The Struggle of the Juggle is Real - Supporting Parents at Work

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29 August 2019

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5 min read

Mental Health

Last night a panel of industry experts featuring Steve ‘The Commando’ Willis and Lucinda Brogden, Chair of the National Mental Health Commission among others explored the challenges of balancing parenting and career, the importance of supporting parents at work and shining the spotlight on dads.

Karitane Chief Executive Officer, Grainne O’Loughlin, said the “struggle of the juggle is very real, parenting can be stressful and with the added pressures of working, it can have a profound impact on the individual as a parent and also as an employee.”

In Australia 95% of primary parental leave is taken by mothers and 34% of women who leave work to have a baby don’t return. Less than 1 in 20 fathers take parental leave with the average length of time fathers take off work with the birth of their child being only 7.3 days. 1 in 5 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers experience postnatal depression or anxiety.

Lucinda Brogden, Chair of the National Mental Health Commission said “The number 1 topic to employee assistance services is parenting. The best investment in prevention of mental health is parenting; we need to invest in parenting support services.”

Supporting parents to better manage their work and parenting responsibilities assists with; improving retention, increasing diversity, improving productivity and building a family inclusive culture.

“We offer evidence based educational programs and practical strategies for everyday parenting delivered in flexible formats in the workplace. Everything from live webinars to lunch ’n’ learns on topics including sleep and settling, feeding and nutrition, toddler behaviour and tantrums, children and screen time to separation anxiety and transition. Supporting parents in your business today is realising their full potential and building the workplace of the future” said Grainne O’Loughlin.

Parents At Work CEO, Emma Walsh agrees and adds that it’s particularly critical we engage fathers as caregivers. “Traditionally, we have pigeon-holed men as ‘breadwinners’ and mothers as primary ‘caregivers’.  This has to change if we’re serious about achieving gender equality and improving the mental health in families.”

Steve ‘The Commando’ Willis shared how his journey of being a father has changed. “How I parented my first child (now 21 years old) to how I parent now is vastly different. I fathered how I thought fathers should be which was how my father fathered me. Because of the work I have done on myself, I’m a lot more aware, coming at it from a different perspective. I made the conscious decision to be present, I want to play a significant role in my children’s life.”

Karitane partnered with leading recruiters Moir Group and People Corp and supported by McGrathNicol to host over a 100 CEOs and HR Directors to hear from industry experts about the evolving role of being a dad, balancing family and career, supporting parents at work and mental health in the workplace.

Head of Talent Development from MinterEllison, Kate Cato shared the success of offering practical parenting support in the workplace. “We have 2,500 people and around 35% - 45% are parenting young children, it was clear to us we needed to support them. We wanted to ensure they could access great quality information and support when they needed it, so we designed a program with Karitane. We moved away from just supporting parents in the transition back to work (after parental leave) to providing ongoing support. Every parent needs access to Karitane the way our team at Minter Ellison do”.

Founder of The Fatherhood Luke Benedictus shared his experience of becoming a dad “We had two children in quick succession and my life quickly descended into slap stick chaos. It changed every aspect of my life, how I felt about my job, my relationship, everything, I didn’t expect that. When men get together we don’t connect as quickly as dads the way mums do, it’s a shame. We are all going through the same things but we go through them on our own, in isolation. When our boys were almost 2 years old and 6 months neither of them sleeping our GP suggested Karitane, we almost didn’t go but we were also desperate. What we found was a crack team of professional baby-whisperers who’ve navigated every childcare issue known to man. The experience changed our lives as parents, armed us with tactics, skills and strategies making us more confident and competent parents.”

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