Helping employers to boost working-parent wellbeing, productivity & work-life balance

"​The perfect storm!"​

After reading my article from last week, “The perfect storm” is how one of my clients described the phenomena of raising older children whilst also going through the menopause – and I couldn’t agree more!

Women are now having children at a much later stage in life. According to the ONS the average age for women to have their first child rose to 30.7yrs in 2019.

Now my focus is on women, as evidence shows that despite the shifts towards equity between the sexes, it is still women as opposed to men, who carry out the bulk domestic responsibilities - including the care of children – and even as those children grow older.

Think about it - problem at school? Who gets the phone call?

This is also reflected in the workplace and is clearly evident if you simply take a look at who occupies the spaces in the Parent/Carer Networks – yep! It’s women!

So back to the storm…

Women begin to experience perimenopausal symptoms at around 47, meaning that during the tumultuous years of adolescent development– women are also managing huge, seismic shifts of their own.

For instance, the changes during perimenopause and menopause include common symptoms such as:

  • low mood
  • anxiety
  • mood swings and
  • low self-esteem

It is here that I could very easily interchange ‘perimenopause’ and ‘menopause’ with the word ‘adolescence’ as in my practice, common symptoms that I support families to address in their teens and tweens include – yep you guessed it:

  • low mood
  • anxiety
  • mood swings and
  • low self-esteem

Further, the average age a child leaves home in the UK is now 24.6yrs which nicely coincides with full brain maturation that is shown to be around the age of 25.

What can be deduced from these figures, is that whilst the challenges of adolescence begin to kick in at round 9-10yrs - a women can be simultaneously managing the challenges of their own perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, whilst also living with and supporting their children through their major stage in development - for about 7-8yrs!

The perfect storm indeed!


So, what can be done?

Here are five suggestions:

  1. The discourse around the challenges in raising teens and pre-teens needs to be given space.
  2. A recognition that adolescence is a major stage in development that can bring discontent to families from ALL backgrounds – regardless of class, education, culture, or financial status.
  3. The blaming, and as a direct result, the silencing of parents needs to be challenged. It starts with us.
  4. Parents need to become proactive and seek the understanding, knowledge and strategies to confidently address the adolescent years – just as they did for their children during the 0-5yrs.
  5. The workplace is a simple reflection of society – so whatever goes on out there – goes on in there. Therefore, to be truly progressive - the workplace has to facilitate parents who are also raising children outside of the 0-5yr age bracket. Case in point – expanding Parent/Carer Networks to be inclusive of those raising older children.

What are your thoughts?

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