Balancing work and family
It's hardly surprising that there is more talk today about balancing work and family than ever before - studies show that Kiwis work longer hours than many other countries.
The number of people working more than 50 hours per week is also rising.
Approximately 40 percent of workers are at work before 8.00am while 25 percent work during the evenings. As a consequence many parents today are finding they just aren't able to devote the time they want to their children and themselves. For the sole parent, the pressure can be even greater. But it is not just a matter of the 'time squeeze'. Tiredness, frustrations with work colleagues and bosses, demanding clients and customers, and all the other pressures of work can mean that the working parent comes home feeling very tired and stressed. Such stress interferes with family life.
So what can be done? First, don't give up and say you are powerless. Don't leave it to others. Assume responsibility for making changes. In fact, if you are reading this page you have already taken the first step. Talking to others is also a great way to gather needed information on how to make some changes. It is not only the individual worker who suffers when the right balance is not achieved. Imbalance affects partners and, above all, the children. Because it is a family matter, it needs to be discussed with all family members.
Work and the sole parent
The sole parent in paid work faces greater difficulty in balancing work and family commitments. In many cases there is no partner or other adult to assist. In some cases relations with the separated parents are hostile and bitter with little chance of cooperative effort. Shared parenting can be a very useful way of balancing the pressures. For example, a couple who share the parenting on a weekly or fortnightly rotation found that they could adjust the work commitments on the same rotation. Their respective employers had the situation explained to them and were happy to cooperate.
Two other sole mothers found many positive spin-offs in renting a larger house to accommodate both their families. Once in residence they were able to provide on site adult support to each other. Involving extended family members, such as grandparents, in continuing child care arrangements can be a positive option also. Custody disputes create special problems for the working sole parent. The demands of the job can, on occasion, be seized upon by the other parent as evidence of a failure to provide adequate care. It is in such situations that the working parent needs to discuss with their employer options such as part time work, re-assigned responsibilities and duties, or even a career break.
- Discuss the situation with others
- Taking stock
- Sharing the load
- Talk with your employer
- Family friendly workplace
- The BBC provides practical information and advice based upon the UK experience
- Depart of Labour - a New Zealand Department of Labour site full of information and tips
- NZ CTU - a New Zealand site providing a lot of information from the union perspective