This unofficial holiday, observed annually on September 16th, has been designated to pay tribute to those parents who work everyday, in or out of the home, to provide a healthy and safe life for their families. Recognizing that you may be balancing a full-time job, child care, a home and a marriage or relationship, this day is a day of encouragement for you and/or your partner. You, who work incredibly hard in order to ensure that your children have food, clothing, shelter and education.
As more mothers have entered the U.S. workforce in the past several decades, the number of two parent families in which both parents work full time is at 46%. Now 70% of mothers with children under age 18 are in the labor force. And you don’t need me to tell you that the balancing act of work and family poses challenges for a majority of two parent and single parent families.
Working Parents Day honors the ability to be a loving parent while building a career and hopefully for your children to show their recognition and appreciation and take on some of the day-to-day household chores... to lighten your load on September 16th.
This is what you can do for yourself today: Take care of yourself, remember what I have said before, you are responsible for your own happiness. Be self-nurturing, focus on your nutrition, your exercise, do you need a hug? Do you need rest? If you are a working parent, and who isn’t... this is your day, express yourself. Affirm your worth, your personal capabilities; the challenges you have faced in achieving personal goals... the meaningful contributions you have made to your family and hopefully to the world.
Spend a part of the day with your family, no grocery shopping, no house cleaning and no “office” work. (You probably know that you could do your shopping in the evenings during the week or online - after the kids are asleep, same goes for the laundry)... Have a family project, de-clutter a messy room and take the cartons to the charity of your choice – as a family. Make a new recipe from ingredients you already have in the house – as a family. Explore your local library – as a family... go on a local photo safari... as a family. The more demanding your job, the higher the stress... decompress on Working Parents Day.
And speaking of meaningful contributions to the world…
What can you do to improve the lives of working parents and their families?
With our votes and our telephones, we can encourage our elected officials to acknowledge the important economical and advancement contributions made by American women and their partners. Paid parental leave, equal pay for women and childcare subsidies... should not require constant advocacy, it should be a part of the American way of life.
The cost of child care can be as much as $24k per year, the most expensive part of a family’s budget, forcing less privileged parents to turn to lower priced, unlicensed home operations or relying on family members to care for their children in the house, sacrificing their socialization, education and later school success... Childcare has become luxury.
Be Honest with Your Boss. Speak up. There is a difference between parents and non-parents in the workplace. Don’t try to act otherwise. For most of us, our children are our top priorities. Too many nights of working late or weekend assignments needs to be addressed before it happens.
Propose remote or flexible work arrangements, job-sharing, staggered hours... working parents need flexibility. As a parent you might need to take your child to a doctor's appointment, attend a school conference or work from home if your child is sick. “Today ’s leading organizations recognize and depend on effective work-life strategies to better help their employees balance the demands of family and work," said Rose Stanley, senior practice leader with World at Work, a nonprofit human resources association and compensation authority. Stanley added, "Successful employers are now building a culture that encourages workplace flexibility, paid and unpaid time off and health and wellness.”
I say “Brilliant!!” Programs designed to increase employee satisfaction, increase the ability to attract qualified and talented employees and still make money for the company. This is one company that will honor the millions of hard-working parents across America on Sept. 16 in celebration of Working Parents Day.
If you work for a larger corporation, consider starting a working parents support group. Connecting employees with others dealing with similar issues can help troubleshoot work-life struggles, alleviate some of the stress of being a working parent and become a consolidated voice for change.
Matt Schneider, co-founder of City Dads Group says starting a group may not be as hard as you think to pull together.
Talk to your Human Resources department to find out what you need to know about establishing a group in your office - before contacting other employees. Ask whether they’ll “sponsor” the group by providing a meeting space and cover the advertising costs for the group’s monthly meetings. Perhaps a company-wide email, post something in the break room or take advantage of your company’s intranet to post details for your fellow parents.
While it’s helpful to have a place to vent, a more meaningful goal here might be to affect change within the company and advocate for family-friendly policies. You can work with HR to advocate for family-friendly policies and workplace support for parents and other caregivers if you have a clear and concise plan to present.
All working parents agree that time is precious... Be present with your kids when you have the precious time to spend with them. After you get home from work, put your cell phone away, muted and don’t look at it until they are asleep. Play with them, listen to them, focus on them. Eat dinner together as a family. Discuss what is important to you, ask for your family’s support.
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