Finding ways to balance family commitments and career ambitions can be challenging when you have children. Nonetheless, whether you’re returning to work after having a baby or looking to improve your 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 75%. This is an increase of over 9% in the last two decades.
In general, employment rates are higher than ever for both women and men with dependent children than those without. This is a result of advances in technology and the flexibility that businesses across the country are providing their employees.
Working From Home
From April to June 2021, 12.1% of parents in employment mainly worked from home. In recent years, modern technology has made switching to working from home easier than ever.
Here are some tips to make help facilitate the switch:
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 setting up a separate work and family space that allows you to stay focused but also keep an eye on your children.
When you have children, no two days are the same so flexibility is crucial to staying on top of your work. Find a system that makes sense 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, you must prioritise the most important tasks during the day and plan for the week ahead.
Work as a Team
Where possible, work in combination with your partner and share the responsibilities of childcare. If you are a single parent, ask for occasional support from another family member or a trusted friend. This will mean that the children will be looked after and you can stay focused on your work.
For more information, check out our dedicated page on Why switch to working from home.
Support for Single Parents
In 2021, there were 3 million single parents in the UK, making up over 15% 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 benefits. These can provide some added relief to your monthly outgoings.
If you have young children and earn under £100k, you can apply for up to 30 hours of tax-free childcare. There are many free online resources, such as webinars for new and existing parents and articles from single parents. They share their stories of how they forged successful careers while making the most of their family commitments.
Family Life vs Work Life
For many parents, juggling family responsibilities with their career 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.
Ask yourself questions such as ‘Do I get enough sleep?’ and ‘Do I dedicate enough time to myself?’. Here are some top tips on striking a healthy balance:
Get organised by planning ahead, particularly for hectic times such as morning routines. Laying out both your 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 well-being.
Find out if your work can be flexible and speak to your manager if your workload is becoming too much. You may be surprised by the options that are potentially available, such as flexible hours or working from home a couple of days every week.
Don’t Take Work Home
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 may be, it’s essential to switch off and minimise distractions during family time.
Plan meals 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 for free webinars with advice and tips for working families.
For more information on finding the perfect balance, head over to our page on How to strike a work-life balance.
Working Around Existing Commitments: Children
Family time is precious. And we all feel the need to make the most of it whenever we can. However, there’s no denying that work is also a necessary part of life. Therefore, the sooner we can strike a healthy balance between our work lives and our family lives, the better.
If you’re struggling to juggle career and family life, you’re not alone. We have plenty of support and resources for working parents in our dedicated section on Parenthood, including job application tips and CV writing tips. Check out our jobs board for parents for all the latest opportunities in your area.
Don’t hesitate to contact our team if you have any questions. And to stay up-to-date with Refreshing a Career, sign up for our newsletter using the form below.