Celebrating the wins and challenges of working parents at ANU

14 June 2022

As with everyone's job, in some weeks, work demands more of me and in others, family wins out. No matter what is happening though, being available to your kids when they need you is always on your mind.

From finding an effective work-life balance and spending time with family to ensuring productivity and career growth opportunities - how does one juggle parenthood and a career?

Each year, 1 June marks the Global Day of Parents. Established by the United Nations in 2012, the day honours parental units around the world and provides an important opportunity to recognise all parents for their commitment to their families.

To celebrate, we spoke to three ANU staff members and parents, Macarena Rojas, Tim Wilford and Jill Mowbray-Tsutsumi about balancing their career aspirations and caring responsibilities. 

Macarena Rojas is the Co-Lab Communications and Outreach Coordinator at the Mathematical Sciences Institute. Macarena credits flexibility, trust and support as key in balancing parenthood with her job. 

“I'm very lucky to have two wonderful supervisors and a fantastic partner that support me in any way they can. I'm able to pick up my daughter a few days a week, go to important events at school and continue my work at home without compromising productivity,” Macarena says.

“Even though I work full-time and study a postgraduate degree part-time, I don't feel like I'm missing out on being a parent.”

However, Macarena acknowledges that juggling parenthood and work presents some inevitable challenges. 

“As someone that works full-time and studies part-time, I do experience a little bit of guilt. Kids are little for a very brief period and I worry I might miss it,” she says.

Nonetheless, Macarena is determined to maintain her personal identity throughout her parenting journey. 

“I love working and learning new things and sometimes I need to remind myself that my personal goals are not to the detriment of parenting. I am doing my best to stay true to myself and set a good example for my child and that's what counts,” Macarena says.

Tim Wilford is the Communications and Marketing Manager at the National Security College (NSC) at ANU. Like Macarena, Tim is grateful for the support he receives from NSC in balancing his parenting responsibilities and his work. He also acknowledges the support of family who make the juggle possible.

"To fill the gaps while we’re both at work, we’ve enlisted the help of two sets of very generous grandparents, who take turns to visit ‘on holiday’ each month,” Tim says.

“Mum calls it her ‘tour of duty’, which makes me think the initial shine of the job is starting to wear off.”

Reflecting on parenting challenges, Tim remarks how bouts of sickness are forever present in his home, which he calls “the curse of childcare”.

“We all recover from one bug, just in time to be struck down by something else,” Tim says. 

Despite the challenges, Tim finds parenting a rewarding experience.

“I find the kids help me see the world from a different perspective, one with delightful simplicity,” Tim says.

When asked about what being a parent means to him, Tim says,

“It’s the best job in the world. And a wild ride!”

Jill Mowbray-Tsutsumi is the Research Engagement and Impact Communications Coordinator at the University’s Research Services Division. For Jill, the juggle between parenthood and work is a constant process of recalibration with some unpredictable – toddler shaped – variables.

“As with everyone's job, in some weeks, work demands more of me and in others, family wins out. No matter what is happening though, being available to your kids when they need you is always on your mind,” Jill says. 

In balancing parenthood and work, Jill finds that adopting some “wind-in and wind-out routines” helps her be more present and focused on the tasks ahead of her.

Jill also acknowledges how the last two years have been extraordinarily difficult for all working parents since the pandemic hit. 

“Family life combined with work during COVID-19 is a constant juggle. As someone who is a proud single tasker, this has been a real challenge for me.”

As challenging as the juggle may be, Macarena, Tim and Jill all agree that children constantly remind us of what is most important in this world.

“Children bring joy to lots of people - not just their parents. It is a joy to watch and be a part of that,” Jill says.

“As parents we are responsible for raising a new generation, and all I can hope for is that my actions lead to the development of a person who is kind, caring and will contribute to society,” reflects Macarena.