More than half of the US population between 18 and 40 have children, yet our workplaces are not designed for parents.
The struggles of work-life balance become almost unbearable when you become a parent. Now, instead of your own stress level solely at risk, you risk the emotional well being of your children when you work too much.
There is value in children seeing their parents work – studies have found that children with working mothers are more likely to have their own careers later in life. Many children thrive socially and developmentally in full-time care. The world benefits from the brilliance and perspective of working parents. And it’s great that feminists have paved the way for mothers to pursue their career dreams while still raising a family.
Both of my children – ages 4 and 1.5 – are showing signs that they are ready to venture out into the world more often. And I’m deeply inspired, raring to go back to work. But the only step for me to take at this point is a giant leap into full time work and full time care. Believe me, I’ve been searching: all the great jobs are full time. But it feels like too much.
Coming from a deep and murky unexplainable place, I simply can’t accept it. No matter how much we need the money, no matter how many families thrive with both parents working full time, every cell in my being screams: I want to be close to my children. I want to be there for my children. They are so young.
You’d think I was in an ideal situation: contract work, part time, from home. But it’s dicey. My contract work changes, and it’s hard to find childcare that’s as flexible. More often than not, I work at night or early morning, the room so dark, I can’t see the keyboard as I type. I’m frazzled. It’s not sustainable.
What I need is a 3:00 Hero.
I just need to get that awesome full time job, and then I need my hero to show up at 3PM. They will finish out my work day so I can go pick up my children from school and spend some quality time with them. Make dinner together.
This isn’t literally how 3:00 Heroes would work, but it illustrates the idea. The perfect scenario for many parents in this country would be working 3/4 time. But who is going to pick up their slack?
3:00 Heroes would be a recruiter or temp agency that offers young professionals who are just starting out a chance to work at high level jobs for just 10-15 hours per week. They would be paired with a parent (or anyone who would rather work a little bit less), and together, the pair would complete a full time work week and split the full time salary.
Perhaps I could be paired with a young person who is just starting to learn about writing, public relations and communications. Maybe she can take on some of my easier tasks, to begin with. Maybe the job could even grow into something more for her. It could be good for companies, too: maybe another stream of candidates being trained internally could cut down on turnover.