It has been revealed that stay-at-home dad’s has more than doubled in the past year meaning that couples have decided that the mother will be the main breadwinner. Aviva insurers carried out the research which suggested that men performing the role of “primary parent” has risen to 1.4 million this year compared to 600,000 last year.
It doesn’t surprise me at all and there are a few obvious reasons as to why dad’s are taking on this role. Financial factors are thought to be a major factor and with the shift in the economy, the decision can be based on which parent earns the most money. I can identify with this scenario as the same happened to myself and my husband. Back in 2009 when I was due to return to work from maternity leave, my husband lost his job. It made sense that I returned full time whilst he looked after the children and stepped back and rethink what he would do. A tricky transition at the time but in hindsight was the best decision we made.
I was listening to Radio 2 just this week and a few stay-at-home dad’s were being interviewed. The outcome of each dad interviewed was mostly based on financial matters – losing their job, wife earning more and a complete career change. Amongst these dad’s a few were conscious decision’s to stay at home whilst others had not envisaged such a role and to support the family, the decision was made. It was interesting to hear that in the end they all realised what a positive solution being a stay-at-home dad was. Their families were better balanced and happy, career opportunities had been created for some dad’s whilst being at home which overall provided satisfaction. Also, the realisation that the early years where vitally important and being at home presented itself as a privilege.
Of course there are some negative outcome’s from the research and interviewed. Nearly one in five felt they “were less of a man” and one in seven wished they could find a jobs which would pay more than their partner so they could get back to work. Not all negative may I add, in that most dad’s felt comfortable in their role and within their family unit had collectively decided that this was the way life would be and it was their best solution.
I think the reasons overall for stay-at-home dad’s will be varied and will certainly rise more over the years. We are experiencing such a transition in our society and economy that new working patterns and needs are being shaped further, whereby it will be more familiar that men become the “primary parent”.
There have been rumours surfacing that the government are planning to scale back maternity and paternity leave to encourage more of a business friendly agenda.
A government commissioned report which is supposedly suggesting a reduction in maternity leave and the reversal of plans for shared parental leave which is due to be rolled out in 2015. This report was compiled by Venture Capitalist – Adrian Beecroft who was commissioned by Cameron to assess how to reduce policies which are a burden on businesses.
This has created tension from within the coalition as this policy goes against the views of the Lib Dem’s. Family friendly policies are key to what they have been promoting so this u-turn may come as a surprise.
Senior members of the Lib Dem’s appear confused by the report as it was only last year that Cameron was campaigning that they were the “most” family-friendly government.
Equalities Minister – Lynne Featherstone launched an attack against the report ‘These are hideous suggestions …..what I would say about them is that it would be absolutely extraordinary if we were to abandon our commitment to these flagship policies’
We will see how true the report will turn out to be, but with the number of female votes turning away from the current government party at the moment the timing couldn’t be worse for Cameron and his colleagues.
As a working mum, I can probably speak for most in that we all require a degree of flexibility in our jobs. Some mums have extra help and childcare covered off so they can concentrate on their career whilst quite a high proportion are seeking a job with less hours and flexible arrangements to enable them to help “balance” their family life.
I feel that even though as an economy we are facing tough times, organisations are becoming more aware of flexible work arrangements and there is evidence that some are reviewing their policies to reflect these changes. Businesses are coming round to the idea of flexible workers for many reasons. They can hire from a talented pool of experienced and skilled women who are eager to offer commitment and hard work for their own reasons. This can give companies stability and the input they need to grow and develop their business. Flexible workers are not as costly as full time employees and having worked like this myself previously they can often be far more productive. In addition to this, flexible employees don’t have to be permanent or fixed, they could provide a high quality project and short term stints of work as and when businesses need it.
So how do you find flexible jobs?
Well, there are some specialist recruitment companies who are dedicated to working with family friendly organisations. They offer a range of jobs across a wide spectrum, from permanent, temp, franchising, home-working and voluntary. These are a great route to see what is happening in the market place -jobs4mothers,womenlikeus and working mums
In some situations these companies may not be even reaching out to all the flexible workers which are on offer in the market. A really good place to start if you are looking close to home is your local market. If you are set on being local to home then it is worth applying to businesses “direct”. Obviously blanketing the area with your CV isn’t the best idea, however doing your research and understanding which businesses are operating in the area is.
Try researching through local papers, contacts, newsletters, adverts etc to identify a pattern of businesses which are expanding, growing or renovating. If a business has a stable headcount and product you could tailor a letter to them highlighting your skills/experience and suggesting some options of flexibility which they may potentially consider. This could be to offer one off project work, term time (school hours) or even voluntary hours per week. It shows initiative and gives you a place to demonstrate your worth. It can’t do any harm and in some cases companies need some extra help here and there but they haven’t a clue as to how to go about it. The other positive about direct applying is you are using this as a test exercise to brush up on some skills and most of all your confidence if you haven’t worked for a number of years.
If you are feeling really confident and proactive you could search/apply for jobs where they are advertised as full-time and within the recruitment process suggest flexibility if this is amongst your offering. I definitely would not suggest going through an interview and making flexibility your sole objective as this could backfire, however if you apply with a view to discussing flexible options within the role on offer it could certainly work in your favour. For example – start early and leave later, work four days in the office and the fifth day at home. One week of fixed full time hours and the next more flexible etc. They will work if the nature of the job/business allows. It is certainly worth exploring only if you are presenting some logical and viable solutions to the employer. They can only say no, or even after a period of time agree to review the working hours and tailor the jobs to be more flexible.