I am regularly reminded how much young working couples with children need family support systems. Even with the new more flexible work arrangements and the ability to work from home occasionally or on a permanent basis, working parents need help from time to time.
We have four young working parents in our family. They balance the demands of their jobs and raising young children. That’s my two daughters and our sons-in-law or as my husband called them on Father’s Day, “active duty dads”. And he of course is an “active duty grandpa” when needed.
My oldest daughter is a nurse practitioner who works three 12 hour shifts a week and a fourth shift one week a month. She has an hour plus drive each way to the hospital. She leaves the house before her 1-year-old and 2-year-old children are awake. She gets home in time for bath and bedtime stories.
On the days she works, my son-in-law gets the children up, dressed, fed and off to the day care center. He is a senior loan officer at a mortgage company with an office in downtown Boston. He takes the train in and out and works from home a few days a week.
My youngest daughter is the communications manager for a national company that has an international parent company. She lives in Rhode Island and works from home full-time. Her primary contacts are on the west coast; she also regularly deals with international calls. So, her work is at times in the evening after her children are in bed.
Her husband is a senior manager in global brand marketing and goes to the office every day. She does day care drop off and he does pickup for their 2-year-old and 4-year-old children. They both do several business trips during the year anywhere between 3 and 7 days long, including international travel.
My husband and I decided to move back to the New England area from Michigan in early 2016. A key driver was a desire to live near our growing family and spend more time with them. From their perspective, it meant we could see each other more often, have more fun together, and help one another out.
We have taken care of our grandkids so their parents can have “date nights” and had weekend sleepovers so the parents can get away for a day or two. My husband has helped with day care pickup and dinner, and helped when one of the children are sick and can’t go to daycare. And they have done dog sitting for us when we’re out of town. Not to mention all the times we just get together to have fun.
My oldest daughter and her husband are fortunate to live only 10 minutes away from his parents so they have a family support system beyond us. We live about 50 minutes away depending on traffic so it’s hard to respond to a last-minute child care need.
My youngest daughter and her husband lived in Los Angeles until her oldest child was almost 3 years old with no family support system. Her husband’s parents are in Florida and we are now just 20 minutes away, close enough to respond to last minute needs and help more often.
As I said in a previous post on balancing career and family, if you manage parents with young children, be patient and flexible. Doctor appointments, sick kids, and unpredictable daycare situations are a reality that young parents deal with. You need to establish a family friendly environment if you want to attract and retain talent. And remember, not all young parents have family support systems nearby to lend a hand.