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If you’re a stay-at-home mum or dad planning a return to work, you’ll probably be thinking ‘if only it was that easy’; just drop the kids off at the school gates, work the seven hours that they’re in the teachers’ hands and be back in time for pick up. Simple, right?
The reality of finding a term-time job can be altogether different; the few flexible positions available are snapped up before you have chance to tie up your kid’s shoelaces. Juggling work and your responsibilities as a parent can be a constant balancing act so it can sometimes be difficult to find opportunities that present the flexibility you need. Let’s face it there aren’t many employers out there offering a 10am-2:30pm working day.
Besides needing to work a shortened day there are the holidays to consider; the school calendar is dotted with holidays, short days, teacher training days, not to mention sports day, the nativity play and days when your children are off sick. Put all these together and the chances are they add up to more time than most parents can get off from work. If your colleagues also have school-age children, there will be stiff competition for getting leave when your kids are out of school.
Reconnect with the working you
Don’t let these seemingly unsurmountable hurdles put you off, speak to any working parent and they’ll give you tips on how to keep all the plates spinning. Having settled your child into school you may feel ready for the challenge and excited by the opportunity to get a slice of the ‘old’ you back.
It could be that you’ve lost enthusiasm for your pre-children career though. Many mums see returning to work after a break to care for young children as a chance to try something new or to be their own boss able to dictate their own pace and working hours.
And you won't be the only one considering running your own show – figures reveal the number of self-employed females has grown by 55% since 2008, many of them new mums. The biggest hurdle for many considering a new start is overcoming a lack of self confidence, that can come with taking time ‘off’ to raise a family.
Working for yourself
The most flexible way of working around the kids is to become self-employed. Striking out completely on your own can be daunting, but there are other options. Becoming a Home Helper is one such option.
Close to Hand offers complete flexibility for registered members as they can contact people looking for help directly through our secure online messaging service. The idea is that they contact those who have posted a job to agree times that suit them both. In some cases, hours will be set, for example a client maybe looking for a chaperone to attend their regular weekly hospital appointment, but the majority of jobs posted offer flexibility.
The right work/ family balance for you
The chances are there are people in your neighbourhood who would value a helping hand at home; to them it makes very little difference if you pop in at 10 am after the school run or around lunchtime before your child needs collecting from school. New parents may need help with meal preparation and shopping and older people living on their own, or with their partner, can often be very lonely and having a visitor at any time of day is a welcome relief from the feelings of isolation; their needs aren’t necessarily ruled by the clock and certainly not the 9-5 clock.
If you’ve dreaded the first day of school for a fear of being lonely yourself, then you’ll understand only too well what it feels like to sit at home on your own with no conversation for distraction. It feels somehow taboo to admit to loneliness as a parent but many new mums feel isolated and alone. This too can be a huge issue for older people living alone.
Becoming a Home Helper could be one way that you combat your own feelings of loneliness, while reaching out to someone feeling the same crippling symptoms. It might not be an easy thing for anyone to admit, but loneliness amongst parents isn’t uncommon. In a recent Mumsnet survey, 71% of parents said that loneliness was a problem for them now, or it has been in the past.
Honed people skills
Well-honed interpersonal skills allow us to empathise and build rapport and there’s no doubt that being at home with kids develops your people skills and your ability to multi-task like no job you’ve ever had. Empathy and kindness are the main qualities people look for in a Home Helper, beyond these attributes there are no special skills required to prevent you from registering.