Navigating child-care and keeping a foothold in your career

School holidays are a real crunch time for parents navigating child-care and keeping a foothold in their careers. Lack of family support, the transition from the flexibility of daycare hours, and not enough annual leave, make school holidays a particularly difficult balancing act!

The research into gender equality and the participation of women in paid employment suggests that child-care challenges are one of the reasons women drop out of the ‘pipeline’ to leadership. With my son about to start school I was both personally and professionally curious about how other parents navigate their working lives as well as care of their children.

So in a LinkedIn post I asked for tips and advice on this, as well as what support they were receiving from the organisations they worked for. I found some really useful ideas in the contributions and have compiled them here in case there is something for other parents navigating this.

What you can do if you’re navigating school holidays and child-care,

  • Be kind to yourself. It can take a while to get into a rhythm.
  • Make adjustments to your workload so you can be there for your kids. This may require some negotiation with your manager and colleagues.
  • Work flexible days and flexible hours. This has gotten easier since Covid as more people expect, and understand, the demands of working and child-care.
  • Tag in and out with your partner by working shifts and taking turns who is working and who is looking after the kids. Check in regularly around meetings and work deadlines.
  • Take turns with your village. Find a group of other parents and alternate looking after each other’s children. For example, everyone takes a day to look after a group of kids. That way your kids get to play with their friends and you share the load.
  • Work from home with activities, games for the kids. This gets easier as they get older and are more self-sufficient. This could also include taking your kids into the office.
  • Tap into parents or family support if you have it available.
  • Utilise school holiday programmes. There are some great ones that can extend interest areas for your child.
  • Purchase more annual leave. Or, better yet, negotiate for more annual leave as part of your salary package.
  • Go into self-employment. Being self-employed could give you working patterns that better suit your family and professional life. This is not for everyone though. There is a lot of financial uncertainty that goes along with self-employment as well as the challenge in growing a financially viable business while prioritising child-care. I could write a whole nother blog on this subject!

What your organisation can do to support you,

  • Consider alternative work arrangements whereby employees get paid for what they deliver while working hours that work for them.  For example, Work School Hours
  • Build family friendly work cultures where it’s ok to bring kids into the office.

I hope you found something useful here. If there is something you’d like me to add, I’d love it if you could let me know through my contact form.

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