Families feel pressure to choose between two options
Too often families feel there is an either-or choice that just doesn’t work all the time. They feel they either need to have one parent take primary responsibility for child care while the other works full-time, or they need to hire someone else to provide the care while they both work “9 to 5″ (or more) during the work week.
There is another option.
An increasing number of families have figured out how to combine parental care with a flexible work arrangement that allows both parents to maintain fulfilling work and careers while also staying involved at home. We call this Shared Care. When parents “shared care” they learn how to redesign work so they both can be actively involved in the care of their children and share in the financial needs of their families. Some Share Care parents flex at the same time, some take turns over the school year, others flex one way for the first child and then switch roles for the second child. Whether two-parent households, single-parent households, or households where parents live apart, Shared Care families work while continuing to create time for the important and rewarding job of caring for family.
ThirdPath can help show you how to use the power and strength of Shared Care. We help parents:
- Learn how to change the way they work by flexing when, where and how much work they do
- Create a partnership to effectively meet both family and work obligations
- Make conscious and informed choices to meet the changing needs of family and their goals for both work and life
Let us help you create a work family solution that feels just right for you! Read on to learn more. Peruse our many resources to help put your plans in place. Or print our FAQ about Shared Care – it’s a great way to get a conversation started about integrating work and family.
Questions About Shared Care
Q: Where to begin?
- Who do you want to care for your children? How attractive is it to have both parents share in their care?
- What are your children’s needs now? How will these needs change over time?
- What is the right balance of work & family time for you personally? What is the right balance for your partner?
When parents – including single parents – learn how to redesign work so they have time and energy for family, they learn skills they can use throughout their lives. Download our PDF A life committed to Shared Care to see how a Shared Care mind-set can bring benefits for a lifetime. Or take a look at the many resources we have for parents who want to create an integrated approach to work and family.
Q: Are fathers interested in Shared Care?
Q: Do Shared Care parents use child care?
Q: Do parents need to work part-time to Share Care?
Q: Does Shared Care relegate employees to the ‘parent track’ ?
To learn more, read about our growing group of Whole Life Leaders – leaders who integrate work and family needs. Or print our PDF about Whole Life Leaders and see how these pioneers our reshaping both work and family.
Q: Who does Shared Care benefit most?
The Changing Needs of Children
Thinking pro-actively about different work/family options means recognizing the solution you put in place will change as your children grow older. The work we’ve done with families has helped us see they transition through three unique stages:
Q: What should I expect during the New Family Stage?
Children between the ages of 0-2 require a tremendous amount of attention. Children’s brains are rapidly developing at this stage, and studies show connection, caring, and tenderness can lead to profound and positive outcomes later on. Given plenty of time to explore, experiment, make mistakes and try again, while being championed by relaxed, delighted, attentive adults, children thrive. Caring for an infant can also be a gift for work-focused adults. Playing with or paying attention to a baby can provide relief from a tense job and also be a reminder that some of the best things in life are free. Infants need and benefit from excellent care. Parents can blossom when deeply engaged with their babies. Many Shared Care parents rely on good quality part time child care, but they also recognize that parents (and extended family) can be the most enthusiastic care givers – especially when parents get a break from the job.
Q: How will things change once my children are all in school?
Over time children become increasingly independent and require less immediate supervision and care from their parents. Nevertheless, despite their markedly growing independence and increasing focus on peers, children in this age range still benefit from significant amounts of parental time. This stage provides an excellent opportunity to develop solutions that can positively influences the remainder of the years in which you provide care for your children. Parents can help children make and keep friends, arrange play dates with children whose parents they trust, and encourage children to begin helping out with household chores and responsibilities. As time progresses, parents increasingly have less influence over these same choices. The building blocks parents put in place early can create a great framework for years to come.
Time after school provides a great opportunity for unstructured play and a chance to increase your network of care. During this undirected but still supervised time, children can play creatively with siblings or friends. In fact, your school aged children may have friends whose parents will be interested in exchanging child care in the afternoons. From your child’s perspective, they get to spend more time with friends. And trading child-care duties with a circle of friends, neighbors, or relatives can provide long-term benefits for you as well. Having a network of adults close to your child that you can rely on creates a valuable resource for the support every family needs as they balance the responsibilities of work and family.
Q: What should I consider as children become teens?
During this stage teens have become “too old” for after-school care, yet many parents are also uncomfortable leaving children unsupervised at home. Creating a schedule where parents share being home after school also means teenagers return home to a supervised environment rather than to an empty house. Even though some young people are mature enough to self-supervise, peer pressure can be a powerful force. Leaving teens unsupervised after school can leave a young person vulnerable to getting involved in upsetting or even dangerous situations and outcomes.
Being available “as needed.” Most importantly, if you and your partner have developed a schedule where one of you is home when your teenager returns from school, you have increased the opportunity for your child to ask important questions or initiate a significant discussion in the moments when it feels right for them. Yes, these conversations can occur in the evenings and over the weekends. However, the more you make yourself available to your teen, the more he or she will feel your interest, and the more the opportunities for closeness and communication will increase.
Childhood is a nonrenewable and finite phase of life. How would you like to make the most of the time you have with your children? Take a look at the many resources we have to offer as you design the next stage in your work family solution.
Prioritizing Time and Money
One of the barriers we hear discussed is that parents feel they cannot afford to make more time for family. This is particularly true in today’s struggling economy and difficult job market. Or sometimes one or both parents fears that adopting a Shared Care solution may negatively impact their long-term earning potential. Yes, it may be true that we live in a world where people can gain significant rewards for giving all of their time and energy to work. But as one father summed it up, “There may be an economic tradeoff for taking this different route, but it is a tradeoff well worth taking.” There are also some financial benefits for Shared Care families as well.
Q: How does Shared Care build long term financial stability for families?
Q: What does this mean for your life?
We know that every person has always done their very best, but with a little planning and outside the box thinking, even more options may be possible. Check out our many resources for parents interested in exploring this rewarding option. Let us help you take the next step towards making your goals come true.
Work Family Stories
Laila & Barry
When Casey was born, Laila and Barry wondered how they could both stay involved with work and still take great care of their family. Initially, the couple solved their work family dilemma by having Barry take on the role of the stay-at-home parent. In part this was because shortly before Casey’s birth, Barry had lost his job, so this seemed like the logical solution for the family.
Julian graduated from college in the early 1980’s. Given the state of the economy at that time, he found it difficult to find work in his chosen field. He was newly married, had a young step-daughter and a new baby on the way. As a result Julian took a job in building maintenance working double shifts to help make ends meet. Life was not easy but family had to come first.
Like many men, Francisco and Luke had to fight against the internal and external pressures to focus primarily on paid work, and less on family. Adjusting to the role of being parents, including the joys of wanting to be actively involved in their daughter Elizabeth’s care, helped Francisco and Luke think outside the box as they developed their work family solution.