How Can We Help Working Parents?

A tired employee is not an engaged employee. 1 in 3 UK parents say that they struggle with the bedtime routine and 1 in 7 claim that their child’s bedtime routine makes them late for work in a morning but, what can employers do to make life easier for working parents?

What can employers do?

There are several ways that employers can make life a little easier for parents on their payroll. Whether it’s being more flexible or providing more helpful initiatives, here are 4 strategies that UK businesses could make available to staff.

1. Remote working 
Remote working can allow parents the extra time in a morning to organise the family and get them ready for playgroup, nursery or school. They save time on the commute and can even work from home if the child is too tired to follow the usual routine. 1 in 20 parents claim to have missed a whole day of work because of their child’s poor sleep routines.

2. Flexible hours
After a bad night’s sleep a 9am start might not always be realistic for parents. Offering workers flexibility over working hours gives parents more control over when they complete work tasks and when they need to be focused on family time. Likewise, if employees need to leave early to start the bedtime routine, flexible hours can really help.

3. Breakfast at work
A busy morning getting the kids up, ready, fed and off to school can be a job in itself for parents, leaving little time for their own breakfast. Many UK offices provide breakfast or equipment such as toasters and microwaves so that employees can have breakfast at work. This means that busy parents don’t have to neglect their own wellbeing to get to work on time.

4. Childcare provision
Both subsidised childcare and even office nurseries can be really helpful for working parents. It can take the pressure off both financially and save time taking kids to and from their day care centres. It also means that if children have a bad night’s sleep, parents are able to check in on them easily on their breaks which can be a weight off their shoulders.

What can parents do?

There is a lot of really useful advice out there for parents and it can be difficult to know which will actually work. In a survey of 2,000 UK parents Blinds-Hut have revealed the top five things real parents think are successful techniques to try. Vicki Dawson, founder of The Children’s Sleep Charity has had her say on them and why they could be useful for parents.

1. Bedtime stories (61%)
Bedtime stories are a great way to end the day and the perfect end to a good bedtime routine. Make sure that the story isn’t scary though before you start reading.

2. Strict routine (56%)
Routines are really important to help to support your child’s body clock and regulate their sleep time. Doing the same thing at the same time each night is really helpful to prepare the mind and body for sleep.

3. Black out blinds (50%)
Having consistent conditions during the night help us to sleep better. Black out blinds can help to keep lighting consistent throughout the night and are particularly useful during the summer months when light mornings can wake some children in the early hours.

4. Technology blackout (40%)
Screen activities before bed can lead to difficulties falling asleep for some children. The light omitted by screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Screen activities are best avoided in the hour leading up to bedtime.

5. Night light (37%)
Some children find having a night light is reassuring. Children with visual and hearing impairments can also find that a night light helps them to feel more secure in the environment. If you use a night light then keep it on consistently all night.

Vicki also told us, “All children are individuals and therefore there is no one piece of advice that will resolve all families sleep issues. The key is to unpick why the child is having sleep issues and to use strategies consistently that are in line with your parenting style. It is important to speak with a health professional to rule out any medical issues. A consistent bedtime routine starting an hour before sleep time can help tremendously. Avoid the use of technology in the hour before bed too as it supresses the sleep hormone melatonin making it more difficult to fall asleep.”

Employers need to make sure they are taking an individual approach to helping parents to make sure their own unique needs are being met, allowing them to do their job to the highest level possible.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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