Children’s experiences of the work/life balance

Helena L Wilson, University of Liverpool

The poster will highlight the preliminary findings from a study investigating children’s experiences of, and what they feel about, their mothers’ employment. The poster will show the use of activity-based methods as a way of engaging children, particularly the use of vignettes, visualisation and counting techniques, and rainbows and clouds as a way of expressing feelings. Activity-based methods engage children, and are insightful for the researcher in facilitating the collection of children’s narratives. A multi-methods approach allows flexibility in each encounter, adapting to the needs and preferences of each individual. The study looks at children aged 5-6 and 8-9 years old in the north of England within different family and labour market structures. Children aged 5-6 may have recently started school and children aged 8-9 may have different experiences between infants and junior schools. Their experiences of after school care; given that most women tend to have entered the employment market (if they have any intention of doing so) by the time their child is this age is also investigated (Paci and Joshi, 1996). Children born into a family with a history of women’s employment may have differing views to those where women’s employment is a relatively new phenomenon. The types of employment, hours and stresses parents experience are all important in children’s evaluation of their parents working. Children who experience maternal employment in affluent areas view their mothers employment in a different way to those in lower income areas, as do children who have recently experienced changes in their mothers working arrangements. There are also disparities between their attitudes to spending time with care providers, particularly influenced by patterns experienced in the past. Their future aspirations and perspectives on gender roles are also investigated, and the role of their socio-economic status along with their age is examined throughout.

Presented in Poster Session 1