28 December 2012

Guest Post: Dilemmas Of Full-Time Employed Parents

We have a lovely guest post from Rob James today, a father of 4 girls! His topic of choice: Dilemmas of Full-Time Employed Parents!

There are many challenges involved in being a full-time employed parent. The most pressing of these challenges is how do you realistically juggle work and your children? For most parents, juggling the two means having to make sacrifices in key areas, and having to accept that you’re probably going to have to work out who can most afford to take time out of work between two partners. What are some of the main problems, then, for employed parents, and how can you try to makes things easier on yourself?

Work eats up a lot of time, especially when both parents have to commute, and can’t take children to school. There may also be a lot of work to complete in evenings, as well as training courses and conferences. In most cases, you don’t want to have to lose your competitive edge in the workplace, and don’t want to be seen as unreliable due to your children. Parents going back to work after long periods off as the result of maternity and paternity leave can find it particularly tough to readjust to the demands of a full-time schedule. The stress that results, and the time spent apart from children, can get demoralising very quickly.

There are some expensive options that can make it easier to handle both children and work. One of these options is to take a pay cut and work part time or flexible hours in order to have more time at home - obviously this isn’t going to appeal to most people, and especially when both parents need to work in order to support a household. Other options, like paying for childcare for young children, or even boarding school for older ones, is going to be a major drain on finances, and can mean that you spend very little time together as a family.

It’s possible to make working pressures a little easier by not completely dropping out of work or significantly reducing hours, but by arranging for more flexible shifts. Many companies will accept flexible hours if you need to work from home a few mornings a week - online communication and video calls means that you won’t miss out on important information, although this will depend on particular jobs. Ensuring that one parent is home a few days a week can also help, and can mean working regular weekend hours if children are in school.

Another option, and one that is commonly used in the UK, is to hire au pairs to help with children and around the house. Cheaper than hiring a nanny or other kinds of full-time childcare, an au pair is typically a young person aged 18-28 from overseas. Au pairs live with you while completing a language course, or just live in the UK for an extended period of time to get experience of the country. Lengths of stay can range up to 18 months - you provide bed and board, and a small amount of spending money.

In exchange, au pairs help out with your children. Duties can include taking them to and fro school, making basic meals, and helping out with the cleaning. Au pairs are expected to have a lot of time to themselves, and shouldn’t be seen as full-time employees. They also shouldn’t be expected to carry out heavy duty cleaning or repairs around the house, and shouldn’t be left with very young children and babies. Ideally, an au pair will be a trusted person in the house that can make the difference between working full-time, and having to make salary cuts and difficult career choices.

Rob is a father to four girls and recommends Au Pair UK based company AuPair In Britain when looking for a live in nanny.  In his spare time (when he gets some), he can be found blogging about the different aspects of family life, from birthday parties, dealing with fights, and organising family time together.

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