GUILT-RIDDEN, TORN BETWEEN TWO ROLES AND OVER-LOOKED -The current state-of-mind of working mums today
*Over three quarters (80%) of women feel guilty about going back to work and worry about leaving their child in the care of others compared with just 39% of men.
*Childcare responsibilities still fall on the mother’s shoulders, even when both parents are working.
*A fifth of dads (20%) say they wished they hadn’t gone back to work after having a family, saying they wished they could have looked after their child while over a third (37%) of men say they work full time with NO flexibility at all.
New research into the state of mind of working parents in the UK has found that we are a nation divided with women battling to find a healthy work-life balance, taking on the majority of childcare responsibilities while not at work. The research, undertaken for The Work & Family Show which is due to take place for the first time on 21st and 22nd February, found that over three quarters of women (80%) feel guilty about going back to work after having a family. Men, on the other hand, are relatively confident about returning to their jobs with just 39% feeling guilty about leaving their children in childcare.
The biggest concern for more than 35% of women was not having the help or understanding from their employer when dealing with the difficult transition from working woman to working mum. They also worried that their employers would be discriminatory towards them, entrusting them with responsibility and fewer big projects.
One mum who struggled to return to work after having a baby is 31 year old Leah McGrath. She returned to her role as an HR Service Manager at a large agra-pharmaceutical company after a year at home with her daughter. The plan was for Leah to do a job share but this fell through and she found herself fitting in a full time job into her contracted three days a week. She says: “I was finding it such a struggle, commuting three hours, three days a week, and trying my best to be a good mum. I was getting ill all the time; whenever there was a virus going around, I would catch it as I was so run down and my little girl’s behaviour was becoming very challenging. After a while I realised there must be more to life and resigned. It was extremely scary but I am so pleased I did.” Leah has since re-trained as a yoga teacher, running her own Yogabellies franchise, teaching pre-natal, post-natal and baby massage classes in her local wellbeing and community centres. She has managed to get a healthy work-life balance and work flexibly but only by leaving her past career behind her.
Ben Black, Director of MyFamilyCare.co.uk who, together with Clarion Events, are organising The Work & Family Show says: “Due to the lack of support from their employers on returning to work, women often feel forced to give up the careers they have trained and worked so hard for in order to fit in their new role of motherhood. However, it shouldn’t be like this. Staff need to be supported as they return to work and deal with the challenges that being a working parent can bring. Employers who respond to their needs will be rewarded with engaged, productive and loyal employees.”
An alternative for working mums is to forget about the 9 to 5 and start up as a gigger (freelancer or contractor) instead. Deciding when to work, who to work with and to some extent how much to charge provides enormous flexibility for mums. Forty percent of the UK’s 1.88 million freelancers are women and the vast majority of those started out recently are new mothers. Companies like GIGLY are focused on helping people navigate the gig economy. This includes finding mums their next gig (project or contract) and providing gigger services such as mortgages, tax and training.
The research also asked fathers how they felt about the transition from working man to working dad. More than a third (37%) said they returned to work and received no flexibility at all. One in five, meanwhile, said they wished they had never gone back to work at all, wishing they could take on the full-time role of child carer.
Ben Black continues: “So many big companies like Barclays, Discovery Channel and Rolls Royce have made big improvements to their policies to help their parents who work, but these results show there’s a huge deficit. Women shouldn’t feel restricted in work when they become a mother and a man’s role in bringing up a child has evolved so much in the past 30 years and it’s time that businesses recognise this too.”
The Work & Family Show has been born out of the high demand from families in need of help when returning to work or starting up their own business. Jenny Willott, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs, will introduce the show while inspirational experts and employers on the lookout for motivated staff will be on hand to give working parents and career break women access to practical advice. Organised by Clarion Events and My Family Care, it takes place on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd February 2014 at the ExCeL London. Tickets are available from www.theworkandfamilyshow.co.uk from just £12, and people coming to the neighbouring Baby Show will have free entrance*.
Notes from the editor
This blog is managed by Clare Macnaughton is a modern military mother; a feminist British military spouse, and lifestyle journalist, writing about real life adventures.
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