Episode 13: Podcast Day

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September 30 is International Podcast Day! To celebrate the occasion I have created a special Podcast Day bonus episode where I am going to look back at the past episodes and see what we have heard so far.

International Podcast Day

First off, let’s look at the people I have interviewed

10 working parents
8 women
2 men
Out of the families we have discussed, we’ve had:
19 children
7 Parents doing full-time paid work
8 Parents doing part-time paid work
1 parent studying
1 parent out of paid work after a workplace injury
2 shift workers
3 families impacted by work travel
2 families with special needs children

So what have we talked about? Well as you can imagine we talk about flexible work arrangements a bit. I loved getting Alina’s perspective on flexible work arrangements as someone in the HR field.

Extract from Episode 4: Alina

So I think from the time I interviewed Alina there has been more and more evidence coming out that supports that view, that workers who have the ability to make work and other life demands happen more easily are more productive, balanced and loyal within their workplaces.

So when you were listening to Alina speak just then, who were you picturing? Someone you know who is already working part-time? Someone at your workplace who job shares? A friend who does some work from home. Can I ask, was the person you were picturing……female? More than likely it was.

I have written some of my own thoughts on flexible work arrangements in a blog post that I am going to read a passage from now:

“Overwhelmingly when people talk about their flexible work arrangements, it is our work value being expressed in ‘number of hours at work’, where the longer the hours = the more valuable the employee. This metric means that by being at work less (working part-time, or taking time off for kids appointments or events) we are seen as being less valuable, achieving less, and being less committed. If we are trying to work fewer hours we are seen to be slacking off or taking advantage. Quite frankly this metric serves to further the careers of those not toeing the childcare line…..currently, that is mostly men.

But a different metric to assess value is how productive we are, or what we are achieving in our work. Research is showing that employees (men and women) that may be at work fewer hours, but have a greater sense of balance and having the time to look after all their life responsibilities, are more content, more productive at work and easier to retain in the workplace. Some suggest that in reality, people working 4 days get more done than those working 5 days, that compressed intense passages of work can be more productive than long passages of time that are easily squandered. We all need to challenge our perception of flexible work as ‘working less’ and move towards seeing it as ‘a better fit for the same work’.”

Because while we are getting more and more on board with women working flexibly to fit in around family responsibilities which is a great step forward if we go back to the introductory episode of Head of a Codfish you may remember how we want males to be in the flexible work picture also.

Extract from Episode 01: Introduction

If at the moment we are not seeing men requesting flexible work arrangements in greater numbers, what are the barriers? As I discussed with Meaghan, there are a few obvious ones: the rules not catering for it, and then the culture of workplaces not being accepting of men who choose to take it up, and the men themselves attitude towards part-time and full-time work.

Extract from Episode 10: Meaghan

We looked more at the cultural and societal barriers faced by men looking for work flexibility with Alina, and I was kind of dismayed to learn that this had shaped the direction both of our families had taken in regards to divvying up the paid work.

Extract from Episode 4: Alina

I also talked with Meaghan about the change in attitude towards working parents in the event that flexibility was offered to all, not just working mothers:

Extract from Episode 10: Meaghan

What is the path forward from here? What do we need to do to help change the culture around men taking a step back from the workplace to allow women the time and energy to lean in without being overloaded?

When I spoke to Sir Lunch-a-lot about his family responsibilities and how that works with his leadership role in his organisation, he had some interesting things to say

Extract from Episode 11: Sir Lunch-a-lot

The attitude and examples set by workplace leaders is something that is pretty key to men accessing flexible work arrangements – if a leader has sought arrangements for themselves they are obviously going to see the value in their staff seeking the same arrangements. But I want to also look a bit closer to home for a barrier that may be contributing to men and women being locked into their traditional roles…….mother guilt.
Mother guilt is that feeling that tells us women that no one can look after our offspring as well as we can, and we should be doing ‘all the things’ to make sure things are done correctly. It is that feeling that we should be the one who looks after them when they are sick, it is the feeling that we should be doing the school pickups and taking the kids to endless after-school activities and we should be preparing healthy food every meal and we should be keeping a lid on the kids screen time.

So why do we have this mother guilt, and what is it good for?

Have you seen the movie Inside Out? Remember how we learn that Fear plays a role in keeping Riley safe, Disgust keeps her safe from social disaster, and Anger ensures she is getting her fair share. But when they take over the controls? Total disaster! Mother guilt helps keeps you in check, making sure you are doing a good job at this parenting gig with that nagging thought of ‘am I being a good parent?’.

Just like anger or fear, when mother guilt takes over the controls and rules all the decision-making, the person who comes off second best is the mother. We need to keep mother guilt in check and ask ourselves these question – is mother guilt serving us well? Or is it creating a mountain of work that only you can do? Is mother guilt giving you some reasonable information to make solid decisions, or is it running interference and causing bad decisions? Someone with too much anger or too much fear will make decisions that aren’t the best for themselves, and I think too much mother guilt has the potential to do the same. If the list of things ‘only mum can do’ is a long one, there is no room on the list for the things that keep us sane, engaged and learning.

To finish off I’d like to share this reflection on parenting and working from Amber

Extract from Episode 2: Amber

Let me know what you thought of this episode!

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