Katie Bulmer-Cooke: Could employers offer more flexible working during school holidays?
I always look forward to the school holidays and getting to spend extra time with my little girl, but with the summer break comes a need to juggle and arrange childcare and as a working parent, often feel guilty.
In an ideal world, we would all spend every moment of the holidays with our kids and spend a summer making as many memories as possible.
But in the real world we still have to work, and often end up feeling guilty about the time spent away from our kids.
For me, being a parent is all about balancing guilt.
You’re either feeling guilty because you’re at work and not with your family or guilty because you’re taking time off from work and worry if everything will be OK while you’re away from your role.
I think this is especially true for us self-employed parents.
I’ve spent many an hour over-thinking both ends of the scale and trying to work out what the perfect solution is.
But after eight years I’m yet to discover the answer, which leads me to believe that there isn’t one, and that the bottom line is we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves either way.
This is easier said than done, but a good place to start is looking at the positives.
While parents are at work, kids are learning the valuable lesson of earning money that can be used for enjoyable days out and holidays, and in addition it’s always good for kids to spend time with friends and other family members.
My little girl has spent time at football training and sports camps while I’ve been working, and has absolutely loved it.
It’s developed her confidence and ability to make new friends too, so that’s got to be a positive.
There is always a tendency for us parents to question whether we are doing the right thing, but there is a also a fine line between this and being too hard on ourselves.
I’m no parenting expert by a long stretch, but ultimately if kids are happy and we aren’t stressing ourselves out too much, then surely we’ve achieved some level of balance and success as a parent?
Being self-employed, I have a degree of flexibility with my work, and I think in businesses where the nature and needs of the business allow, it would be great to see such flexibility offered to those who are employed.
For example, could parents work half days in the holidays and finish remaining tasks at home in the evening when their kids have gone to bed?
Or could they take time to work from home and fit work in around their children?
If I was the employer, I wouldn’t mind what time of day work was done, or where the work was completed, as long as it was done to the usual high standard and on time.
Flexible working would be a great solution for so many people, with employees and employers alike.
With two weeks remaining until the kids go back to school, let’s quit the guilt and make the most of it - and maybe even plant the seed of flexible working with employers, ready for the next school break.