National Working Parents Day is celebrated on September 16th each year. Is one day enough? Hardly. But it’s still nice to have a dedicated day to recognize parents who perform their duties at work while simultaneously doing a good job raising their child(ren).
The Many Sacrifices of Working Parents
When people have kids, they often need to sacrifice sleep, alone/quiet time, privacy, social lives, hobbies, and more. This can be a lot to handle during maternity/paternity leave and for stay-at-home parents, but coupling parenthood with managing a career is doubly tricky.
Working parents need steady income to provide for their families, so they’re usually very motivated to perform at work. Promotions and bonuses can lead to more opportunities for those they love. But the “spiral of expectations” of being a dedicated employee and a devoted parent are sometimes in conflict and difficult to live up to.
Parenting & Working During a Worldwide Pandemic
The responsibilities of parenting can be challenging and time-consuming under normal circumstances. Now we’re dealing with a worldwide pandemic on top of everything else. That’s having a ripple effect in the daily lives of those of us who have children and are also trying to work.
When schools and daycares closed during the COVID-19 outbreak, parents felt the mounting pressure of providing full-time childcare during working hours. This meant constant distractions, resulting in working fewer hours or late into the night to make up for lost time while the kids were awake. Nearly 50% of parents report being unable to focus on work when their kids are home, and a majority struggle with providing education for their children.
The pandemic has certainly taken a toll on the careers of those with young children—particularly mothers. Women ages 25-44 are almost 3x more likely than men to not be working due to childcare demands.
Working moms spend 2x as much time as men caring for family members and managing household responsibilities. Since the onset of the pandemic, women report spending ~71.2 hours a week on household chores and caregiving, compared to men who report ~51.5 hours.
There’s no question working parents—especially working mothers—are the unsung heroes of the pandemic. If you’re a working parent, keep up the great work!
How to Celebrate Working Parents in Your Life
Here are a few ways we can recognize and help working parents:
- Give them a pat on the back. Tell them when they’re doing a great job.
- Take them out to a team lunch (or arrange for delivery if they’re working from home).
- Make sure parents know what HR resources are available to support them. You may also want to set up an online group for working parents to discuss the highs and lows of parenting while working full-time. This kind of peer support encourages an open dialogue, which is especially helpful when parents are feeling overwhelmed.
- Consider adding onsite childcare or rolling out a subsidized program to offer relief to parents.
- Employers can offer more flexible hours to support increased child care demands. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 86% of employers are considering this. Doctor appointments, recitals, and sporting events are part of hiring working parents; they should be able to make time for these things without fear of repercussions or stigma.
- Let them leave work early so they can enjoy a well-deserved break before jumping back into family demands, or conversely, some quality time with their children without being tied to work.
Please join us in celebrating all the working parents out there!