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time to be a parent | is there time?

One of the things I have really, really got into during this maternity leave is Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. So, I was really excited to hear the launch show of their parenting podcast this morning.

The podcast was launched by two parents who make a living out of being parents online. One of them was a lady called Anna Whitehouse, who many of you might know as Mother Pukka. She’s an instagram sensation and is currently fronting a campaign for better flexible working for mothers in particular called Flex Appeal.

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Reach for the stars ✨ poppet chops and smash a few glass ceilings on the way. (Or don't if you can't be arsed/ don't fancy it; but let the choice be there). We're off to @bbcscotland studios at 10am today to record a show about flexible/agile working and why it's not a 'nice to have' in business but a necessity if you want to retain talent (specifically female) in the workforce. I know there's folk who 'don't see how it can work, really'. But back in 1843 there were employers who fought hammer and tong against The Weekend (yes, Saturday and Sunday) and it was Sir Ian McKellan's Great Great Grandfather, Robert Lowes who fought the good fight to move from a six-day working week to five days. That's working out OK for us all. There's always a way forward if you can see that this benefits everyone; not just parents. It's about putting humans above business BUT for business benefit; it's as much about a young couple ending up engaged instead of disengaged as it is parents being able to get a spontaneous post-work shin cuddle from the sprog. From the 💰 side, take a 👀 at Lambeth Council who has saved £4.5million by ensuring only 60% of its staff is in the office at any one time. Then there's the 81% of managers* who saw increased productivity after flexible working was introduced. We're not talking about a massive revolution here, just evolution in a digital world that's ready and willing. Let's do more than talk about flex, baby 👶🏻 #flexappeal #parentingtheshitoutoflife #motherpukka **if you believe in an iota one the above please join our #flexappeal Flash Mob this Friday 24th Feb in Glasgow and Edinburgh. See previous posts for deets** 📷 @emilygrayphoto *source: @regus_uk

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Mother Pukka said one thing which really interested me. That she, previous to giving up her job and concentrating full time on her online career, only saw her preschool daughter for 10 minutes a day, and that now, she sees her for at least two hours a day.

Blimey, I thought. I imagine that’s so much better for her family, and for her own mental wellbeing! But is it actually a lot more time? Is two hours normal?

So, I asked a few of the working Bristol Parent readers the question – “how long do you spend with your children each average weekday, not including sleep time?”

From the answers, it seems that the average Bristol Parent working reader spends seven hours a weekday with their children. The most commonly given answer was two to three hours, but the average was taken up by those who spend eight or 12 hours with their kids. There were people who said none. There were people who said one. All the responders were women. For my part, when I’m working, it will average to about four hours a day.

So, how do we all feel about that? Are you surprised? Personally, I feel fine about it. My career is important to my mental health and sense of achievement, and the money is important to our household. I enjoy the time I spend with the kids and, although some of it could be classified as quiet CBeebies time, or cooking and wrangling them at once, it’s all part of family life.

I am a true believer that Bristol is a family-oriented place to live and work. I am pleased to see this average of seven hours of time with the children for our worker mums. And I shan’t be sad for anyone who said two to three hours, if it’s what they want, or if their family lives are fulfilled, although I sympathise deeply if it’s not what you want. I think our city’s employers, and employees, are doing good things to make flexible working work, or at least listening to what flexibility actually means to parents working within their industries. What do you think? What else could Bristol do to make the most of its workforce of mothers?

I’d love to know what you guys do for work and how you make your jobs fit in with family life. Do you feel that the time you spend with your children during the week is too little? Or too much?

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  1. This is such an interesting debate. I think, for me, it depends on what you do with that time. It’s such an important debate to have though. And I think 10 minutes a day with a child is certainly not enough – for parent OR child.

  2. I don’t think 2 hours is a massive amount. On normal days I’m with Belle from about 3.30pm to 10pm every day, so that’s 6.5 hours. We properly do things together too, even though she’s 14. She doesn’t really ever go and hang out in her bedroom. (Although sometimes I wouldn’t mind!)

  3. This is fascinating. When I worked, on my working days, I saw my son for 2 crammed hours after work, between bedtime. I’d then find, I spent evenings catching up, ordering food on-line, doing the washing. Before work, was variable, depending on when he got up. Often between 5 and 6 am. It all made for long tiring day, the quality of which wasn’t great. It is very personal, what equates to quality of life varies enormously, equally I think we get sucked into a less-quality without appreciating the fact. I think there could be more flexibility on behalf of employers.
    I gave up work, because it all got too much and I realised the time they are little is so short. Now I desperately miss using my skills. Good flexible work is hard to find.
    I think it gets harder when they get to school, 9-3 is actually fairly short, if you factor in travel. After school, there are spellings and reading and projects and playdates, the school have expectations of parents, you have expectations of yourself and that has to be juggled with employment.
    We need to keep having these conversations, encouraging employers.

    • Agreed – I do worry I’ll look back and wonder why I wasn’t with them every waking second. But, your first observation on quality time was spot on. Like most interactions with me – I’m best in medium length doses!

  4. I think in the world we live in it’s so hard to find a balance and a lot of homes require two parents working full time but I think the important thing is to find what works for you – I find working a release and time for myself but equally I love spending as much time with my kids as possible so working from home suits me but it may not suit others

    Laura x

    • I find any sort of writing to be a release, not just work, so I’m glad we’re thinking alike on that.

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