A podcast that is people telling the story of their families and the diverse ways that they tackle the dual responsibilities of paid work and caring for children. We talk about what works and what doesn’t (for each individual family) and we think about what would improve each family’s work-life balance.
Episode 20: Katie
In Episode 20, we talk to Katie who has 4 primary school aged children and works as an art teacher. We talk about the realities of a 2 teacher family, learning to say no as an act of self care and which parent the school rings when a child is sick.
- Family of 6
- 1 parent working full-time
- 1 parent working part-time
- 4 school-aged children
1:45 How much sleep are you getting?
9:46 You handled a bad sleeper, let’s see what else you can handle
10:26 Away from family when having young children
10:50 Who are the members of your family?
11:20 Setting the mum bar high
12:00 Maybe we were really good when we growing up?
12:30 Paid workload
13:40 2 teachers, ideal or harder?
14:00 3 different schools
14:46 Kids schools hours are always shorter than parents hours
19:04 Parent teacher interviews with children and parent’s schools
16:12 Husband travelled for work when children young
17:04 Took more family-friendly teaching jobs
17:36 Kids not doing sport have too much energy
17:52 Parenting superpowers? – Death stares!
18:20 Saying no
20:30 Husband’s parenting superpowers?
21:26 The rock
22:00 Setting standards
22:22 Setting the standard when another parent is doing the leg work.
23:00 Standards slipping
24:10 What standards are achievable?
24:36 Expectations for parents these days
28:00 Children starting to get more freedom.
31:44 Having a day when you don’t need to rush off
33:155 Moving to Australia
33:44 Going back to work earlier than expected
34:05 The year of 3 drops offs
34:22 So much energy
35:10 Getting an ironing board into the car
36:22 Being able to get to own children's events in school hours
37:10 Husband encouraged to apply for high-level jobs
37:36 Women told to stay in their lane and not expect much career-wise
39:10 Go for the job!
41:00 Only half the population has to consider being away from your family more to work full time
41:42 Know my limits
42:40 What works well?
42:52 Husband working full time but can still do some pickups and dropoffs
43:28 Need to renegotiate hours every year
44:06 Found a decent balance now
:04 Maxed out
45:40 Crazy messy house
45:52 One-on-one time with kids
46:25 Most of the downsides relate to home life
47:00 Next steps
47:05 Eligible for long service leave soon
48:00 Would like husband to want to slow down and work less hours at some stage
48:12 Another career, won’t necessarily be teaching anymore
49:22 Being creative and being a parent
50:16 Doing art at school all day and kids then want to do art at home after school
51:00 Having a creative mindset 51:54 Birthday cakes are a blind spot in the creative department
52:40 Time and freedom to be creative is hard
54:54 Are your family responsibilities catered for?
54:26 Part-time grey zone
55:24 There are opportunities to negotiate
56:04 Working part-time as a teacher, can’t necessarily be 4 days a week
57:10 Don’t have the ability to rearrange your work day, need to be in front of the classroom
57:44 Husbands work environment
58:02 Expectation that mothers are required when kids are sick
58:44 Is the pressure on the husband more because he is a dad and working full time?
58:58 Full-time workers have a greater capacity to take a bit of time out during the working week
Episode 19: Abi
In Episode 19, we talk to Abi who has 2 primary school aged children and words 4 days a week. We talk about being open to different possibilities with childcare and sharing the load of school pick up and drop offs.
- Family of 4
- 1 parent working 4 days
- 1 parent working full-time
- 2 school-aged children
3:26 How much sleep
3:50 Who is in your family
4:18 Parenting superpowers
4:22 The organiser
4:50 Minister for social engagements
5:10 The online calendar
6:18 Child pick up appointment in work calendar
6:36 Calendar blocked out so meetings can't be scheduled
7:00 Husbands parenting superpowers
7:06 Fun, handy, practical
7:30 Challenges children more
8:30 Children and safety/risk
9:30 Feeling comfortable to say no
10:24 Children making you brave
10:56 Don't want them to see your fear
14:00 This is a bloomin small plane
15:08 How is childcare managed
15:30 School holidays
16:00 Have you been able to choose your path?
16:16 Fairly in control
16:26 Childcare availability brought things forward
16:50 Working 1 day a week initially
17:20 More flexibility once you are part of the childcare system
17:54 Been able to get the amount of care we needed
18:10 1 day a week was a bit weird
19:00 Building up days of work
21:04 What works well
21:12 Sharing pick ups and drop offs
21:28 Kids getting older and being more independent
22:38 Tight time budget at work
22:50 Not much wiggle room
23:56 Dump them at the school gate
25:12 Watching the clock and doing the minimum hours
26:30 Staying late then doing the after-hours activity pick up
28:08 Any other combinations?
28:44 Kindy hours
29:04 Shared pick up with a friend, each picking up both kids on one day while the other worked.
29:48 Later a paid arrange with same friend for a full day
30:10 Made the difference between doing kindy and doing childcare that year
31:10 Friend more flexible with hours than chilcare
31:40 Had arrangements for sick days
32:22 What worked best?
32:30 Childcare is so straightforward
34:54 Next step?
35:24 High School with no OSHC
35:42 Back to 2 different schools and no longer walking together
37:54 Are you families paid work environments supportive?
40:00 Value and support employees so they stick around
40:30 Funny or disasterous moments?
41:02 Travel/sleep/clock fail
44:42 Is family what you thought it would look like?
45:14 Parents on the same page with parenting
46:06 Any advice?
46:12 Be flexible, ask for help
46:30 Be aware of your workplace culture around flexible work
46:48 Be open to ideas
47:00 Don't be afraid to make changes
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Episode 18: Jo Part 2
In Episode 18, we have Part 2 of my interview with Jo who is balancing a high-level career and being a single parent to twin girls. We talk about the structure of organisations that do not work for employees or the company, how commitment and good work in the workplace is measured and the scope of Carers Leave.
- Family of 3
- 1 working parent (0.8)
- 2 school-aged children
- Grandparents providing after-school care
3:44 Do you feel like you have had a choice in your path?
4:00 Many contraints, very finely tuned and any small change will have a large impact
4:30 Financially really need to be working full time
4:40 Work 0.8 for sanity
5:20 Would love to work from home - to do full time hours or do school pick up
5:42 Work flexibility to do more work
6:00 Assumption is always that people looking for flexible work options are trying to do less work
6:28 Inflexible hours don't allow you to make up time
7:00 Working from home with sick kids would actually allow me to work more
7:48 Assess work on output not hours at work
8:08 Part time staff feel guilty and over deliver
8:18 Being present doesn't mean you are working
9:00 Rules or culture?
10:12 The advantages of offering flexible work
10:52 It's not doing less work, it's a better fit for the same work
11:00 Individualised work structures
12:12 Very hierarchical institution that has single point of failure built it
12:40 Actually puts individuals under more pressure because they can't be away on x day
13:18 Leadership potential but hard to break through to leadership
10:02 The funnel is blocked
14:20 Change the was we structure organisations
15:20 Mining companies with women in the executive teams make more money (Source: http://www.miningglobal.com/operations/study-mining-companies-need-more-women-board-room)
16:20 My work less about profit but all about return on investment and doing a good job
16:54 Sought out current employer due to robust EBA and strong focus on women's workforce participation
17:34 Referee who made a point of candidate being a single mother
18:40 Berated for not disclosing single parent status.....wonder why anyone would not disclose that!!
19:00 Why disclose and give them the opportunity to discriminate against me?
19:14 Always apply for full time roles and negotiate your way down
20:24 You do know this is a full time role?
21:22 Can a project based contract role be done differently - part-time over a longer time period.
22:00 Need to have the conversations to challenge and change mindsets
22:20 Why are we locked into this view about when an where work happens?
23:44 Sports person allowed time to participate in sporting events
24:48 Acceptable reasons for flexible work
25:52 Number of hours at work is not an indicator of work commitment, you could be at work full time and not give a toss about the workplace
26:34 The placenta switches off career ambitions doesn't it
27:06 The mummy bucket
28:08 Request to work full time but work from home 1 day. It was a NO.
29:28 If we give you work flexibility we would have to allow others to do so also (shock horror!)
30:10 We all become each others time keepers, pitting staff against each other
32:10 Carers Leave - only for emergency sickness and injury
32:56 There is caring of children we have to do that is not emergency related
33:10 Applied for Carers Leave for school holidays
34:34 Carers leave balance (12 days a year) would allow for more p...
Episode 17: Jo Part 1
In Episode 17, I interview Jo who is balancing a high-level career and being a single parent to twin girls. We talk about life as a single parent, the real cost of work travel for a parent, and the double-edged guilt sword of carer's leave.
- Family of 3
- 1 working parent (0.8)
- 2 school-aged children
- Grandparents providing after-school care
4:20 Focusing on children when they are awake
4:38 Buffer at the end of the day before sleep
5:02 Decompressing before sleep
7:18 Important things (like podcast interviews!) done after kids bedtime
7:51 Morning routines
8:16 Pocket money for getting ready on time in the morning
10:40 Rewards that can apply to just one child
11:12 Who are the people in your family
11:22 Single parent with twin 10-year-old daughters
11:40 Current workload - paid and unpaid
12:22 School drops offs
12:54 Grandparents cover school pickup and after-school activities
13:16 The 'good' kind of after-school activity
14:02 Autopilot pickup fails
14:46 Grandparent/grandchild relationship
16:19 Having other authority figures involved
17:00 Always have to be the bad cop, grandpa can be the good cop
18:14 Parenting superpower
18:16 Knowing my kids and what drives them
19:33 The 'hangry' child
20: 01 Sense of justice
20:50 Looking at things a different way
22:04 Not just doing everything really slowly
23:50 Can drive you mad but at the same time you don't want them to lose their childlike ways
24:04 Balance between developing a useful adult and breaking them
25:26 Being a twin mum requires you to be more task focused and not always enjoying the moment
26:38 Random supermarket twin mum encounter
27:42 Different stages with twins - separation, getting mobile
28:06 Twin mum a mothers group with mums of singles
30:10 What works well?
30:22 Children on the same page
31:50 Grandparents support
32:18 Side steps the 'management' of OSHC
33:02 Having a manager who has a single mum
33:39 The mummy button
33:52 Attending a work conference as a single parent
34:10 Travel allowance including childcare costs?
35:45 The real cost of work travel to a family
37:36 Is the extra load OK for partners and families
37:48 Be organised
38:36 What doesn't work well
38:44 Doesn't take much to throw things off kilter
39:28 The two types of guilt, maternal guilt and employee guilt
39:56 Employee guilt 'wins' often due to working 0.8
40:50 You don't get a medal either way
41:56 The difficulty of being the driver for change in a workplace
42:26 What is the next step for your family?
42:34 Working full time
42:30 Children looking at future employment options
43:56 Making children aware of finances and implications of choices
44:22 Entitlement in children
45:16 Entitlement in monetary and non-monetary terms
46:36 Pocket money for doing chores around the house?
47:12 That's what our family does
48:16 Life is an adventure
48:58 Is family life what you thought it would be?
50:18 Modelling healthy relationships to children problematic
52:12 Having twins
53:27 There are 2 heartbeats!
55:28 Wish people were more honest about life with a newborn
56:24 It is not all a nappy commercial
57:20 Different personality types deal with it better
58:08 Away from all family when having small babies
Episode 16: Workplace Flexibility
In this episode, I want to take a bit of a deeper look at one of the things that I think is really key for working families, and that is workplace flexibility.
There are several fronts where flexible work can make working parents lives easier. On a day to day level it can help parents work around school or pre-school operating hours, or work at a time of day that fits in with family responsibilities and allows for better productivity, allows for out of the ordinary appointments or events to be taken care of without a major hassle and also just make the dual responsibilities of work and family co-exist more harmoniously. Stepping back and taking a broader view, it can help parents of school-aged children work around the many many weeks of school holidays, help parents to feel less overloaded with responsibilities and allow parents to take a more active role in things like their children's sports team or activities.
More and more often I am seeing workplaces offer flexible work arrangements, and increasingly in job adverts, I am seeing flexibility listed as an attribute of the workplace and an option that will be available to the successful applicant. This is great to see and to very honest the more I see this the more chance I have of finding a job that I can give my best to!
But what we don't want to fall into is the trap of seeing flexible work as doing less, working less or achieving less. Overwhelmingly when people talk about flexibility at work, it is their work being assessed as a 'number of hours at work', When we focus on that aspect, it encourages a correlation between the number of hours worked and how 'good' an employee is. The more hours worked the more valuable the employee. Just think of the scenario of the last one to leave the office being praised by management, and the person leaving in time to do the school pickup being seen as 'slacking off' or 'taking advantage'.
This metric (which is known as presenteeism) means that when an employee arranges their days and weeks so they can get to school pick up or go to children's appointments or events, they are seen as achieving less, being less committed and therefore less valuable to the workplace. To look at it a different way, this metric means that employees who are seen as more valuable and are more likely to advance are going to be those that are not toeing the childcare line.....and statistically, we know that currently that is mostly men.
But a different metric to assess value is how productive we are, what we are achieving in our work and how effective we are in the time we do work. Research is showing that employees (both men and women) that are at work fewer hours have a greater sense of balance in their lives and a greater ability to look after all their life responsibilities. As a result, they are more content, more productive at work and easier to retain in the workplace.
Some suggest that in reality, people working 4 days get more done than those working 5 days, that fewer hours leads to higher efficiency and productivity within those hours as opposed to long passages of time that are easily wasted.
We all need to challenge our perception of flexible work as 'working less' and think of it more as 'a better fit for the same work'.
We need to view those working full-time hours but in a more flexible way as having the same value as those who work 9-5 in the office. Instead of part-time work being seen as a less productive 'cop out' option, it is time to get acquainted with the idea of the 'power part-timer' - a highly productive person who is sharply focused on their work and get's in, gets the job done and gets out - the model of ultimate efficiency.
We also need to challenge our perception of flexible work being only for women who have young children. When fathers negotiate work flexibility in their career,
Episode 15: Helena
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In this episode, I interview Helena who is about to complete 3 years of study to start a new career. She is a mother of twins and we talk about how that has influenced her path, the education system and working in a female-dominated industry.
- Family of 4
- 1 working parent (full time)
- 1 parent doing study and placements
- 2 school-aged children
1:46 Sleep on a scale of student to not student
2:30 Good sleepers
3:00 Who are the people in your family
3:16 Work travel and study
3:38 Mum and Dad close by
3:58 Studying full time and placements
4:50 Overnight help with children for shift work
5:40 No other students have kids so can be more flexible and can swap shifts
6:40 Watching study happening from a distance
7:18 Not a lot of belief in myself as a student
7:40 Education systems failing students
8:16 Valuing traditional subjects more highly, creative subjects ranked lower
8:50 Linking up students on the Autism spectrum and businesses that value those skills (The work I was talking about here is the Dandelion Program as talked about in this article and video https://itspmagazine.com/itsp-chronicles/cybersecurity-and-autism-the-values-are-obvious)
10:30 Schools not designed for good educational outcomes and life skills
12:12 Overvaluing university education
12:50 Don't all need to strive for the same thing
13:36 Parenting superpowers
14:20 Independence in children
14:50 Independence Day at school
16:38 Confidence and being out of your comfort zone
17:08 Going into situations with confidence
18:10 Not looking like the one who feels like they shouldn't be there
19:00 Raising a child with the kind of adult you are producing in mind
19:44 Looking for things beyond being 'mum'
20:10 Twin mum experience
20:58 Intense and compressed parenting of pre-school aged kids
21:10 Twins always have someone else to take new steps with
22:20 Parent of first child at school
23:18 Sending kids out with set instructions for acceptable behaviour
24:12 Husband's superpower
25:04 Mothers watching sons become parents
26:30 Men growing in the emotional intelligence department when becoming fathers
27:20 How are school drop offs and pick ups organised
28:08 Big effort from mum!
29:08 School holidays don't match up with uni holidays
29:42 Holiday at the grandparents!
30:04 OSHC cost prohibitive on one income
30:50 School holidays are hard work!
31:46 Swap kids with other parents
32:04 School activities that work for all ages/genders
33:26 After school activities
34:02 Spending a whole day at kid sports
34:24 Do you have a choice in your path?
34:44 Uni hours not flexible
35:30 Flexibility to contribute to own rosters
36:08 University study was a choice you could make
36:58 If I am doing this study then we are REALLY doing this
37:50 We are all in this
38:22 Adjustment of going back into work for men and women
39:38 Wife buffer
40:20 Doing study that costs money and not bringing in any money
41:44 Achieve more when on placement and I have less time
42:44 Not spending time with the children
43:04 Bigger picture looks better once study has finished and at work
44:12 Shift work and night shift means more tiredness
44:20 Next step for family?
44:46 Working, a new unknown environment, transitioning to doing instead of learning