Dads to support working mums – and vice versa

I read a great article in The Times this week entitled ‘Why Success at Work Starts at Home.’  One comment really stood out for me.  It was this:

Behind every great woman there is a man.’ (The Times 20/9/14)

Combining working and parenting is a huge challenge for us all.  What I have come to realise over the 5 years of researching, observing and coaching parents in the workplace, is that you are much more likely to succeed in your career and have a happier work/life balance if you are supported at home, preferably by your other half.

What can dads do to help?

This support can be practical – sharing the pick- up/drop off at childcare; cooking and shopping; or being ‘on-call’ and ‘generally available’ if children are sick and can’t go to nursery.  Many working mums also need emotional support in dealing with the many difficult emotions which accompany early parenthood at work – feeling guilty, having lower confidence levels; and just needing a sounding-board when we’re trying to work out how to get our careers back on track again.

Last week, The Guardian came out with 5 top things men can do at home to support their other halves

‘Just as we expect women to support fathers in seeing their children, or ensuring boys thrive at school, we guys should be rugby-tackling the stuff holding them back professionally.’

The Guardian Peter Lloyd 12 September 2014

Professionally, if you are a male manager managing someone through maternity and return, this is a HUGE opportunity to ‘rugby-tackle’ any work-related barriers.  Lots of communication, trust and a focus on 2-way flexibility is key to help re-integrate a new mum back into the business.

What can mums do to help dads?

We can let go!  We need to get comfortable with giving away some of our control and trusting our other halves to get on with what only they can do best – being a dad.   At work, rather than over-competing with men or trying to become more male in how we behave in an attempt to get ahead, we need to collaborate.  Both mums and dads bring fantastic (and very different) skills to the workplace – let’s make more use of them.