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How to better support parents?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the discussion ‘Sharing the juggle: Re-thinking how society and businesses support parents’ on LinkedIn Live, organised by the John Lewis Partnership and it was fascinating to hear the views from the speakers on the panel: Rt Hon Caroline Notes, MP, Ayesha Murray, Joeli Brearley, Elliott Rae, Nina Bhatia, Vivien Waterfield and Paul Scully, MP.

I’ve had a chance to reflect on the discussion, and the comments that were made, and am feeling hopeful that change can happen, IF we all work collaboratively and make it happen together.

Here’s why…

Over the past 4 years of bump & glide, I have spoken with hundreds of people, parents, healthcare professionals, GP’s, small business owners, people in the private and public sector, Women Health physiotherapists, individuals from different generations, backgrounds, cultures and beliefs and the unanimous feeling about the perinatal period in a person’s life is that it isn’t what it should be. Worse still, it doesn’t seem to be improving despite it being a problem for years now.

100% of people I have spoken to have said it should be better, on so many levels.

So how do discussions like the one which took place yesterday help? They bring the challenges to the fore, they keep the conversation going. But we need more than to continue the conversation, we need more collaboration, in order to have more action, in order to have more prevention and in order to have communities and people who thrive, not struggle through some of the biggest and most impactful ‘life events’ they’ll ever experience.

What I took away from this discussion is that there are a great many of us in this space who are passionate about making things better for those coming after us, who are only too aware of the challenges parents and families are facing again and again, month after month, year after year. Whether it’s childcare costs (which are ridiculously high by the way), flexible working options, better mental health support, and more. Yet, change seems slow, I am hearing the same issues and challenges from parents I’m working with now, that I experienced myself...almost 7 years ago, as did others before me.

So what key things need to happen to ensure these changes are implemented soonest? We need more voices, more people being part of the conversation, we need more action and legislation from the Government, we need businesses and organisations to think outside the box and realise that an APP alone won’t help someone to have an in-depth conversation about how they’re feeling during pregnancy, the first few months with a newborn or the return to work period and beyond. An APP won’t get to know and understand your journey like a human being will.

We need human-to-human conversation and connection, we need relationships of trust, continuity of care, compassion, understanding…

My daughter often says she wants to be an Astronaut when she grows up, something she will probably need to study Rocket Science for, but this? Human connection and understanding? Surely, that’s not Rocket Science, it’s common sense.

We are only too aware of the problems. Now, we really need solutions, and we need them fast.

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