Does Pursuing a Career Make It Impossible to Raise a Family? as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Announces Her Pregnancy, Political Editor David Williamson Looks at the Challenge of Doing a Job and Being a Good Parent G Well In

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 20, 2018 | Go to article overview

Does Pursuing a Career Make It Impossible to Raise a Family? as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Announces Her Pregnancy, Political Editor David Williamson Looks at the Challenge of Doing a Job and Being a Good Parent G Well In


CONGRATULATIONS zoomed in from around the world when New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced she was expecting a baby.

This is thought to be the first time since 1990 that an elected world leader has given birth while in office. The last person to do so was Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto.

She plans to take six weeks off after the birth, handing the reins to the Deputy Prime Minister.

The announcement coincided with the publication of research showing how many of us struggle to balance the demands of work and family lives.

The latest Working Families Index found: | 40% of parents contracted to work 35-36 hours per week are putting in extra hours. Almost a third work the equivalent of an extra working day a week.

| Work demands are causing arguments. Nearly three out of 10 parents (28%) said work leads to arguments with their partner. It also leads to 38% of parents eating less healthily and 42% not taking enough exercise. | A third of parents said they felt burnt-out all or most of the time - with more than half saying work was the main cause of their burn-out. | Nearly half (47%) of parents and carers said work affects their ability to spend time together as a family. | For nearly four out of 10 parents (39%), work means they can't say goodnight to their children often or all the time; and work prevents 42% helping with homework.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped the New Zealand PM's announcement would "demonstrate to young women that holding leadership positions needn't be a barrier to having children (if you want to)".

But the findings of the Working Families Index demonstrate the challenges that parents working in all fields can encounter when trying to do their best for their children and for their employer. There is deep concern about family finances. The index revealed: | More than half (52%) of parents said it is becoming financially more difficult to raise a family.

| More than a third (36%) said did not have the time or money they need for their family to "thrive". | 15% of parents said they have had to increase their working time to bolster their family's income.

| Nearly one in five (17%) had deliberately stalled their careers for family reasons.

Carolyn Harris, the Labour MP for Swansea East, congratulated Ms Ardern on his pregnancy and saluted her on her plan to be back in the job after six weeks.

She said: "I admire the fact that she thinks she's going to be able to return back in six weeks and I hope if that's what she wants to do that she's able to do it," noting that "babies come with their own problems and sleepless nights and early mornings and general fatigue".

Commenting on the long hours that people in the UK are now working at the expense of family time, she said: "Austerity has played a part in so many people's lives now and I also think a lot of companies are able to put pressure on employees simply because people are so desperate to keep their jobs that they are prepared to do so much more than maybe they are contracted to do. Everybody wants to be a good employee, everybody wants to prove that they are indispensable.

"Unfortunately, in reality nobody is indispensable. …

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