Part-time or not part-time, once you become a mother? That is the question. I’ve been working part-time since my number two was born, and it’s been three years since then.
The main benefit of working part-time is that you get more time to spend on yourself and your family, while at the same time maintain some semblance of a career.
The cons are: less income and the potential issues in drawing the line between work and family, and the need to manage the expectations of bosses and co-workers.
When I first thought about switching to part-time, I asked myself these questions:
- Will we have sufficient income?
- Will I be able to complete all my work within the designated work-hours?
- Will I be able to spend quality time with my children on my off-days?
- How will my boss receive the idea?
Of course, I fretted over these quite a bit, and had plenty of discussions with my husband. It helped that the benefits at the time were obvious, to me at least. I felt that I really needed some time during the week to spend with the kids. I also needed time to care for myself (I seriously thought at that time that I couldn’t cope and was going to burn out soon), and to tackle the usual household chores.
I work in a local corporate communications and PR consultancy, and we are a small team. I’m thankful though that my boss is very understanding, and we’ve managed to work out a functional routine and define my responsibilities.
On my off-days, I try not to check emails or look at work (unless it’s very pressing issue, or something I wasn’t able to resolve before my day off.) I start my week planning a to-do list, consisting of things I need to settle for the home (such as the grocery run), things I would like to do with the kids (perhaps a craft activity or a trip to the Botanic Gardens), and things for myself (getting a hair cut or catching up with a friend over coffee.)
Some questions to think about before taking the leap:
- What is your main motivation to go part-time?
- How would you use your off-days?
- Does your current organisation and role allow you to work part-time? (If not, would you consider changing to a different job?)
- Does your current financial situation allow you to work part-time?
- What sort of sacrifices does switching to part-time entail? (Think in terms of impact to your finances as well as changes your family may have to make.)
- Is your spouse supportive? What can you do to help him see the benefits of going part-time?
- How would you approach your boss on the topic? What solutions can you propose to help him or her support your decision?
If you do decide to make the switch, here are some tips to bear in mind:
- Be clear about the responsibilities you will have, and the KPI.
- Have some degree of flexibility, but be aware if you’re being asked to do too much, and be honest with your superiors about the challenges you face.
- Be a team player. If you have completed most of your work-load, offer help when you know a team member is under pressure. That way, you can also feel free to ask for help when you need it.
- Guard your off-days jealously. Don’t let little distractions or tasks eat into your time. It is a precious resource so be focused on the goals you have set for yourself.
- Learn to prioritise your work. Along the same vein, prioritise your home and personal matters too.
- Learn to say “no”. Ask yourself does this really need my involvement and investment in time now? Does doing this help me to achieve my long term goals?
- Try to be fully present with your family and children when you are not at work. That way, you can feel free to be fully present at work too.
I hope these questions and tips are helpful to you, as you consider your options. If you have any questions or doubts to air, do leave a comment!
I’ve been working part-time for the past three years, and have just started working from home recently. While I’ve quickly learnt is that I am not as efficient at home. I realise it is a trade-off for being able to be there for my children when they need me most. I’m still learning how to find a balance, so when I’ve found my sweet spot, I will definitely write about it to share with you. Mums At Work regularly puts up part-time /contract job listings for their members. Find out more here.