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?

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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!

Postscript:
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.

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