Many parents face the tough juggling act of raising a family whilst holding down a nine to five job. In the wake of the recent changes to shared parental leave, women who have taken maternity leave and men who have taken time off to care for their child face the dilemma of whether to return to work after their baby arrives, and whether they can pursue their business ambition and career alongside bringing up a child.
For some parents it is merely logistics, but for others it can be a life changing decision that will have a dramatic impact on both their finances and their emotions. They may worry about surviving on one salary or feel guilty about either leaving a child while they work or letting the bread-winning/child-rearing fall solely on the shoulders of a partner.
Some people may work for an employer who has prepared adequately for the impact their employee’s parental leave will have on their business, and if you’re fortunate enough to be one of them, then your employer should be able to give you the space and flexibility you need upon returning to the workplace. For others, it might not be as straightforward. If you work in a high-pressured environment or a dangerous job, or if your role involves a lot of international travel that takes you away from your family, then juggling a career and raising children may be fraught with anxiety.
The important thing is to try and find the right balance between work and spending time with your family, and that balance won’t be the same for everyone. If you have worries that your current role simply won’t allow you to achieve that balance, then trust your instincts – you’re probably right. For some it can mean accepting that fact and making plans to accommodate it. But it may be possible to make changes in your life so that you can create your own work-life balance.
Why not meet with your employer to discuss flexible hours, a shorter working week or day, or a complete role change? You are within your rights to ask these questions, and you never know until you try. However you need to know where you stand and as soon as possible, so don’t let an employer keep you dangling for months while they ponder. It’s important to realise that you are not alone, and there are many other families out there in the same boat.
Evaluating Your Options
You could look for a new role with more flexible hours or the option of working from home. Taking the plunge and setting up for your own business is daunting and often financially risky, but later down the line the benefits and change in lifestyle can be dramatic. Bear in mind though that starting a business half-heartedly is not advisable; you will also have to invest a lot of blood, sweat and tears into getting it off the ground and that might mean less free time to begin with. . So give yourself a reality check. Is the time right for you?
How do you balance your work life with family commitments? Did you make big changes to allow time for both parts of your life when you started a family? Tell us about it in the comments below.