I opened one of the main Italian newspapers homepage the other day to find this article, celebrating Italian major Chiara Appendino for setting up some open spaces in public offices for parents to change or feed their children. The move comes from a woman major – of course – and I applaude it with all my heart. However, it’s also necessary to mourn how behind we are still on these policies. It’s 2017, Europe population is ageing fast, and still we cannot accept people have kids. It all comes down to that.
So I’m here talking to you, policy-makers, politicians, and anyone who has a tiny bit of power to change things. Even office admin leads, I say. And I’m talking to all of you parents, so you start pressuring to get what you deserve from your city council or governments.
Let’s talk motivation first:
- if you make parents happy, people will be more keen on making kids,
- if you accept the private lives of parents, you motivate them as people and workers.
Beside that, opening public spaces for parents and kids, may attract new flows of tourism or, in case of some professional events, a bigger and more diverse audience. I would have not had kids in Italy, honestly. The facilities are not sufficient and I am no martyr. Here, I dream of a big family. From my personal experience, I can say the environment and general atmosphere can make a big difference.
How to reach the goal? Even cheap solutions can make a difference. Now, I talk from experience here. I have worked as conference planner during my time in academia and even on a tiny budget I could build up practical solutions to allow parents to attend. Here’s some easy and cheap changes I am hoping for:
- for any public office or space to have a breastfeeding safe space, a nappy-change room, and some facilities to feed small children (microwave, highchair, …). Public offices, libraries, and son on;
- for professional events to invest part of the budget into facilitating parents of young children to take part. A children care room in the conference facility, grants to allow the children or another carer to travel along with the guest;
- for public transportation to allow parents to move easily. Low or absent fares, appropriate spaces for strollers;
- for museums to facilitate visitors with children: stroller-friendly itineraries, childcare rooms, low family fares, kids’ pitstops with small puzzles or colouring pages.
The main idea must be let’s facilitate parents and make things easier for them. Many of the above suggestions are services I daily benefit from. They make me feel appreciated as a parent and as a member of society. I hope things will soon move in this direction everywhere in Europe.
How’s the situation where you live? Leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to see more of in your town.