Softworks Blog

Flexible working, career, children - can working mothers balance it all?

Posted by Aoife ODriscoll on Fri, Apr 1, 2011

She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along.” Margaret Culkin Banning

Where would we be without our mothers? And how do they manage to do it all? In the nearly 100 years since World War 1, women have moved from primarily working at home to making up 46% of the workforce worldwide today and over 31% in developing countries. (United Nations) As working motherhood becomes the norm, the need for flexibility in the workplace remains more pertinent than ever.

Hot off the press is a very insightful survey from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) which looks at childcare patterns across 22 countries worldwide. As you would expect, whether or not parents are working determines how much time they have to spend on childcare. Fathers and mothers who are not working spend more time caring for their children than their working counterparts. Interestingly, non-working fathers still devote less time to childcare than working mothers in nearly all countries surveyed.  

describe the image

Across the 22 countries for which data is available, parents devote on average 1 hour and 12 minutes per day to childcare. Non-working fathers care for their children for 51 minutes per day while mothers who do not work care for their children for 144 minutes per day.  In contrast, working fathers care for their children for 40 minutes a day compared with 74 minutes for working mothers. Total time devoted to childcare is lowest in Korea, Belgium and Hungary and highest in Australia and Ireland.

With great demands on the time of today’s employees, organisations are recognising the importance of acknowledging employees commitments outside the workplace.  According to our research, 91% of employers feel a responsibility to provide work-life balance initiatives to their employees. Flexible working has manifold benefits to both employers and employees. Introducing flexible working into an organisation also gives employers a greater talent pool including mothers.

In honour of mother’s day, we would like to ask both working mum and dads what are your best tips for balancing your career and family life? We would love to hear your views…

For more on flexible working, click here to read our white paper on flexible working and flexitime.


  • Miranda, V. (2011), “Cooking, Caring and Volunteering: Unpaid Work Around the World”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 116, OECD
  • Regus, Flexible Working Goes Global. March 2011.
  • United Nations, Women at a Glance. 

Topics: Flexitime / Flexible Working Hours Arrangement