The Year of the Working Dad

Blogger Amy Downes reckons we’re at a moment in history and 2020 can be the Year of the Working Dad

Speedometer marked with years, needle is approaching 2020

 

How is childcare divided in your home?

My partner, a working dad, is incredibly supportive. He spends a lot of time with our two sons. He does much of the housework, he picks our eldest up from nursery on the way home from his job and he takes them both into the living room every evening so I can get some work done.

But, being a freelancer who works from home, I have more flexibility in my hours and that means the onus of looking after the boys generally falls on me. His job does not allow for the flexibility that mine does and, though I sulk about it quite a lot, I have accepted this is the way things are for us.

Sharing childcare equally

A new report from Working Families shows we’re not alone, nearly a third of parents share the childcare equally, which is great news! In the 1970’s, Dads spent less than 15 minutes a day with their children, the latest figures show they now spend 16 hours a week doing ‘unpaid care work.’

It’s clear there is a lot of good work being done… but it’s not yet enough. Because women are spending 26 hours a week on that ‘unpaid care work’ and, honestly, I think that figure is a little low!

‘Short paternity leave and long maternity leave—and the fact more mothers than fathers reduce their hours when they return to work—perpetuates the idea of mothers as carers and fathers as workers, often to the detriment of both,’ says the Working Families report.

So, in a world where most families require both parents to be earning to afford the cost of living, what if there was a solution that would improve the situation for both men and women?

What if we made 2020 the year of the Working Dad?

These figures prove that Dads are, rightly, wanting to spend more time with their children. Our husbands, boyfriends and partners are taking more of an active role in the home life and this should allow for a more balanced workplace.

Sadly, that isn’t necessarily the case. A survey by workingdads.co.uk last year showed 43% of fathers are feeling stressed by the constant battle to balance their workload with their family lives, as well as the stigma they face from their line managers when they request flexible working hours.

Editor of workingdads.co.uk James Millar recently spoke about how you can make a difference to your own personal situation: Applying for flexible working, or looking into going self-employed (that’s what I did!) are just some of the great pieces of advice from James.

But how can we pull together to make a difference to working parents as a whole? To improve not just our own situation, but our colleagues at the same company, fellow parents in our city and families across the UK?

How can we make 2020 the year society’s perception of working Dads is changed forever?

Normalise Working Dads – with the emphasis on ‘Dad’

The easiest stating point is to show support for any male colleagues who might benefit from flexibility in their hours. They need to feel that it’s okay for them to ask to leave early to take their son to the doctors, they need to feel that’s normal.

Here are some suggestions from me:

  • Speak about your experiences as often as you can. On social media, in the pub, with your family members. If you’ve got great flexibility at work, shout about it, if not, tell people how difficult that makes things for you. The more people we can encourage to support Dads in their workplace the better.
  • Let other working parents know how flexible working works for you. Sometimes people just aren’t sure what they can do to make things better. If you leave work at 3pm to do the school run and then do an extra hour in the evening – tell them, inspire them, let them know they could do that too.
  • Find out what measures your employer has in place to support parents. Campaign for improvements. And if they’re good at it, let everyone know! More and more companies are seeing the value in this, let yours lead the way.
  • Email your local MP about the Conservatives’ election promise to make paternity more accessible and flexible working ‘default’ for all jobs. Let’s make sure they stick to their word on this one and hold them to account if they don’t.

 

You can read more of Amy’s thoughts on flexible working and parenthood on her blog www.mumfullofdreams.com





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