With 2.2 million parents not at work in order to look after their family, how can they be eased back into working life? Oliver Black, director of My Family Care, says 60% are wanting to return, but are worried about childcare and balance work. Here's how you can achieve the equilibrium...
Balancing childcare and work
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.
- 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.