Mother to Matilda, 13, her daughter with the late Heath Ledger, Williams may have fame and fortune, but she finds life as a working parent a challenge like so many of us. “I feel like I’m so good at raising a kid when I’m not working… [when I’m working] it’s a real luxury to have a moment when I’m not scrambling. I feel like most of my life, I’m trying to do two things at once, both to the best of my abilities.” She also says that “single-parenting,” can feel like life is held together by “a thread and a paper clip.”
Like Williams, a new national survey has found 62 per cent of parents and carers report difficulties looking after their own physical and mental health as they try to balance competing work and family pressures.
The study also found about one-third of parents reported that the combination of work and family responsibilities contributed to stress and tension in the relationship with their partners and with their children.
Initial findings from the National Working Families Report, to be released today, analysed data from more than 6,000 Australian parents and carers. The survey was commissioned by Parents At Work with the support of a national network of employers and parenting advocacy group, Karitane.
Parents at Work
Parents At Work CEO, Emma Walsh, said that the majority of working parents and carers reported difficulty striking the right balance between their work and family commitments.
“These stresses have important implications for both families and employers. One in four parents and carers reported an increased intention to leave their jobs in the next 12 months because they struggle to combine caring with their job,” she said.
“Two-thirds of working parents and carers reported struggling to look after their own physical and mental health, and that’s a startling statistic by anyone’s measure. Working parents and carers also find it difficult to manage household chores and caring for family.
“Half of all women and one-third of men who were parenting or caring reported they were under a lot or a great deal of stress when juggling work and family roles.
“Two-thirds reported feeling too emotionally or physically drained when they got home from work to contribute to their family and half had missed out on family activities in the past month, due to time they had to spend at work.”
Ms Walsh said most individuals reported that their job helped them feel personally fulfilled but highlighted the need for more support to better manage the pressures of work and care demands.
“Top priorities included a need for more flexibility over when and where they worked, reduction in job pressure and overall workload and help with care services such as having access to childcare at work, or being offered childcare rebates from their employer,” she said.