Flexible working for moms: a reality or a myth?

Working mothers

Are there notable flexible working opportunities for moms?

From my personal experience, no matter how old your child is, it is indeed challenging to balance motherhood and work, especially work from home. Setting priorities according to my needs and what is more important for me to achieve at a time, helped me a lot. Do you prefer to invest more in your career? Do you prefer to spend more time with your kids? Whatever you decide to do is fine. Just stay aligned with your goals! Research has shown that we can successfully manage motherhood and a prosperous career. How reassuring this sound! Furthermore, another research found that girls whose moms worked are more likely to grow up having successful careers and hold more supervisory responsibilities. Whereas the sons of working mothers spent more time as adults caring for family members.

Are there notable flexible working opportunities and what exactly means flexible working?  Flexible working is a phrase that describes any working pattern adapted to suit your needs. Flexible working may be a part-time work, a work from home, a job sharing or a flexi-time (choosing when to work). Many moms are looking for flexible working to have a better work-life balance, while spending more time with their family. Many companies, especially after the pandemic, shifted to flexible working policies.

Perhaps the most obvious impact of COVID-19 on the labor force is the dramatic increase in employees working remotely. Remote working has lots of advantages, but does this apply to parents as well? As work has shifted, boundaries have become increasingly difficult to draw.

Benefits of working from home:

  • Better work-life balance. Many remote jobs come with flexible schedules, which means that workers can start and end their day as they choose, as long as their work is complete.
  • Less Commute Stress. More than 30 minutes of daily one-way commuting is associated with increased levels of stress and anxiety. The time savings can allow you to focus on priorities outside of work, like getting extra sleep in the morning, spending more time with family, getting in a workout, or eating a healthy breakfast.
  • Location Independence. This is a great way to avoid high-rent and high-mortgage areas, especially for positions that require living in a city with a high cost of living.
  • Money Savings. Gas, car maintenance, transportation, parking fees, a professional wardrobe, lunches bought out, and more can all be reduced or eliminated.
  • Increased Productivity and Performance. Remote workers typically have more time and fewer distractions, which leads to increased productivity.
  • A Happier, Healthier Work Life. Remote, flexible workers tend to be happier and more loyal employees, in part because working from home has been shown to lower stress, provide more time for hobbies and interests, and improve personal relationships, among other things.

While sounds great to work from home, let’s now have a look at what happens when you have kids! I don’t really like to be on my computer for hours in front of my child. Sometimes I find myself checking my phone for work, depriving my attention and I am wondering how this could affect my child’s future? How could this attitude affect my child’s perception of how we work and spend our time? 

Research conducted in the past decade has shown parents’ attitudes and behaviours around work can have an impact on their children. A substantial number of workers mimicked the patterns of their parents. What if my child believes that I am absorbed doing other tasks that matter more than her? When you are working in front of your kid, it is like you are removed from family while you are physically present. I believe that deep down children are fully aware of their parents’ situation. They can feel the emotional distance of their parents. If parents are busy working, even in front of their kids, but after certain time they devote full attention to them, then kids are fulfilled, and their development is not affected. Here below are some tips to adjust working remotely with kids:

– Be clear about employer and family expectations and establish ground rules. The employer should know that there may be ‘distractions’ and the family should be aware that you are not always available.

– Create a dedicated work area and set up boundaries. Consider working in a space with a door that you can shut. This creates a more obvious separation between work and life. Explain to your children that they cannot disturb you during the working day and reward the good behavior.

– Find activities for children that require minimal supervision (e.g. games, puzzles, educational applications on tablet) or plan a timeslot for homework.

– Schedule family time on your calendar and plan your conference calls at a quiet time during the day. If a work meeting can be scheduled, so can anything else. Put family functions on your calendar. That could be lunch, time for fitness/meditation, or engaging with your kids.

– Set realistic goals. Do not expect that the children will always fully comply with your schedule.

– Benefit from some quiet time while children are sleeping. As you don’t waste time commuting, let children sleep in and use this time to make a quick start. If your children take a nap in the afternoon, benefit from this time, especially for tasks that require more concentration.

– Work alternate timings with your partner. When both you and your partner work from home, it can be useful to alternate some time with the children. While one parent focuses on work, the other parent can play a game with the children.

– Prepare a number of meals in advance during the weekend so to save yourself a lot of time.

– Maintain a strong work- life balance. Once your work day is done, shut down your PC and enjoy the evening. Plan something fun, like a family game night for example.

References

Lund, S., Madgavkar, A., Manyika, J., Smit, S., Ellingrud, K., & Robinson, O. (2021, February 18). The future of work after COVID-19 | McKinsey. Retrieved from www.mckinsey.com website: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/the-future-of-work-after-covid-19

Top tips on working from home with kids. (n.d.). www.robertwalters.co.uk. https://www.robertwalters.co.uk/career-advice/tips-for-remote-working-parents.html

Flexible working and work-life balance | nidirect. (2015, November 19). Nidirect. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/flexible-working-and-work-life-balance

Turits, M. (n.d.). How remote working could be changing children’s futures. www.bbc.com. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20220218-how-home-working-could-be-changing-childrens-futures

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