That's not to downplay how difficult it can be: balancing professional life and bringing up children is tough. I don't believe that everybody can 'have it all', and it is naïve to expect to not have to make sacrifices. But I do believe that by considering what the ideal solution for your family would be, and having both parents strive to make that happen, families will begin to enjoy the freedom and happiness that should be commonplace but, sadly, is still not.
Despite the excitement around having a baby, in reality there is a lot of planning that comes with it that can seem daunting and stressful. When planning to take time off work, you want to make sure you create a plan that is best for you and your employer and make the most of the options available to you.
Flexible working itself requires highly sought-after skills, and we should not be afraid to draw this to the attention of recruiters and employers. We will need to prove ourselves and the value we bring. We are a flexible working PR and Communications consultancy, and here are some of the lessons we have learnt from our own experience:
The solution for many mums is to start up their own business. Mumprenuers have a lot of bad press (and personally I hate that word). I am not talking about mums making candles in their kitchen (although there is nothing wrong with this). I work with professional women who want to use their skills and experience to create successful businesses.
Surely we owe it to the next generation to prove we not only made educating women the norm, we also made it possible for them go on and do something with those highly educated brains? In an age when we can work across continents and timezones, do we really believe the only place and time to get the job done is 8am-6pm in the office.
Unfortunately, career changes mean starting at the bottom. Or they mean working evenings and weekends, building up a business or working freelance, and missing out on family time. What's the other choice? Oh, yeah. Work part-time for peanuts whilst paying what feels like a billion pounds for childcare.
If asked, many so-called 'mumpreneurs' will admit the initial transition to self-employment was not as a result of a positive choice, but as a frustrated response to inhospitable workplace cultures, the rising cost of childcare, inflexible work schedules, poor quality part-time jobs, and discriminatory attitudes
No one is amazed that my wife also works around the children. I am in awe of my wife and all that she does at work, home and with the children, and I am privileged that I am around to see it. I am more productive and happier when I can work around my family, and I want to give my staff work that works too.
The pay gap between men and women is increasing. And one of the main reasons for this is because women aren't getting the promotions or progressing with their careers at the same rate as men. The current rules around flexible working are not robust enough (employees can request flexible working but employers can just as easily refuse it), and attitudes need to change.
Everyone has the right to request flexible working, whether or not you are a parent or a carer. And flexible working comes in many forms. It's not just about working fewer hours. It could be working compressed hours, or from home, or agreeing different hours during term time and the school holidays.
It's a simple fact that without good teachers, recognised and rewarded as highly skilled professionals and with working conditions to enable them to focus on teaching and learning, children and young people will not receive their entitlement to high quality education provision. Yet that simple fact seems to be alien to too many of those employing and managing the teaching workforce.