Being a parent carries a lot of mental load: “I must remember to make an appointment at the dentist for Joe”“Mel needs to wear red socks to school tomorrow”, “It is Sophie’s birthday next week, I need to organize the balloons”, “ I need to leave work early on Thursday because it is Peter’s parents’ evening” and on and on it goes. The to-do list is never ending! This is the mental load of being a parent. It is described as the thinking, planning, scheduling, and organizing of family members, and the emotional labour associated with this work. 

I am talking about the mental load of parents but to be fair, in most households this mental load is carried by mothers. It is not me saying this (don’t shoot the messenger), research shows that even when women work similar hours and earn the same or even more than their male partners, they still have a second shift taking care of the house and the children. Because usually when fathers help, they are doing just that: Helping. The woman is still the one that needs to keep all the balls in the air and ask for help. 

I don’t want to sound like the grinch, but the reality is that during Christmas our mental load increases. And depending on how ‘seriously’ you take Christmas it can increase by a lot! Decorations, visiting family (and negotiating family politics and dynamics), organizing (and cooking) meals (considering dietary requirements of half the family), present-buying (don’t forget the wrapping), attending school nativities (for which you have hand-made the perfect shepherd’s costume all on your own and from scratch), organizing Christmassy plans, card-writing, and volunteering at the school’s Christmas fair … And you must do all these while juggling work, taking care of the kids (while they are on holidays), and don’t forget to enjoy yourself and be utterly happy and charming! For many families, financial issues can be an extra concern. It can be a lot, right?

If this is how you feel every single Christmas, my proposal to you for this year is to stop and think about your priorities. It is great that you want to create a special holiday for everyone around you, but you also need to enjoy yourself and if possible, get some rest. How do we do this?

  • Learn to say NO. And say no without feeling guilty or bad. If you are asked to take things on that you simply don’t have the time for or don’t want to do, say so. Learning to say no is a skill that we all need to develop. The more you say it, the better you become at it!
  • Think what is important for you and what is not. Ditch things that are not important. In my case, I totally refuse to write Christmas cards. Have never done it. I don’t want to spend hours on end writing, sticking, asking for addresses … 
  • Share the load with the rest of the family. And I mean sharing the load, not just simply asking them to help. Delegate tasks to other members of the family. However, this means that if you don’t like how they do it, you need to keep quiet!
  • Stay away from social media. If you are feeling stressed those impeccably curated images of Christmas perfection will only make you feel worse. They are part of what makes us feel overwhelmed in the first place. 
  • Finally, the most important one: your children don’t need the perfect Christmas organized by the perfect but tired and stressed mum. Your children want to spend time with you, they want to laugh and play and chat. They don’t care if the decorations are absolutely perfect or how many Christmas cards you wrote. They won’t remember that. They will remember the good times they had with you during Christmas and that you made them feel loved and special. That is the meaning of Christmas. 

Whatever you are doing over Christmas, we wish you and your family a wonderful time. At REC Parenting we will be here to support you, should you need it. You can always get in touch with us at

Much love, 

Ana and the REC Parenting Team

Our new report examining how working parents are doing is out and people are talking about it! We have recently been featured in Benefits Expert and Workplace Insight.

Earlier this year, we asked 2,000 working parents with children aged 18 or under to tell us how well they are managing work and family. Our findings are worrying. To give you an example, almost half of working mothers and a third of working fathers have considered quitting as juggling work and parenting responsibilities feels too much to cope with.

Based on our findings, we strongly believe that employers must consider how they can enhance the support they offer to their employees who are re parents. Having an effective wellbeing strategy that offers a range of support that can be accessed easily when employees need it, will help reduce working parents’ stress levels and improve their family life. At the same time, it will help employers to attract and retain talent, increase productivity and save money. Everybody wins!

To find out more, download the full report here.

Photo: Mimi Thian via Unsplash

Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world in different ways. Being neurodivergent means having a brain that works differently from the ‘typical’ person. The key is that these differences are not viewed as deficits, rather they are seen as well…. differences, nor better or worse, just different. 

Neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of issues, including: ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, Down syndrome, epilepsy, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, tics disorders, ODD, giftedness… 

Approximately 1 in 6 children can be considered neurodivergent. We know that being a working parent may be challenging but the challenges for working parents of neurodivergent children may seem unsurmountable. These parents have to address frequent and intense crisis-driven care needs for their children, experience stigmatisation in many areas of life, and are concerned about their job security because of their demanding child care responsibilities.  

It is no surprising that parents of neurodivergent children drop out of the workforce at very high rates. Burnout, unpredictable schedules, and the varying levels of care required are some of the reasons. Yet we know that 60% of parents don’t disclose the fact that they have a neurodivergent child to their employer.  

Knowing how to support parents caring for neurodivergent children is imperative. These parents do face extra challenges but they are also likely to develop very valuable skills from their experiences in an atypical parenting situation, such as resilience, negotiation, time management and flexibility.  

Photo: Austin Diestel on Unsplash

Here are five strategies to support your employees who are caring for a neurodivergent child: 

  1. Support them with specialized resources: When a parent suspects or is told that their child may be neurodivergent, they face the very daunting and time-consuming task of understanding what to do, how to find the right specialists, and where to find support. And they must do all this while dealing with their own mental state. Offering dedicated resources at this time may be life-changing for a working parent. Parents of neurodivergent children need the right set of skills and tools so their whole family can thrive.  
  2. Support their mental health and wellbeing: Parents of neurodivergent children are 2.4 times more likely to have mental health issues than other parents. They suffer from high stress levels that contribute to depression, anxiety and other poor health outcomes. Easy access to mental health support services will help parents to take care of themselves in turn allowing them to take better care of their child.  
  3. Flexibility must be a policy not a perk: Be prepared to offer them some control over when and where they work. A meeting at 9 pm rather than at 4 pm may work better for them because the child is already in bed. 
  4. Train line managers: Line managers cannot be expected to know about everything. Training them so they have the tools to know how to accommodate and support parents of neurodivergent children is a must.
  5. Create a truly inclusive workplace: Parents may not tell their employers about their situation because of fear of not being seen as completely invested in their jobs or fearing that their co-workers and managers will think that their children are ‘odd’ or ‘weird’. Actions such as creating a dedicated employee resource group, celebrating a ‘neurodiversity day or week’, or a ‘bring your family to work day’ will help to create an inclusive family-friendly working culture. No matter how families look like. Initiatives should be ongoing to increase engagement and awareness.  

At REC Parenting we are committed to support the needs of parents of neurodivergent children. For any comments or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch at  

Ana and the REC Parenting Team 

The summer holiday is a good time to reflect on what worked and did not work during the previous academic year, allowing you to start the new one feeling refreshed (hopefully!) and with new goals. Doing so will help you to achieve work-life balance. This means giving equal importance to your career demands and your personal life. Work-life balance is more than a catchphrase: it’s a necessity. 

Here are some tips to achieve work-life balance:

  1. It’s OK not to be perfect 

There is no such thing as the perfect parent. It is important that we let go of that idea. You are not a superhero. There will be times when things won’t be perfect. Accept that this is fine, you are not failing, you are doing the best you can. And remember that for the most part, the idea of parenting we see in social media is not real. Don’t fall into the trap! Perfection is an unrealistic goal, trying to achieve it will only lead you to feeling stressed and unsatisfied. 

2. Ask for help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Remember the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”? It is true! And even more in the case of working parents and single parents. We all need help sometimes. Coordinate with other parents and family members. Take turns accompanying children to and from school, share birthday parties, and coordinate playdates so you can all have some free time. 

3. Be flexible

Understanding that there may be moments when your family needs you more and other moments when your work demands your full attention is essential. Be flexible and be ready to re-prioritise when things change. 

4. Do not neglect yourself

If you want to be able to take care of others, you must take care of yourself. If you are not feeling strong, you won’t be able to do well at home or at work. Remember to sleep and eat well, and exercise regularly. Many of us feel guilty when we have some ‘me time’, but we must learn to ignore that feeling! Think that taking care of yourself is the first step to take care of everything and everyone in your life. 

5. Do not feel guilty because you work

Use the time that you have with the kids to enjoy them, do things together, and support them. Do not waste your time wishing that you didn’t have to work. Those thoughts are not helpful, especially if you have no other option but to work. You can be a working parent and a fantastic parent, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! 

6. Learn to say “no”

For many of us saying no is difficult. Maybe for you saying no is packed with guilt, you are a people pleaser, or you are afraid of disappointing others.  However, think that your time and resources are limited, and you should put your energy and effort on the things that are important to you and your family. Whenever a request that you don’t want to do or can’t do comes your way, say no. The sooner you do it, the better so that you avoid unnecessary stress. Some ways of saying no are: ‘Sadly, I have something else going on’, ‘I wish I were able to’, ‘I don’t have the bandwidth to do it right now’, ‘Thanks for thinking of me. However, I am not able to’, or ‘I’m sorry, I’m not able to fit this in’. The more you do it, the easier it will become!

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

7. Set expectations at home and at work

The start of the academic year is the perfect moment to spend some time alone and decide what you want to achieve in the coming months. Similarly, it is a good time to hold ‘expectations meetings’ at home and at work. At home, establish with your family what will be expected of each one of you, the rules and the organisation of the household for the Autumn months. 

At work, depending on your role you can have a similar discussion with your colleagues and team members. Doing this will reduce the likelihood of having to say ‘no’ as well as reduce disappointments, frictions, and arguments. 

8. Change one unhealthy habit 

Many of us have habits that are not the best for our physical and mental health. Perhaps you drink a bit too much, don’t exercise enough, eat too much processed food, or spend too much time on Instagram. Whereas it is not realistic trying to change all our bad (or not that good) habits at the same time, it is realistic to try to change one. Decide one habit that you would like to change, and go for it! 

We wish you and your family all the very best for the new academic year. If you feel you need some extra support, remember to contact your REC Parenting therapist. You can also get in touch with us at We are here to support you and your family! 

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