Challenges faced by return to work parents

Common challenges faced by mum and dad returners

The stress of returning to work following looking after children is now something that is increasingly shared by both mums and dads. The 20 years up to 2015 showed that there were 1 million fewer mums staying at home whilst during the same period the number of dads doing the “mum-thing” doubled to over 250,000.

Challenges faced by this group

As if you needed reminding, here are some of the hurdles faced by working parents:

  1. Childcare costs – Financially, returning to work after maternity or paternity leave just doesn’t make sense for the average family. In a recent study, it was reported that the UK has the highest childcare costs of any country apart from Switzerland. This is pretty much summed up with the following:”Affordable childcare and flexibility are clearly the big issues. Giving women the right tools. I think we need to embrace working from home. Childcare costs too can cripple households. There’s a lot of women who are working literally for nothing by the time they’ve paid for childcare.” (The Guardian 2017)
  2. Everything at work will change – Not only do former at-home parents land like real-life Rip van Winkles in a strange new world of technology, team dynamics, office fashion and water-cooler talk at the office, but they must simultaneously renegotiate their relationships at home, with spouses and kids. They usually take a big cut in job status and pay, while facing pressure at work to prove themselves all over again.
  3. A salary-hit – A cut in pay and status usually comes with the turf. In general, skilled women who drop out of the workforce for three or more years earn an average 37% less after returning, compared with those who didn’t take career breaks.
  4. The whole family will be affected – The transition can hit spouses hard. Erika Grinius, who returned to work as a marketing manager in 2008 after five years spent mostly at home with her daughter, now 7, says her husband, a college professor, has had to re-shuffle his research and writing time to do more child care. Many of the parents also worried about how the change would affect their children.
  5. Overqualified and under-utilised – Research shows that women returning to work as new mothers are likely to take jobs they are overqualified for and underutilised in because low occupational, low paid areas offer the best deal in terms of part time and flexible work. The result is a talented pool of women flung rungs beneath their career ladder capability.
  6. The need to find flexible working – A blog summed the conundrum up neatly with this line: “I like to work, I like what I do, but I just want to be able to do less of it — to work less than full-time.” According to a survey by WorkingMums.co.uk 90% said they struggled to find flexible work and 83% felt it was hard to find flexible jobs which used their skills.