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  1. Key Strategies for Achieving a Balance between Work and Home. How do Working Parents do it?

    December 16, 2014 by Jenna

    We are delighted to share this week’s blog from Virginia Herlihy, who works for an organisation called How Do We Do It. They provide in-house programmes to help working parents in Australia and the UK combine their dual roles. For those of you that may not know her, here is her background below and we hope you enjoy her featured blog:

    A note from Founder, Virginia Herlihy

    My passion for helping working parents find a successful way to manage their work and home lives has meant I’ve witnessed first-hand the issues that organisations face in attracting and retaining talent, particularly female talent.

    As a working mother of two and a successful small business owner, I’ve personally faced the challenge of combining work and family.

    It’s been critical for me to examine and understand my values and develop strategies to achieve success and satisfaction in both areas of my life.

    My background in executive coaching, training and group facilitation means I can help both organisations and parents acquire those skills and strategies– to facilitate greater work-life harmony and success.

    I’m proud to say, the feedback we’ve received means the programmes and coaching we’ve developed, work.

    Key Strategies for Achieving a Balance between Work and Home. How do Working Parents do it?

    •  45% of couples with children under 2 are both in the workforce
    • 66% of couples with primary school children are both working. Australian Financial Review 2011

    Today many couples are jointly responsible for sharing their work and family responsibilities, so getting some kind of work/life balance can be a real challenge. If you’re a working mother you probably feel that family and work are competing (and constant) demands. You’re likely to be juggling your own expectations and responsibilities about how you should perform in both areas, as well as those of your colleagues and family. While mothers might get most of the attention when it comes to the challenge of balancing family and work, fathers also struggle to juggle their responsibilities and aspirations.

    So, how do YOU do it? Here are some tips that you have time to read because they are short and that we know help, from our experience with working with hundreds of working mothers and working fathers.

    • Strategy 1

    Continue to identify, acknowledge and appreciate the benefits of what you’re doing that is working for you/what you gain from the choice you are making to be a working parent.

    •  Strategy 2

    Remind yourself that you are not alone, and your challenges are normal which is very helpful in itself.  Keep actively talking to others like you and sharing experiences. Your network and the tips they share will help normalise your experience.

    •  Strategy 3

    Stop tuning in to others negative judgements/biases of how you are supposed to make being a working parent work. You can only get this right for you and your family/work.

    •  Strategy 4

    Get clear on your version of success as a working parent by answering theses questions – What does success look like for me as a working parent? What’s most important to me about my life? What’s most important to me about my working life?

    •  Strategy 5

    Avoid the language of compromise/trade off/sacrifice, which is negative and implies loss. Instead recognise that you are making choices, which have consequences and benefits so consciously use the language of choice.

    •  Strategy 6

    Use a scaling technique i.e. rating things from 1-10, low to high – to assess how much you want to do something out of 10 in terms of your energy, motivation, ability, how important it is to others etc. You can also use this to get perspective and rate how important something is in terms of your life overall so that you are less stressed by it. Your intuitive response will give you useful information.

    •  Strategy 7

    Check your energy around choices you are making/people with whom you are interacting and see whether or not you are being drained or filled.  When you have choice, in your personal life particularly, you can limit your exposure to draining people, situations.

    •  Strategy 8

    Remember to position shift – consider the decision/situation from different perspectives, your position, the other’s position.

    Author – Virginia Herlihy, Founder and Director of How do YOU Do It – Working Parents Programmes tailored to your business.

    Contact details:

     Who is How Do YOU Do It?

    • We deliver in-house programmes to help working parents in Australia and the UK combine their dual roles. We’re specialists in helping businesses support their talent.
    • We help businesses solve issues including female attraction and retention, flexible working strategies, as well as “on and off ramping”.
    • We help working parents find success at work and at home and balance their responsibilities in both areas
    • The result is a win/win for both businesses and parents

  2. Working After Baby: how have childcare issues affected your return to work?

    December 6, 2011 by Jenna

    Now, at the risk of offending stay-at-home dads, this is and will probably remain for some time to come an issue that almost universally affects women. 

    As a woman, and a mother of a three-year old, and expecting another baby soon, I feel very fortunate that: 

    a) I work for a flexible and supportive organisation and boss who enabled me to return to work at a time and pace that suited the changing needs of my small child 

    b) I was, after some effort and waiting and getting in early, able to secure a place two days a week for our son at a local childcare centre we remain delighted with 

    c) I have parents and parents-in-law who are besotted with their grandson and are able to care for him when extra help is needed 

    I was also very pleased to read the comments of two of the respondents to our most recent online pollHow much did childcare issues impact on your return to work? – reproduced below:

    – “Keeping a very organised schedule and ensuring our daughter attends a very good Early Learning Centre, childcare has not impacted on my return to work. I am now back at work 3 days per week. My daughter thoroughly enjoys the Early Learning Centre that she goes to and I thoroughly enjoy being back at work. The childcare centre follows a weekly learning program and my daughter loves all the activities that they do.” 

    – “A combination of a very supportive family, as well as great flexibility as far as my husband’s working hours, meant my return to work (when the baby was only 3 months old) was seamless. It did however mean that I hardly ever saw my husband!” 

    However, the news is not that great for a huge number of women. Another poll respondent recounted her struggles: 

    – “Because child care was too expensive, I relied on my parents and grandmother to look after my children. I also took on casual jobs where I had no super, no regular and secure income and no stability, just so that I could do the hours that suited my family’s needs. I also worked night shift so that I could be home with my children during the day; my husband then took over at night. Again, this was very difficult for me and my family, but financially it helped as the night casual rates were higher.”      

    Even for women with family support and access to care, the decision to leave their child can induce intense feelings of guilt and a deep sense of “missing out” during their child’s early years. A contact I spoke to regarding her experiences said that while she had no return to work issues relating to finding care (her father looks after her baby at home three days per week) or her company’s parenting policies, she finds it extremely challenging to juggle work, home, commuting and caring for her family, not to mention emotionally wrenching every time she departs. She would in fact, if she could afford it financially, remain at home. 

    An extensive poll conducted earlier this year by the online businesswomen’s network group sphinxx “found that children and careers fail to mix. Almost half of those surveyed (48%) said the cost of childcare had negatively hit their careers but not their partners – 71.6% said their partners hadn’t been held back at all. Almost three quarters of respondents (74%) agreed that quality child care is hard to come by.” [Source] 

    The poll also revealed that 92% of respondents cited the rising cost of childcare as a top policy issue in the next election. The founder of sphinx, Jen Dalitz, said “said both political parties should be seeing childcare as a top policy issue if they were ‘fair dinkum’ about helping women stay in the workforce and support more choices in the childcare industry. ‘It’s crazy that you can deduct expenses for laptops, iPads and cars, but receive no tax breaks for family day care or in-home care, especially in emergencies,’ she adds.” [Source] 

    Promoting the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Women Business Owners Poll, Ita Buttrose commented last week that “businesses are mad not to have more women in decision-making roles and has urged them to pay for nannies to ensure their female staff don’t fall off the career ladder. ‘I am a great believer in packages that include some support for the mother, whether it is a nanny or a housekeeper or whatever,’ she said. ‘You might not get the shares, or you might not get the car, but you balance one out against the other. Of course companies can do it. Women who want to continue their careers and have families should ask for that package from their employer and the workplace needs to think about how they are going to offer it.’ [Source]                                                      

    Further illustrating this issue, another respondent to the sphinxx poll commented: “Issues to do with availability and cost of childcare plague our mothers group. So much so that two teachers, a HR professional and an IT Manager have decided they cannot go back to work. That is four highly skilled women now removed from the workforce because childcare in Australia is too complex and cost prohibitive. And this is just one small group – there are many more. If the government is honestly trying to address female participation rates in the Australian workforce and fix the skills shortage, they will look at childcare as a matter of urgency.” [Source]

    What do you think? What has your experience been? Leave your comments below …


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