Being a ‘Robinwood Parent’

You can’t work as an instructor at an activity centre and be a parent… The hours are too long, the work is too hard and it’s just for young people with no commitments… Or so you might think…

Coming back from maternity leave as a breastfeeding mum I was extremely nervous as to what to expect. I even looked at other jobs so I could always be there for bedtime.

But as I was looking I became to realise how lucky I am! I get all the holidays off with my little girl and I also only need to work 3 days a week!

Me and my husband both work for the company and the managers have been nothing but supportive of us from making sure that our shifts work out for our childcare as we don’t have family close by to making sure that all my needs were met as a breastfeeding mum! I also love what we do and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. Cobi

Flash back 20 months and things at home are taking shape for the arrival of baby Emi. We’ve got the cot, pram, clothes, all manner of other things and crucially the birthing playlist is coming together. But what about childcare? Both my wife and I work (As it happens both for Robinwood, although she’s in head office) so how will it work?

Well that’s where Robinwood come in… We’ve decided to take split parental leave so my wife will take 6 months and I’ll take a month after that… but as luck would have it that ended just as our summer holiday started. So I actually got 2 for the price of 1, Bonus!

But I’m getting ahead of myself… before that I had a chat with our centre manager Stu. It wasn’t a long chat, but it got the job done… Stu had been expecting this discussion and was keen to get my hours sorted to best suit being a new Dad. I requested to drop down my hours in order to allow me to have Mondays and Tuesdays off in order to look after Emi… Quick as a flash numbers were checked and that was it, job done!

Now I must add that I’m lucky enough to be able to drop hours (financially) and that the days I wanted to work suited the centre, but I was never in any doubt that everything that could be done would be.

The hours can still be long and the work can certainly be tiring, but be in no doubt that Robinwood is a family friendly company.

Jump forward to last month and on a sunny Tuesday; and 6 current and former Robinwood parents are visiting a petting zoo with 6 ‘Robinwood Babies’ in tow. (And that number could easily go into double figures just at the Todmorden centres).

Most people would think that Robinwood and for that matter any other ‘Outdoor Centre’ would be full of young 20 somethings, and it’s true to a point… I certainly was a lot younger when I started, but at Robinwood you can grow, and balance work and family life. Matt

‘So what are your plans for this half term?’ Some way into explaining our planned mixture of family days, social commitments and unscheduled time, I realised that I was answering a different question than the one I’d been asked: for most working parents school holidays are a tricky mixture of juggling days off, childcare swaps, roping in grandparents, and paying for holiday clubs. Fortunately, at Robinwood we get most of the school holidays off together.

Everyone at Robinwood works some antisocial hours – shifts are up to thirteen hours long, and most people do some night duties. But as a two instructor family (and parents to two boys age seven and four) we have found ways to make it work for us. Fixed timetables are what makes it possible – we don’t have family close by to help with childcare, so we need to know that if one of us is working late the other one definitely won’t be.

There are times that something odd has appeared on one of our timetables, but we’ve always been impressed by how willing management are to work with us to keep it working for everyone. Our children are still small enough that when we’re on long days, we say goodbye in the morning and have to remember to say see you tomorrow, not see you tonight – because they’ll be asleep when we get back. But we can go off to work, knowing that the other parent will be back early ready to pick them up. When they were tiny, we felt that working in the evenings means that they aren’t missing out on time with us – as it was when they were asleep anyway.

Our previous jobs had more conventional length days, but were at least an hour’s commute either way – now we have a fifteen minute walk to work. We each work four days a week, spread over six days. It does mean that there’s always one of us who has just got in from work, or is heading off to work in the morning – which can feel a bit relentless.

We just have to remember that terms are short: we’re never more than seven or eight weeks away from a week off together. The boys love being able to come up for a visit sometimes – just having parents’ who work in a castle is pretty exciting to them, let alone being able to try the activities. Rebecca

So what do you think? Has it changed your mind? If you’re a parent and want to work for Robinwood, but you’re unsure, then why not drop us a message and we’ll be happy to give you our honest advice.