What impact does family size have on career aspirations and attitudes to flexi working?

Shalin Maina analyses the workingmums.co.uk annual survey results based on family size, with interesting results.

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Workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey results, based on over 2,000 participants’ responses to over 70 questions, provide valuable insights into how different issues impact families of varying sizes, including factors such as ways of working, mental health, career decisions and debt.

We looked in detail at what the impact would be on each of these areas for parents of one child, parents of two children, parents of three, parents of four and parents of more than four children. The findings make interesting reading.

Attitudes to flexible working and childcare sharing:

● 71% of respondents with one child prefer flexible working, and this figure increases to 84% for those with two children.
● Families are also more likely to share childcare equally if they have two children rather than one. However, in families with four or more children, there is a trend towards one parent taking on more childcare duties.

Mental health:

● Parents with two children are significantly more likely to report a child experiencing mental health issues than those with one child.
● Larger families, with five or more children, face a higher prevalence of child mental health issues.

Career decisions:

● Parents of two children are more than twice as likely to report  a stall in their career due to childcare responsibilities than parents with one child.
● Larger families of five or more children show a higher incidence of career stalls.

Cost of living crisis:

● Families with more children are more likely to use food banks. Families with three or more children are significantly more likely to be in debt than those with smaller families.

Childcare availability:

● 43% of respondents with one child are affected by childcare availability in terms of working hours, rising to 62% for those with two children.
● Families with three or more children are significantly impacted, with 83% facing challenges in working hours due to childcare.

Childcare costs:

● Families with two children were less likely to need paid childcare than those with one child.
● Families with four or more children have a higher proportion relying on relatives and friends for childcare, suggesting financial constraints.

Career development and change:

● Families with one or two children show a higher tendency to retrain compared to those with five or more children.
● Families with more children are less likely to change sectors or start a business.

Hybrid work:

● Families with two children express more satisfaction with hybrid work, while those with one child show a lower preference for hybrid work.

Future job prospects:

● Families with fewer children show a higher inclination towards seeking jobs and changing sectors in the near future
● Larger families are less likely to have plans for job-seeking or sector change.

In conclusion, the survey outcomes offer a comprehensive understanding of the complexities within families of varying sizes. The statistical analysis has illuminated the diverse challenges encountered by households with different numbers of children. Notably, families with two children seem to exhibit a higher satisfaction with hybrid work arrangements, while larger families face distinct challenges in childcare responsibilities and financial strain.

Despite the invaluable insights gained, it is imperative to acknowledge the survey’s limitations, including potential participant biases. These findings underscore the necessity for targeted interventions and supportive measures, recognising the unique needs of families based on their size. Policymakers and employers should heed this call for
nuanced approaches, ensuring inclusivity and tailored support for families of all sizes.

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