Finding ways to balance family commitments and career ambitions can be challenging for parents, but whether you’re returning to work after having a baby or looking to improve existing routine, support is available.
Almost three-quarters of two-parent families in the UK have both parents in employment. The employment rate for mothers in the UK has been steadily rising and is currently as high as 74.0%, which is an increase of nearly 13% in the previous 12 years.
In general, employment rates are higher than ever for both women and men with dependent children than those without, as a result of advances in modern technology and the flexibility workplaces across the country are providing their employees.
Working From Home
In April 2020, 46.6% of people in employment did some work at home. Over 86.0% of these were doing so as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, however modern technology has made the switch to home-working easier than ever. We have four tips to help
- Consider your workspace carefully
If you have to create a new space in your home to carry out your working duties, it is important to consider if the location and setup are appropriate. Try set up in a place where you can simultaneously stay focus and keep an eye on your children.
- Stay flexible
With having children, every day is unlike the last and staying flexible is crucial to staying on top of your work. Find a system that works for you and be prepared to adapt it when life throws you challenges.
- Prioritise and schedule
Having family responsibilities means you will not always have enough time to dedicate to your work, therefore it is vital you prioritise the most important tasks during the day and plan for the week ahead
- Work as a team
Work in combination with your partner where possible and share the responsibilities of childcare. If you are a single parent, ask for occasional support from another family member or a trusted friend, meaning the kids will not be ignored and you can focus on your work.
Support for Single Parents
Around 1.8 million single parents make up nearly a quarter of all families with dependent children. If you are a single parent on a low income, the government offers financial support through numerous means, such as tax credits or child benefit, providing some added relief to your monthly outgoings.
If you have young children and earn under £100k, you can also apply for up to 30 hours tax-free childcare. There are also many free webinars for new and existing parents, and articles from single parents who have forged a successful career whilst making the most of their family commitments.
Family-Life vs Work-Life
For many parents, juggling family responsibilities with their careers aspirations is challenging – particularly for those working from home. Not every worker has access to flexible working hours but regardless of your routine, finding the right balance between work commitments and obligations at home will help reduce stress levels and maintain focus.
You need to ask yourself questions such as ‘do I get enough sleep?’ and ‘do I dedicate enough time to myself?’. Here are some tips on striking a balance.
- Get organised by planning in advance, particularly for hectic times such as morning routines. Laying out both yours and your children’s clothes for the next day can save a lot of unnecessary stress.
- Make time for yourself by setting aside at least one evening a week to do something you enjoy, and ensure you get all the sleep you need. A poor sleeping pattern can affect your health and mental wellbeing.
- Find out if your work can be flexible, talk to your manager if your workload is becoming too much. You may be surprised options that are potentially available, such as flexible hours or working from home a couple of days every week.
- Leave work at work. With modern technology making communication more accessible, it can be tempting to check emails or make a quick call to the office, but whatever your obligations it is essential to switch off and minimise distraction during family time.
- Plan meals ahead and batch cook where possible to save the stress of preparing food throughout the week. Freezing leftovers can also add another meal to your weekly plan
- Make use of the internet by reading articles written by other parents or signing up to free webinars with advice and tips for working families.
We’ve more advice on how to achieve the perfect work-life balance and other great advice here.