Fatherhood and Family – striving for a new normal

As we approach Father’s Day in the UK, what can dads do to fight for more flexible working post-pandemic?



As we approach Father’s Day here in the UK, there seems to be a light at the end of the Covid 19 tunnel… Many of the lockdown measures are being lifted. As I write this, the news is full of stories of Primark queues to rival the reopening of McDonalds and Ikea!

Although lockdown is easing, I don’t think many would say that Covid 19 is anywhere close to being behind us. The implications on schools, airlines and entertainment venues of social distancing are likely to be with us for months and months.

Over the last 3 months, amongst the economic shock of lockdown and the turmoil of home-schooling, a new normal had been emerging.

A normal that was represented by many dads seizing the opportunity to be more involved and present with their children. Freed of the burden of commuting and business travel these men have been able to do much more in terms of childcare and domestic chores.

My clients tell me what they want is to be the active and involved father they don’t remember growing up. Seeking to solve the challenge of “how to be a great dad and have a great career.”

“I’ve loved being able to work from home full time…we have a six month old now so I get to see him during the day a bit, feed him lunch, always have bath time at 5.30pm… it’s been a positive in an otherwise pretty weird / horrid time.”

Survey results from Daddilife and the Institute of Fiscal Studies showed that as a result of lockdown men are doing more childcare and domestic work than ever before.

The world of work is waking up to the fact that remote and flexible work are entirely plausible alternatives to an office-based culture that has been increasingly out of step with the desire and aspirations of many workers. The desire of working dads is clear

When asked in the Daddilife survey what they would think of changing post- lockdown, “our dads put spending more quality time with family (32%) first, followed by more flexible (25%) and remote (19%) working.”
Given that flexible and remote working is often associated as something only women need or want, on the face of it, changing attitudes by men towards flexible work and increases in domestic labour is a powerful good news story.

Sadly it’s not as clear cut as that…

While men are undoubtedly doing more domestic labour, it’s not enough to close the gap which already existed. (see this NY Times article).

While I agree with Sonya Krutikova of the Institute for Fiscal Studies who said “Fathers, on average, are doing nearly double the hours of childcare they were doing prior to the crisis (and) this may bring about changes in the attitudes of fathers, mothers, children and employers about the role of fathers”, the short-term challenge is enormous.

With workplaces opening up while childcare, school provision and access to grandparents are still incredibly limited, families are likely to be put under enormous pressure to try and balance work and family and it will be much worse for single parents. Sadly the burden of childcare is more likely to fall on women.

“MrsFogi” posting on Mumsnet summed up the challenge for equality “I have a friend who firm is going back in two weeks – all the men have said they will be in, all the women have asked to continue working from home. They’ll be allowed to, but I think that says it all about where the burden will fall and who will the opportunities for promotion etc over the coming months”.

While Pregnant then Screwed discovered that “57% of working mums think childcare in Covid -19 has hurt their career.”

This Father’s Day I urge dads in the workplace to stand up for family and fight for the benefits that flexible and remote work has brought them. We all have a massive opportunity to maintain the new normal – it’s a goal that’s worth focusing on!

If you need some help achieving your goals head to www.inspiringdads.co.uk where you can pick up your free PDF download – “5 Reasons Your Goals Fail – and what you need to do about it”

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