Last week was a big week for Parental Choice. I went up to London to speak to a couple of big name corporates about using Parental Choice to provide childcare resource services for their employees. Companies that recognise that work / life balance is an equal right to all; mums and dads whether they work flexibly or not. Its at times like this that I really feel that Parental Choice can make a difference. It also makes me feel good to be working and using my brain, and more importantly to be setting a good example to my daughters!
Or at least so I thought!
As I was putting on my suit and trying to look as professional as I could, Daughter no.1 piped up. “Where are you going Mummy?”. “I’m going to London darling“. “Why Mummy?” “Because I have to work, sweetie“. “Don’t be silly Mummy. Only Daddies work Mummy!”
Now, given that nearly all the mothers I know work at least part time, if not full time, I’m not entirely sure where she has got that idea from, especially as I spend my live juggling work and looking after her! I’m also convinced that this is not the right impression for her to have! So much for feminism eh? I don’t think Pankhurst would have taken too kindly to my daughter’s antiquated ideas!
More to the point, the latest research clearly shows that she’s wrong (not unusual for a a two year old!). According to the Fatherhood Institute, a substantial number of fathers are now full or part time “home dads”: among fathers of under-fives, 21% are solely responsible for childcare at some point during the working week and 43% of fathers of school-aged children provide care before/after school. Fewer fathers than mothers now believe that it is a mother’s job to look after children. When it comes to working and caring, more fathers than mothers now believe that the highest earner should work full-time, regardless of gender. I know that my other half would much prefer not to have to work the ridiculous long hours he does right now and to spend much more time with his girls.
When I worked in the City, I came across numerous high profile women whose husbands stayed at home to look after the children. They gave me inspiration to push my limits and be as ambitious as I could be even when I had had my children. Your working lives don’t have to end just because you have kids. Yes its hard but economic necessity as well as the need to use your brain for projects other than changing nappies means that more and more women are choosing to go back to work. In fact according to the latest Government statistics, 66.5% of mothers work. This has been greatly helped by policy changes such as the expansion of Sure Start and employment laws that have introduced better parental leave and pay and the right to request flexible working which as of today has been extended to all.
That doesn’t mean that more shouldn’t be done to help mums get back to work. Employers aren’t exactly the most pro-active when it comes to sorting out flexible working and the cost of childcare doesn’t exactly help. But before I launch off onto one my usual tirades against the system (!), I’ll leave the last word to my daughter who as always has a great way of putting everything into perspective!
“Of course Mummies work darling. We all have to work when we grow -up“. “Mmmmm, when I grow-up Mummy, I’m going to play”.