Part time work. Juliet’s story

Juliet Hudson is a mum to Ruby, six and Charlotte, four.  She works in marketing four days a week.  Today she shares her tips on part time work with us..

I know that for many working mums the sum of the parts don’t always add up. But I believe I’ve got it pretty good. Working part time, four days a week, in a role that’s interesting and has super-flexible work conditions. Stress levels are really low and I get to spend quality time with both children.

We moved to Australia on a dream of cutting back work hours and stress to enjoy an easier lifestyle. But with a three and one year old, no support network and a husband still working long hours, there was only one solution – return to work, at any cost!

My goal was to work fewer than the 40+ hours I was accustomed to, which would mean I could do at least some things well rather than lots of things badly.

Here are my tips on what to look for in a part time job.

1. Don’t take just any job

Despite holding down a senior role before becoming a mum, finding a part time job a was actually not as easy as I thought it would be.  The first recruiter I saw said that because I was a mum returning to work I should expect to return to a much more junior level for longer hours!  She promptly sold me an awesome marketing assistant role in dog food with a one hour commute each way!

2. Set your criteria for success and stick to it

Don’t convince yourself that dog food is a good thing.  For me, a job has to be easily reached by foot or public transport, be three – four days a week, and have flexible start and finishing times. The work must be interesting, be in the area of health and offer development opportunities.

3. Number of days and total family wellbeing

I originally focused on three days allowing two days at home when the girls were home. This year only one day off is taken up with mumming and the other day off I have to myself – a blissful pleasure. Next year both girls are at school so five days is a real option. And for the right job, I’d seriously consider more hours. But I’m definitely convinced that five is too many and three – four days is best for our total family’s wellbeing.

4. Accept that often the numbers just don’t add up. 

We don’t qualify for any childcare tax rebates. When the girls were younger, there were no places available at any of our local childcare centres so we hired a full-time nanny on the days I worked. When all my work related costs were added up, I barely break-even. Now we have an after-school nanny so the hard yards cost-wise are done!

5. That goes for hours vs. pay too.

Often my hours at work exceed hours paid, and my employer definitely benefits. I enjoy my work and take pride in doing a good job. I’m happy to do what’s required to ‘get the job done’. After all, I often worked overtime in my full-time employment. I have received some holiday time in lieu for extra workload. It’s important to agree the scope of a part time role and review regularly with your manger. Occasionally I agree to working extra days for the extra cash, but usually only for a set period of time.

6. Childcare has to be viewed as a fixed cost.

It’s a cost of living that we factor into our joint household budget much like electricity and weekly food shop.

7. Talk through and agree finances with your partner. Getting the monthly budgeting sorted is essential.

There just has to be some $funds available for your own reward and pleasure, no matter how small.

8. Being in control 

For me this means smiley happy people at home, having a  100% capable and reliable nanny/afterschool care, having a hands-on partner, being home in time for book, bath, bed routine, having food in the fridge, having some real down-time, keeping up personal exercise and social calendar and completing major work projects well.

9. It’s about quality time not quantity time for myself and for the family

I’m definitely a happier mum and a happier partner for working part time. The girls understand that I will attend the really important school dates but not every school event – there are a lot! They’re fine with that. It also means that after four days at home, I’m rearing to get into the office. Thursdays are date night when I meet up with my partner after work (Like we did in the good old days) for an adult discussion, a drink and dinner.  And you just can’t beat a Friday at the beach with a book and coffee!


Do these tips help you?  Do you have any others?  Don’t forget to vote in our poll!

13 responses to “Part time work. Juliet’s story

  1. We decided eight days between us works. We used to do four each, when I went back full time for a good job he cut back to three. He loves it! And there’s nothing better than coming home after a busy day to a meal and a happy family, rather than crazy day care pickup.

  2. This is much like my experience and how I am managing my situation. I am actually back full time now (working one day from home, so I get a bit of extra time in the morning, lunch and evening) and my husband works 3 days a week. It’s working well and everyone is happy, and that is the goal. Shocked by what the recruiter said to you. Seems a bit discriminatory and short sighted i.e. stupid. Let me guess, she didn’t have kids…?

  3. I’m shocked by the recruiter story too. Sadly not surprised unfortunately. I’ve heard it a lot from friends with senior jobs in their pre kids days. But talking about it is the first step to change! Thanks for sharing your stories Jackie and Iris. I really like the idea of eight days between you. Got me thinking…

  4. I really valued this part-time work advice. It’s exactly the situations i face. As a mum trying to crack part time work i feel i don’t have much in common with full time working mums OR mums who don’t work and started to feel kirsten that your site wasn’t for me. So it was great to see this piece! More! More! Particularly tips from mum’s who’ve made a success of part time work from home. I tried to go down three-day a week external work but wasn’t right for me yet. Made all those mistakes re jumping at wrong job bcs it was A JOB and agreeing to too many days when it was too much. I am now trying freelance writing work from home. I have two kid free days in which to write and they go too fast once you take into account school and daycare drop offs and pick ups. So i am learning slowly how to try and fit all planning and scheduling in at nights and days with kids at home, which means telephone calls with kids around and late nights when all you want to do is cark it. Any advice in this regard wd be welcome. Tks again! Nice to know other in same boat coming up against same issues.

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  9. Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and
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