Policy is failing to recognise or meet the needs of working mums during the COVID-19...read more
A workingmums.co.uk poll finds the shock of becoming a working parent is still something that few are prepared for.
The majority of parents say they were not at all aware of the issues facing working parents before they had children, according to a workingmums.co.uk poll.
Fifty-eight per cent of parents said they were not at all aware of the issues facing working parents. Thirty four per cent said they were aware, but didn’t totally get them, while just nine per cent said they were very aware. One issue that was singled out was childcare costs.
In the last few years there have been a huge number of surveys of working parents and general discussion about childcare costs, parental leave, flexible working. Rarely a week goes by when there is not a story about these issues in the national media.
However, experts say it can be hard to really prepare for how having a baby turns your world upside down and, even if you know about issues such as childcare costs and sleeplessness, it is not the same as living them. Moreover, every parent’s situation is different and so there is often no template to follow. You have to carve it out for yourself, which takes time.
Many parents also say that they were fairly unsympathetic towards parents in the workplace before they themselves had children and that their views have since changed.
Given the difficulty of preparing fully for parenthood, the focus has been on providing support at the point when parents need it. Progressive employers recognise that the transition to parenthood is a big shock to the system and that people need time and support to adapt. Many now offer maternity and paternity packages to help parents ease back to work after parental leave. Global learning company Pearson, for instance, offers parents gradual return on full pay, as does Vodafone. Some offer help with finding childcare or childcare support.
Others have parenting networks and new parent workshops where new parents can meet with others who have more experience and can help them through the first months back. Construction company Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, for instance, has an informal parental buddying system which matches up new parents with those with years of experience. HR director Dawn Moore is one of the buddies and says many are still in touch after the first months back. “It can bring together people from different parts of the business who have gone through similar challenges,” she says.