Today, during National Families Week, I want to acknowledge the unseen and undervalued role of parenting and caring for young children. In so many ways, this crazy and chaotic corona crisis has turned life as we know it upside down. But it’s not all bad news. The lockdown period forced many parents to reflect on their busy and stressful lives and reassess their priorities. It provided breathing space to think about what really was important to them and their children. And it wasn’t more time at the office.
It turns out it was a slower pace of living …. more time for recreation and exercise created by less time commuting …. and sharing a home-cooked meal together at night, not to mention a resurgence in bread-making! Unsurprisingly, I’m hearing that parents want to retain some of this gentler, kinder, calmer existence …. but are fearful that the lessons of lockdown are quickly being forgotten. I recall that nearly 30 years ago, acclaimed author and child psychologist Steve Biddulph said (and I quote) ‘We cannot succeed as parents unless the structures we live in support our goal. Our society has unintentionally, but undeniably become toxic to families – so we have to change it.’
The government’s new commitment to ensuring greater respect, justice and safety for women and ensuring more equitable and respectful workplaces is an opportune time to ensure better outcomes for parents and their children. Bearing in mind the wisdom to never let a crisis go to waste, there has never been a better time for parents to demand a more family-friendly deal.
Let’s ensure our society is one where our children, and those that care for them, are truly valued and respected.
That’s just as I see it.