POLL: Full-time work not the mother of all family problems

ORANGE psychologist and mother of six Nicole Caro rejects statements from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) that mothers should only work up to three days a week or risk an unhappy family life. 

Research covering 35,000 Australian families found the “tipping point” of work/life balance is for women to work 15 to 24 hours, or two to three days, each week.

AIFS senior researcher Jennifer Baxter said women who worked these hours felt their job actually improved their time with their family and made them a better parent.

Mrs Caro runs her own business, Caro Consultancy and Capable Kids, her children are all under the age of 10 and she advocates that working full time has advantages for children and their parents.

“There are strategies you can put in place, for example, I teach my kids different responsibilities, they help make their lunch and make their beds, they learn responsibility and independence,” she said. 

Mrs Caro said mothers should not feel guilty if they did not have the luxury of working only three days a week.

Parents should attempt to be at events important to their children such as sporting games and school assemblies, but a family with parents or carers who work full time can be just as happy as one that does not, she said. 

“Society really does judge people who have to go back to work, but unless you are in that exact position then you have no right,” she said. 

The AIFS research found women’s positivity dropped off significantly as the number of work hours increased, going into negative territory when work took up more than 35 hours a week.

Mrs Caro says her own case is a classic example of how anything is possible when it comes to being a working mum.

She does not feel her children miss out or are disadvantaged in any way. 

“My advice to clients is that as long as you can have flexible work arrangements, have great time management, and routine and stability then you can make it work, “ she said.

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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