I remember when I first went back to work after having a baby. Most of my colleagues were unmarried, child-free and unable to relate to the difficulties of working parents trying to juggle work with children. “The times they are a changing”, I think as I saw this wonderful poster at a large London agency yesterday.
It’s great that an employer recognises that there are particular challenges to balancing family and work, which can be solved with the right level of support and understanding. At the same time acknowledging that parents are valued employees who haven’t suddenly gone to seed, just because they arrive at work with yoghurt smeared across their shoulder.
Snot and Weetabix
It seems like a long time ago for us now, but I remember those trying years like they were yesterday! Trying to function in meetings on little sleep, the coughs and colds and sudden temperatures that necessitate a day off at short notice, trying to keep your work clothes free of snot and Weetabix every morning, and the urgent phone calls from nursery or school because little one has bumped their head. Not forgetting the need to leave on the dot to get home before chucking out time, and arriving at nursery to find that your little darling has a bump note, not eaten at all or has bitten 5 children during the course of the day (true story!).
At work there were raised eyebrows because of repeated days off ill or to look after a sick child, lack of understanding about arrival and departure time, and social invitations dried up because they assumed you had no life outside of Pampers-land.
Work life balance
Not all employers are the same, and I was lucky enough to have a more understanding employer and boss when number 2 child arrived. For my part I always tried to give my team the understanding and flexibility they needed to care for family (whether children or older relatives) and accommodate part-time working or job-shares as well as supporting people through those blips that happen as part of our lives. I believe that with the right support employees will repay that understanding many times over. And importantly, dads are parents too – not just mums.
I like to hope that employers and colleagues are more aware of the challenges of balancing professional and home life now, which is why I was so chuffed to see this Parents Forum poster yesterday. Power to the parents!