and write for a few minutes each night – it’s a lovely way to unwind and clear your mind for a good night’s sleep.
Workforce are passionate about supporting working parents as we think it’s important to allow people the flexibility to be there for their children and to maintain the career that they’ve worked so hard for before they had children.
Two of our team benefit from some flexibility to make their lives easier as working parents. Sam Clarkson, PA to the directors said:
“I’d worked for Workforce before as a consultant and after having my children, was delighted to come back and work flexibly as a PA to Joe and Paul. As my children have grown up and started either school or pre-school, I have been able to change my hours around so that I can pick them up and drop them off. Ultimately, I get my work done in the hours that I’m in the office for – and work really hard during that time, so there’s no loss of productivity to the business at all. In fact, I think that if you want something doing, give it to a working mum as they’re brilliant at multi-tasking and doing things efficiently and effectively!”
Inna Shipley has recently returned to work after having her son who is now (x months old) and was delighted when Workforce allowed her to return to work on a phased basis. Inna said: “As a new mum, I was naturally a bit anxious about leaving my baby in childcare for a full week, so when I was able to come back to work on a phased basis, it was like a dream come true. I could get my head back in to my career but still have precious time with my baby.
Since I came back to work, I have actually been promoted to Operations Manager which is a great step forward in my career. Naturally as a working parent, there are times when I still need some flexibility with my hours around childcare, but I have a great team supporting me and with the technology that Workforce invest in, I’m able to catch up on my work if I need to. Flexible working as a parent has been a godsend and allowed me to be a mum and to have a great career.”