We know that parents face a unique set of challenges in the workplace. Led by our Wellbeing Concierge, Leora, COMPASS has started a “Parents and carers coffee morning”, designed so that team members with children or caring responsibilities can connect with each other and get support.
We spoke to some members of the team to find out how they navigate parenting with working full or part-time, and what helps them succeed.
I’ve had to learn not to be hard on myself for not spending as much time with my son as I would like to.
How do you balance parenting alongside your role at COMPASS?
Anais: There are a lot of logistics involved in being a working parent. For instance, I block out my calendar at the end of every day to ensure I’m on time to pick up my baby from the childminder. I prioritise ruthlessly and relax on personal obligations – no one cares if I don’t iron my clothes! Then there’s the emotional side of being a working parent – I find myself juggling three strong emotions: immense and unconditional love, guilt, and frustration. COMPASS’s Wellbeing Concierge, Leora, was instrumental in helping me deal with them. Otherwise, taking more care of myself and going back to the gym made a huge, positive difference.
Gina: I have a two-year old and three-year old, so working with them at home isn’t really an option – but deciding where to send them for care was not easy. We wanted a balance of a learning environment but also a homely setting, so after viewing many, many places, we opted for a childminder.
Joanna: Childcare, childcare, childcare. Using a childcare provider who I trust is so important to me. When I walk in the door to my lovely silent house after dropping my son at nursery, I am in work mode. That doesn’t mean I won’t talk about him or think about him but having him somewhere I know he is safe and with people who are loving and caring means I can focus on work. I’ve had to learn not to be hard on myself for not spending as much time with my son as I would like to.
John: My children are 15, 13 and 9 – being a bit older, they’re a little more self-sufficient, which makes things easier. Being able to work from home and work flexible hours is really helpful, and most importantly I know exactly what I’m accountable for in my role and can manage my time in a way that suits me. I can schedule my diary to ensure I’m able to do the school run, and my colleagues know I’ll always pick up anything urgent that comes up later.
What do you think companies can do to support working parents?
Esmeralda: I personally think companies should give the option of remote working and planning your own working hours. Flexibility gives you have peace of mind which helps you focus more and so increases productivity. Some parents find it easier to work early in the morning or late at night when kids are in bed.
Anais: For me it’s important to have a safe community at work to share tips, joys and difficulties, so I’ve found the new “Parents coffee morning” initiative really valuable. I think companies should make working parents visible and share real life stories – so that we can share what is such an important part of our lives. Then there’s the obvious things: be flexible and hold some social events in the morning or at lunchtime, so that parents can join (and bring their children). Companies should offer solutions for emergency childcare: dedicated “sick leave allowance for children”, so that working parents don’t have to use annual leave or sick leave when their children are ill. Also, new parents returning to work often struggle with confidence and could be offered coaching.
Joanna: Just what COMPASS does I think – be understanding and flexible. If you need to collect your child because they’re ill or to take them to an appointment there should be no judgement.
Do you have any advice for others in similar situations?
Anais: Learn to go with the flow, and try to see the positive side of any situation. And find interesting podcasts, they’ve been a life-saver for me!
Esmeralda: I really recommend planning your day ahead. Planning out time to focus on work helps me feel more relaxed and more productive.
Gina: It can often feel like you aren’t doing enough at home, work, life … YOU ARE ENOUGH! There are no awards in life, do what you need to do to get by in the least stressful way you can. You’ve got this!
Joanna: Be kind to yourself, you’re doing better than you think. And whether you spend every day with your children or just weekends, you’re always their parent and they will love you just as much.
John: Know what you’re accountable for in your role at work, and find ways to recharge and come back refreshed. For instance, I tend to start work early in the morning and then do the school run – I often find this gives me a chance to process things at work, making me more productive for the rest of the day.