You only have to ask

Part of my parenting role was of the old school, and I remember when most women stayed home to rear their family (and maybe a neighbours as well), envied the ones who went to work and fawned over the style our husbands couldn’t afford. Don’t get me wrong, those were the good old days when, having children was a JOB, what you DID, and though hard work, it was rewarding and sociable.   

After my forth child an acquaintance asked, “What do you do?” and although I did work part time, I answered with continuing confidence that I had four children, and was astonished by the quick “yes, but what do you do?” in response. 

Times have changed and though there is every gadget to make life squeaky clean and efficient, there is none can juggle like a mother, and boy, today she needs to juggle a lot, as most mothers are now ‘working mums’ myself included. But employers beware, what you give, is what you get. Offers for women to freeze their eggs are a high risk investment in future employment loyalty. The not so subtle pressure this offer places on women is hardly a selling point for any company. Not the stuff of coffee table exclamations “you won’t believe the deal I got to work there”. I am guessing that the brains behind this offer have never had their eggs extracted, with all the incumbent difficulties, only later to produce a bouncing babe at the perfect time??? I remember well the difficulties recovering after my forth child, our bodies just don’t work to company deadlines.

But let us not dismiss the kindly offer of assistance to the approximate tune of €15,000 to entice employees into their companies. Let see what alternatives they could offer to keep their skilled female workforce. What about helping them access  good quality childcare for example, or flexi time, or a job share might suit very well, or some help with the excessive childcare costs – now you are talking - they might build a crèche on site so those free lunches can be spent with their happy children. ‘Oh’ the possibilities for making mothers and fathers happy at work are endless, if only they were asked.

Crazy idea you might say, but not so, Edward Cecil Guinness in 1914 opened the doors to The Iveagh Trust Play Centre (now Liberties College) to support the Guinness workers and their children where activities included literacy, sewing and cookery classes. 

In 1906 Maria Montessori was invited by the local council to oversee the care and education of a group of children of working parents in San Lorenzo, Rome. Most of these were children of workers in the Peroni Brewery. She opened her first school in 1907, and that is a trade name well used today.

Then there is Rudolf Steiner who opened his first school in 1919 by the request of Emil Molt, the owner and MD of the Waldorf–Astoria Cigarette Company, to serve the children of employees. Hence the name Waldorf, now trademarked in association with the educational method.

So you see there is nothing new in companies supporting parents and their family, what is new is supporting them to avoid having any.