Part time work. What works?

There’s no perfect answer, but everyone has an opinion.  For most families, it depends on such a complex set of circumstances, not all within their control.  Our needs change from time to time as well.

Every family is different but it’s a challenge we all face, so we’re presenting a series of special guest posts on part time work over the next week.  We’ve got some mums with really different stories to share, so there will be something for everyone.

We’re not trying to show any ideal situation – in fact the opposite –  but by asking mums to share their stories and what worked for them we can probably all learn something.  Those with young children can think about what they might need when the school years start.  Those with one or two children can think about their plans if their family expands.  And all of us can think about what can be done to make life easier for those of us juggling it all.  I’ve written elsewhere about ideas for the childcare rebate and public transport, but there’s no single answer, so please share your ideas.

I’m certainly no expert on part time work.  I work full time.  This wasn’t a deliberate strategy, but when I got pregnant I was in a job that was simply impossible to do part time, so when my baby was nearly one, I applied for another job with more flexible hours, less travel but still full time.  I had an agreement with my new employer that I would develop a proposal to reduce my days when I could tell them I’d found a way to get the job done in fewer days.  Two years later, we’re still waiting.  This is partly because my employer is great about so many things. I work from home one day a week, and I can often take time off for the important things when it’s needed.

It’s also a bit selfish because I think I’d still get calls on my day off if I had one, and I hear too much about mums who are paid for four days but actually work five.  If I’m going to do that, I’d rather have the money and the flexibility that working full time brings, like having a cleaner to help keep things ticking along at home.

We also want mums to take part in our poll.  We know that the answers are more complex than just a number of days but please give us your answer and tell us your story in the comments.

The more stories we can share the easier it will be for others 🙂

Kirsten

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8 responses to “Part time work. What works?

  1. Lucy Brotherton

    I am lucky enough to work 3 days a week, enough time at work for me to get satisfying projects and get stuff done, but 2 days to focus on kids/family/domestic chores. One issue I have often discussed with other mothers, is the general assumption (by employers, and sometimes other colleagues) that when you have small children (under school age) you can have part time hours, but as soon as they go to school, we are supposed to return full time. While obviously looking after small children is important, in my view, things just get harder when they get to school. In long day care, all of the kids are there till 5.30-6pm, in school, it is a minority who go to before and after school care, and an even smaller number who are there past 5.30 – kids notice this stuff. Not to mention trying to fit in homework, extra curricular activities like sport or music, socialising (for the kids and making friends (read building a network) for the mums). I don’t even think this stops for primary school. High school kids have a need for family to be home to help them out or just be there. A cultural shift to more generally allow part time or flexible work practices for anybody (dads included) is needed, and a small shift in this particular ingrained assumption about the needs of school age vs under school age kids would help.

    • Thank you for writing about what its like in school years – hard to tell what it’s going to be like after the transition from day care!

  2. I think you’re right about school hours Lucy, and the general expectations of employers. I think school + extra curricular activities just make things more complicated! Thanks for sharing your thoughts
    Kirsten

  3. Hi Lucy, I agree and certainly underestimated the change in what’s required for your kids in terms of emotional support and being there to facilitate setting them up in their various social networks once they start school. By 5 mine certainly started noticing shortcomings ( real or imposed) in my performance and could certainly join the dots!

  4. I worked full time with the first family; I’m working full time again with my new family. This time it is harder – 4 children and a more senior job. I feel exhausted all the time and guilty when I take time off for the parent teacher interviews, dentist, dropping kids off for camp – all the usual stuff. I never get to the gym any more because I come home to cook dinner.

    I’d love to work part-time – just isn’t going to happen for a while, sadly.

  5. It would be a truly wonderful world if less pressure was placed on the “super mum” phenomenon! Alas, it seems here to stay and while we all try our best sometimes our performance will suffer. I technically work three full days per week but since launching my own company I have found it’s more like 48 hours crammed in to 3.5 days and nights and weekends. I think we need to call for better childcare and support and gender pay equity. I also think we need to give ourselves a break and make sure we have “me” time whenever we can!

  6. Pingback: Work For Advertising Company With Ad Posting Job For All « Market Place For You

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