The school routine adds 2+ days a month to UK parents' workload

How can employers alter workplace policies to ensure that working parents don't burn out?

A man on a Zoom call with two children at home
  • Mental wellbeing of parents needs to remain a key priority for UK firms;
  • Working parents will need to take the initiative to open up communication with their employer;
  • Clinical director advocates for honest dialogue between employee and employer, where employee shares their true reality to make ‘New Normal’ work

British parents are set to spend the equivalent of more than two working days extra a month on the school routine due to the additional childcare management needed due to the pandemic and employers will have to consider this in their workplace policies to ensure working parents don’t burn out.

The new research by Vita Health Group, has revealed that parents were spending on average 46-minutes extra a day (230 minutes a week) undertaking new tasks like staggering school drop-off and pick-up times, washing school uniform regularly and stepping in for lack of wrap-around care as an immediate consequence of the pandemic.

Upon evaluating the research results, Jane Muston, Clinical Director at Vita Health Group, emphasised, “The mental and physical benefits of children being back at school cannot be understated, and certainly employers will need to be sure to keep this in mind when managing their teams, especially those teams which are made up of working parents.""Work-life balance is a thing of the past. The key for parents is to create a work-home synergy that suits their own individual needs and then, most importantly, communicate and negotiate this with their employers. The emphasis must be on both parties here to make this ‘new normal’ work. For parents, taking the initiative to open up an honest and open dialogue with their employer, one where they share their true reality, could help create a flexible working package for them that reduces daily stress and anxiety. Ultimately, this will make employees more productive throughout the working day, remove this ongoing issue of presenteeism and ultimately ensure employees don’t burn out.”

The research of 2,000 parents of children aged between four and 16, undertaken by one of the UK’s leading healthcare providers, comes as many parents have experienced an unprecedented 24-weeks juggling childcare, home-schooling, and work. And this is really showing; nearly half (47%) of parents admit to feeling overwhelmed due to managing new back-to-school routine. And despite the additional pressure and weight of childcare causing a stark increase in parental anxiety, a quarter (25%) of parents say they have no coping strategies in place to support their own mental health.

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Muston says: “We can see from the research that families are adapting to meet new childcare needs, with men dedicating longer hours. But let’s be clear, finding an additional two working days* a month to plug into childcare management in an already time-consuming world, is no mean feat.”

Additional, noteworthy results from the survey:

  • Younger parents (18-34) appear to be more overwhelmed than parents older than them, with 40% of this age group claiming they feel ‘very overwhelmed’ compared to 22% of those aged 35-55+
  • The age group that feels they – as the parent – are more anxious than their child(ren) about the start of the new school year is those aged 25-34 (48%), whilst only 29% of those aged 45-54 claim the same.
  • 61% of parents say they need up to an hour more per day to meet new childcare demands, 21% will now need to put aside at least another 60-minutes and a number of parents (6.2%) say they need to find over two-hours more.

Note: One average working day is 7.5 hours.

Notes about the research: This research polled 2,000 UK parents of children aged 4-16, across the whole of the UK. September 2020.

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