How Australian Businesses Can Better Support Working Dads

Father And His Baby Daughter Grocery Shopping.

These days, working while raising children is increasingly common. According to the ABS Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation, 62% of coupled parents work, while 60% of single parents work. What’s more, 90% of dads with children under 15 are employed, meaning the vast majority of Australian fathers are juggling work and parenting commitments in tandem. Here are just some of the ways Australian businesses should be looking to create a supportive environment for working dads.

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Managing Your Career with Sick Kids

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As sure as night follows day, the first few years of parenthood, that no one really warns you about, is guaranteed to include dealing with endless days of sick kids whose germs often spread throughout the whole family, derailing everyone. New parents can find themselves feeling wiped out with worry and sleep deprivation.

Once your child is old enough to attend playgroups, start childcare or frequent other community places where children congregate, all sorts of infections seem to be waiting to pounce. And, no amount of vigilant, clean-freak parenting can avoid a bout of sickness at some time or another.

The question is, how do you deal with it when your child is sick, you’re juggling work and, just when it looks like your little one is recovering, you’re struck down with the lurgy?

This article was first featured on the Huffington Post Australia. To read the full article by our CEO Emma Walsh (including a personal account of she has managed with three kids over the years) tap here.

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More Than Just Family – Top Qualities of The Workplaces Where People Take Care of Each Other

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The workplace of the future  starts with how we treat ourselves – first and foremost.

Before we can truly nurture our children, love our partners, care for our colleagues and friends we must first give all of these things to ourselves. For if we do not, we have no real marker for the quality of care we are offering; what we are delivering to others would only be an nth of a degree of what the potential could be.

Think about it like this… if our energy or love for self is only half full we only have a half full glass to offer others. What if we honoured and cared for ourselves in such a way that it left us feeling vibrant, joyful and healthy – like, full vitality healthy. How would our caring for others compare to when we don’t look after ourselves like we know we could?

“It is a common belief that caring for yourself first is selfish, yet when done in truth, caring for self is one of the most selfless acts that one can do. Self-care is an essential ingredient in the caring process and greatly enriches the quality of care you are able to offer another. When we are living our full potential we can then truly support others to meet their potential.”  Tanya Curtis, Fabic Behavioural Specialist

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Meditation for Mums and Dads

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Is there such a thing? Well, yes and no. No in terms of meditation is meditation – a simple reconnection to your body or ‘union with your self’ as Katie Walls said in our recent special event webinar Meditation for Mums and Dads. Meditation places no biases or pre-requisites on us. It is a tool for everyone – whether you live on a mountain top in Nepal or you work in an office in the city, whether your 6 years old or 60 – you have access to this very simple and useful tool. It’s a yes because parents do have unique challenges when raising children of various ages and sometimes we need a little more insight into how we can care and support ourselves amongst the sometimes chaotic life of juggling work and caring responsibilities.

Our special guest Katie is a complimentary health and wellbeing practitioner who has a lot of experience working in busy HR roles in corporate companies whilst raising three children with her equally busy husband so knows the pressures modern parents face. Katie also runs the busy wellbeing clinic Gentle Rhythms in Sydney. With Katie we explored how to be with these challenges and pressures and still be able to feel like ourselves at the end of the day. Meditation was a key component of being able to do this. But the question many of us have as working parents is – where will I find the time?

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Working dads, working flexibly – How to create better work-life balance during the early years of fatherhood?

Adam 1

This month for Working Dads Connect (our regular online ‘men’s shed’) we interviewed Dr Adam Fraser – Human Performance Researcher and author of The Third Space.

To kick start the webinar our Parents At Work CEO called out some sobering statistics about the state of play for men today:

  • 1 in 5 men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives [Beyond Blue] and 1 in 3 men at any one time are living with a chronic health condition [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare]
  • Fathers with children under 15 years old spend an average of 13 hours a week on child care [Australian Institute of Family Studies]
  • Men are twice as likely as women to have requests for flexible work hours rejected [Bain and Co]

The question is – what’s going on for modern working dads? How and why are men struggling with and/or managing the balance with work and family life?

Our latest Working Dads Connect addressed some of these questions plus gave some great tips about having a successful career during the intensive fatherhood years. You can listen to the full webinar by tapping here for the free recording. In the meantime here are some of the highlights . . .

“I’m seeing a huge trend in men saying ‘I’m really struggling, I’m doing it hard – it’s like my world is in this pressure cooker and how do I fit in? Think about the business landscape at the moment – everything is changing. Leadership is no longer command and control – it’s collaborative… we’re having to wear more hats than ever. I’m wearing 30-40 hats”

“How do we show up to each moment as our best?”

“Do we give the transition to fatherhood the time needed that is required to properly prepare?”

“Often the conversation for job re-design or role for dads is not happening”

“Does what we do between work and home affect our balance?”

“All the strategies revolved around time which is no longer relevant because there’s no barriers between work and home.”

“How much flexibility are we willing to have? It’s normally about the practicals – like a fixed arrangement to ‘buy’ flexibility as opposed to having a flexible mindset.

“The way some people are describing flexibly in their mind is quite inflexible”.

“Me-time is essential. Men are far better at this than women. They have far, far less guilt than women.”

“Negative spill – I have a crap day and take it home which creates more stress which I carry to work the next day. The third space is like a circuit breaker… it can massively reduce stress in the home.”

“The Third Space is that moment of transition between one role or task to the next role or task…what we do in this transitional gap has a huge impact on our happiness, performance and balance.”

“If you come home and you’re a rock star – engaged, interactive, helpful, empathetic – the family don’t resent work as much.”

“If you’re going to do work, do work. If you’re going to be with the family, be with the family.”

“Flexibility can be overdone – where you spread yourself too thin, trying to do too much at once.”

“Focus on outcomes and your deliverables… get away from ‘I’m at my desk for so long so I must be working hard. Look at where is my time best spent?”

Adam’s strategies for supporting yourself in the work to home transition:

  1. Reflect – how do we reflect on the day. Most people reflect on everything that was bad which puts them in a really negative headspace. Instead ask: what did I do well today? Focus on progress and evolution
  1. Rest – do something that makes you feel still and present.
  1. Reset – Ask yourself what your intention is. How do I want to walk through this door?

For the full recording of the Working Dads Connect (May) tap here. To get a copy of Adam’s book visit The Third Space.

Would you like to join us for the next Working Dad’s Connect session in July

We have Alex Laguna from Better Dads and Samuel Eddy, counsellor and executive coach, exploring the topic: Being the Modern Dad: Keeping your relationships alive as you raise your family & manage a busy career (tap here for the full outline and registration link).

About Working Dads Connect 

A new ‘men’s shed’ for working dads

Parents At Work have a brand new bi-monthly webinar especially for working dads.

Working Dads Connect (WDC) is a bit like an online style ‘men’s shed’.

Every second month we invite an inspiring dad and/or expert in the area of work-life balance to join our experienced coach to delve into the tricky questions working dads want answered.

Designed for dads to share their story, ask questions or simply dial in confidentially on listen-only mode. Let’s get real with the issues modern dads face.

This is a free online webinar open to all so please feel free to invite anyone you think may be interested!

WDC Long Tile

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The Effects of Technology on Kids and How to Avoid the Techno Tantrums

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We all know what it’s like to get hooked on a T.V. show or a Facebook feed or an email to do list. It’s the plight of the modern man – the desire to be in the digital world versus the real world. A recent study highlighted how grown adults will choose an electric shock when sitting alone doing nothing for 15 minutes – a reflection of how reliant we are on being stimulated from the outside.

Now consider our children. Children aged 6 this year are the first to have grown up with the iPad their whole life (the iPad turned 7 this year). As our latest webinar special guest Dr Kristy Goodwin points out this may be why teachers have seen a significant increase in the number of learning difficulties such as higher rates of short-sightedness, socialization difficulties, poor fine motor skills, short attention spans… and the list goes on.

Dr Goodwin pointed out that screen time literally bombards their nervous system – this is one reason for the techno tantrum but also why kids find it hard to go from the screen to the dinner table. Eating is predominantly a sensory activity but if their nervous system and sensory system has been overloaded with screen use it’s hard for them to sit down to eat. One suggestion she had was to get them to do something physically active post screen time, especially before sitting down eat – like going for a walk, setting the table, giving them something to touch – something to calm them down to help re-calibrate their brain (and entire body for that matter). Time in nature is good – green time vs screen time. Emerging research of nature time shows that it helps slows the brain down.

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How to Unlock the Learning Potential of Your Child

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We all want our children to be at ease in themselves – the adult that is capable, responsible, warm-hearted and, most importantly, genuinely enjoys being themselves. The question is, how do we support our child to have this foundation within themselves, particularly if they find learning difficult?

This week we interviewed integrative child psychotherapist Vanessa McHardy on this very question – how do we unlock the learning potential of our children? We know this is a pressing issue for parents as this event booked out within 48 hours of promoting it.

Vanessa gave us some wonderful examples of the work she has done with children– including her own – and what’s behind some of the challenging behaviours and insecurities that play out.

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Why do a working families survey?

Happy family

Working families are the backbone of our community and our economy in Australia.  Parents At Work felt very strongly about the need to tell the story of working parents.  Specifically what happens at the intersection of work and family.  However their story is not being told in its full glory.  Working families are traditionally an under reported segment of our community.  There is data on specific elements that impact working families like work force participation, child care usage, broad demographic data, marriage, birth and divorce insights, but nothing easily accessible that combines all of these elements.

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7 tips for working parents when experiencing “one of those days”

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I was shuffling my kids into the car one morning when I heard two crying children (not mine!!) and looked up to see a very hassled neighbour looking like he wanted to pull his hair out. I gave him a wave and a smile and asked “Having fun?” in an attempt to put a sense of humour into his clearly challenging morning. He was also doing the day care drop-off and it wasn’t going as smoothly as he would have liked. He responded to me with a roll of the eyes and declared “It’s one of those days!”.

I hear “It’s one of those days!”a lot

I fully appreciated his situation, not that there was anything I could do to help at that moment. I realised then that I hear this phrase so often, including from my coaching clients. Often at the start of a coaching session, I do hear that they feel like a failure today, or they considered postponing as they don’t have enough hours in the day, or they feel like they’re chasing their tale and need every spare minute. To their credit, they prioritised themselves and did not postpone, which will turn out to be the best decision they made all day.

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Work-Life Balance for Working Dads – 9 Top Tips

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“Many men still feel they need to be the provider and gets them stuck in their roles… This is a universal challenge – how can we be a good dad and have a successful career?” Scott Behson

Working dads today are faced with unique challenges – as well as opportunities – that previous generations never had.  The pressures and expectations of what it means to be a modern father come from many angles – society encourages them to do more at home and workplaces (on the whole) haven’t changed a lot in terms of accepting men have caring responsibilities outside of work. Most women also have their own careers to build and therefore the caring and household duties need to be more equally shared, which changes the goal posts from men being the primary financial provider to so much more.

In our latest special event webinar Parents At Work interviewed Scott Behson – working dad advocate and US author of The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home. Scott talked about how the family unit and more equality in the home is changing for the better however there are still some big hurdles to overcome before many organisations catch up to the family role changes.

Despite the changes that still need to be made there is still much dads can do to help them manage a successful career and be a present, emotionally connected father.

9 top practical tips for how the working dads of today can achieve work-life balance

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