A Family-Friendly Workplace? Yes, It’s Possible!


By Paula Cabrera

There’s no denying that work can be stressful regardless of what job, career, or profession we pursue. That is why it is called work, after all—because it demands time, effort, and perseverance. No work, no pay. No guts, no glory… so on, so forth.

Thus, it is only natural for us tired parents to find ourselves constantly looking forward to the weekend and dreading Mondays. It is only natural for us to dream of finding that utopian job which allows to work from home. However, in the same breath, it also natural for us to long for success and fulfillment which we may find in our chosen careers, or simply accept that we must to work in order to pay the bills.

This is the working mother’s dilemma. This is the working mother’s love-hate relationship with her work.

So what is a conflicted mama to do? The demands of our jobs will always be there. However, I believe that attitude is everything and that there are proactive ways women can initiate to make our work environments feel like more like home.

Over the years, many employers have become more family oriented and thus more lenient about their policies. Consequently, there are situations in which many employers allow their employees (mostly those who are parents) to work from home, especially during times of emergency (such as when a child is sick or if a nanny is not available). These changes illustrate the value more progressive employers now give to fostering balanced and well-rounded individuals. Many employers now believe that if their employees are happy at home, they will become more effective and more efficient at work.

However, not every woman is fortunate in this way. Most employers still prefer the physical presence of their employees in the office or field, as face-to-face interaction is the ideal. At the same time, it is true that at separation between the comforts of our home and the attitude and atmosphere of work calls is also healthy.

So instead of forever longing for work that allows us to hang out at home in our pajamas with our spouses and children within arm’s reach, why not make the most out of our current circumstances and strive to make our work environment more family-friendly?

No parent should be placed in a position in which he or she has to give up a job in order to be worthy of being called a good parent. At the same time, no parent should have to give up attending all his or her kid’s activities in order to get that well-deserved promotion or recognition. It should not be a battle between being an outstanding ever-present parent and being excellent at our chosen careers.

We should never need to choose between to be one or the other when our strengths at our jobs and as parents, in truth, allow us to be both.

So now, how can we help in making our work environment family-friendly? While not all of us can call the shots at work (we all have different jobs and different positions), we can all contribute to this ideal with the following tips:

It is okay to demand what you are entitled to. In fact, if these are not readily given to you, you should demand them! Take note of all the benefits that our laws extend to working parents such as the maternity and paternity leave benefits, benefits extended to solo parents, provisions for breastfeeding mothers at work (lactation stations and periods), and tax benefits of having dependents.

Avail of flexible work arrangements when possible and allowed by your work. Some employers may be open to flexible work arrangements such as flexible and work-from-home schedules. Be bold, and discuss this with your employer….but also be willing to do your part. Manage expectations set clear guidelines for flexible work arrangements so as not to sacrifice the interests of your company.

Go ahead and make suggestions about childcare assistance. Not having a reliable nanny or a relative to attend to our children is a common problem for working parents. A lot of us also hesitate to leave our little ones at daycare centers, because we all want to ensure that our children are safe and in good hands while we work. So why not suggest to that your company provide a small daycare facility for the children of its employees? Let’s not underestimate their willingness to help.

Don’t be afraid to push for activities that involve families. It can be as simple as a family sports day or a family picnic. Many companies even hold workshops for their employees’ children to join during summer or during the weekends.

While it is true that nothing can replace the solace and comfort of our homes, I believe that work does not need to be a place of torment for parents. I believe we do not need to quit our jobs and give up our passions so we can be there for our children. While some families do have the financial luxury to allow at least one parent to stay home with their children, most of us must work. And so why not make the most of it? Why not, instead of seeing it as a burden, excel and thrive? Why not take action and work towards this elusive “work-life balance” we all want?

We owe it to our children and to ourselves to be the best well-rounded persons we can be. Work is not the enemy of parents.Work can, in fact, even help us become better parents.

In sum, I believe that any work environment can be family-friendly. As working moms, we just need to do our part in speaking up to making this dream a reality.


Paula Cabrera is a working mom and a devoted wife. She and her husband are both lawyers who are continuously learning to embrace the joys and pains of both work and parenting. Reading and writing have always been some of her hobbies, and so, despite being busy, she finds time to do both even for just a few minutes everyday. She hopes to be able to be able to reach out to other parents through her short pieces and remind them that they are not alone in the crazy yet fulfilling world of parenting.


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