Wednesday, July 25, 2012

mums@work in the press: Finding work and life balance impossible for mums

Busy mum Helen La Fontaine has to multi-task everyday with her daughters Skye and Tara. Picture: Jon Hargest Source: Herald Sun

SUPERMUMS are at breaking point as they struggle to combine work and family.

Some of the most pressured are the self-employed, who go back to work within a week of giving birth.

Most new mums with a job give themselves just six months at home with their babies before heading back to work. But most would stay home longer if they could afford it.

On the home front, women are still doing at least three-quarters of the housework, regardless of whether they have a paid job.

Working mums are also more likely than non-working mums to be rushed, tired and stressed.

Data from almost 6000 men and women, released this week by the Gillard Government, shows that half of mothers feel their health is worse after they have a baby.

But help is on the horizon: the study suggests the paid parental leave scheme will almost double eligibility for paid leave from 51 per cent to 95 per cent of women.

Emma Walsh, director of Mums at Work, said flexibility was the big unresolved issue for many workplaces.

"The organisations that get it right and provide proper flexibility for their workers will have a more loyal and productive workforce," she said.

"We still need to break down that mentality that you need to be at work at 8.30am and sit there until five."

Helen La Fontaine, founder of breastfeeding clothing line Top Secret Maternity - and mum of Tara, 7, and Skye, 6 - said reducing her expectations had allowed her to successfully combine work and family.

"I operate a one-woman business, which gives me the flexibility I need," she said.

"It means that I can get my work done, but when the school bell rings I am there to pick up my daughters."


MAKE sure you have realistic expectations

REVIEW your life and career plan and work out what’s important to you

ASK for help, divvy up household chores and give everyone some down time in the weekly calendar

ACCEPT that there might always be some imbalance and that’s OK - we are not superhuman

GET the basics right - sleep, eating, exercise, drinking water and smiling

FOCUS on what you can achieve and not what you can’t

MANAGE your time ruthlessly - don’t give it away. Get organised and use to-do lists

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Full-time mummy and family: how does that work?

May I introduce you to Michelle Cooper, National Manager, People & Performance for Peoplebank. Michelle is a working mum who works full-time and manages the work/life balance with her small son. Read how she makes it work for her.

I have been working for Peoplebank Australia Limited since 2001. My role of National Manager, People & Performance, means I am responsible for all people programs and HR support for our 6 interstate branches. We have approximately 220 employees and 3,000 contractors.

I consider myself very fortunate in that I absolutely love my job. The challenge this created was that I would lose track of time and be in the office into the evenings, and continue once I got home. So my role was very much more than a 38 hour week!

Now, I work in the office Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays, and I work from home on Thursdays and Fridays. On the days I am in the office, I leave at 4pm which allows me to spend some quality time with my 2.5 year son of an evening. I am so much more organised in planning my days, deliverables for the week, and I ensure my team know that I am available.

The experience of requesting a flexible work arrangement with my manager, the CEO of Peoplebank (Peter Acheson), was pleasantly surprising. I prepared my discussion thoroughly, called Peter before returning, put my needs across to him and reasons why. Peter’s response was 100% supportive. He didn’t mind how my days were structured, or where I performed my work, as long as I meet my deliverables. Without realising, we set a precedent for the company – as I was the first executive leadership team member, with direct reports, to work flexible hours and work from home.

The juggle? I truly believe every working mum would understand the complexities of juggling work and family. I am one of those mums that believed I could do everything and put myself last. My husband is also trying to start his own business which comes with its own challenges.

I have had to tweak my ‘juggle’ constantly, and I continue to do so.  However there are some non negotiables, for example:

·    No work meetings are scheduled beyond 4pm, and I am out of the office by 4.10pm

·    I am home of an evening to have dinner with the family and bath my son

·    I always spend one day of the weekend with my son – it’s our ‘mum-son’ day. We go for train rides, bowling, feed ducks, zoos etc

My husband and I aim for ‘date night’ once a month - which simply consists of dinner and a movie.

Michelle Cooper
National Manager, People & Performance

Published by mums@work, leading providers in family friendly flexible tools for employers, mums and dads

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Update on Paid Parental Leave for Fathers: Dad & Partner Pay

    The Federal Parliament has passed legislation that will provide two weeks paternity leave for new fathers. The Paid Parental Leave and Other Legislation Amendment (Dad and Partner Pay and Other Measures) Bill 2012 expands the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme, with Dad and Partner Pay - a dedicated payment to give dads and partners financial support to stay at home for two weeks with their new baby. The payment equates to two weeks on the minimum wage.
    This will be in effect from  1 January next year.

    The government department for Families released a statement saying:

    We understand that having a baby is a big moment in a family’s life, and we want both mum and dad to have support to take time off to bond with their new baby.

    We also know that having a baby puts financial strain on a family’s budget. That’s why we are making sure that mums and dads have access to financial support in those first important months of their baby’s life.

    With more assistance to take time off work when a new baby joins the family, dads will be able to support mums and be involved in the care of their baby right from the start.

    This is good for dads, it’s good for mums, and it helps give babies the best start in life.

    It will be available to full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract and self-employed workers who have worked at least 330 hours (just over one day a week) in 10 of the 13 months before the birth of their baby and who earnt $150,000 or less in the previous financial year.

    To receive Dad and Partner Pay a person must be on unpaid leave or not working for that period.

    A family will be able to receive Dad and Partner Pay either on its own or in addition to Paid Parental Leave or other family payments such as the Baby Bonus and Family Tax Benefit.

    Follow our blog as we do the digging for you and explore the pros and cons, comparing the Baby Bonus to Paid Parental Leave.

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