The Professional Part-time Working Mom Approach to Career
Work-life balance is a hot topic these days. With everything that professionals are juggling, it’s no wonder that the conversation has finally started to drift towards how to manage it all. This seems to be even more the case as working moms are getting sandwiched between caring for their children and caring for aging parents.
Don’t Walk Away from your Career
What happens when you’ve had a career for years and don’t want to walk away from all you’ve accomplished, but want or need to spend more time with your child(ren)? You want to be the mom that you want to be, though. Are your only options full-time working mom (FTWM) or stay at home mom (SAHM)? What about an option where you can continue to focus on your career and be the mom you want to be? That doesn’t exist, though, does it?
Believe it or not, there is an option in the large area of grey between FTWM and SAHM. It happens to be my own career approach and that of more than 110 professional part-time working moms who I interviewed for my book, Mompowerment: Insights from Successful Professional Part-time Working Moms Who Balance Career and Family.
Part-time Working Moms Share Their Stories
You might be wondering who I interviewed? Who are these professional part-time working moms? I talked to moms in almost any industry you can imagine, such as marketing, technology, finance, social work, and even rocket science. The majority of moms work for a company, both big and small. I also interviewed entrepreneurs with a part-time approach to their business. And these women were located all over the US in their professional part-time roles. On average, they had 9-10 years of experience and had worked part time 4-5 years, so about 14-15 years of experience total working.
Why Work Part Time?
Most often the moms spoke about the benefit of getting more time with their families, which makes sense with the current quick-paced lifestyle of most working moms. When you think about it, FTWMs have limited family time in any given week. It’s a mad rush after work to pick up kids at daycare or from after-hours care, head home to get dinner ready, maybe get in homework, and then get kids ready for bed. And weekends are often spent catching up with all the things you don’t get to during the week – meal planning and prep, running errands, and taking care of household chores. And that’s on top of the usual weekend kids’ practices, competitions and activities.
Is Work-Life Balance Dead?
It’s all too much. When you think about all the things that working moms must juggle, it’s no wonder people say that work-life balance is dead. I will say that if you’re following a traditional approach to full-time work + life, then, yes, work-life balance is dead. Imagine trying to split your time 50/50 between work and family when you don’t leave the office until 5pm or later each week day. And it’s likely after 5pm because who only works 40 hours per week these days when you work full time? It’s not possible to have balance with that approach 5 days a week. If you look at a week, you might be able to reach a 50/50 split, but that would still be tough.“It's not going to make work-life balance easy. It will make it easier.” From #Mompowermentbook @Mompowerment Click To Tweet
Sounds Great, Now What?
So, what is a full-time working mom to do? If you want more work-life balance, part-time might be exactly what you’re looking for. Then again, it might not be. How do you know which it is? The first step is to uncover your motivation – your why (if you need help on this, check out my blog on this specifically). Understand why you want a change and then see if working part time can help you address that why. Take time to do some soul searching. Talk to your significant other and your tribe – your family, friends, colleagues. Engage a professional if you aren’t sure what options you have.
Have a conversation with your significant other. Start to look at how this change in your career approach will impact your family. Talk to your children if they’re old enough to have understand the change and can have constructive input. Start the conversations with your manager or senior leadership. If you realize that this is the time to start your own business, understand the questions you need to answer to make that change happen.
As you look at this alternative approach to your career approach, know that it’s not going to make work-life balance easy. It will make it easier, though. And it’s never going to be perfect. It is doable, though, and that is empowering.
Is a part-time approach the right one for you? Why or why not? If you’re already using this career model, what were the biggest changes you made in your work or life? What is the best part of working part time?
Suzanne Brown is a strategic marketing and business consultant, TEDx speaker, and author of Mompowerment: Insights from Successful Professional Part-time Working Moms Who Balance Career and Family, available on Amazon. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and active two young boys.
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