Looking for flexible work arrangements? Check out these 12 different types of flexible schedules to see if one will work for you.
Ask most moms what makes them happy with their decision to work not, and you’ll find a common factor. Surprisingly, it’s not whether they work (“I love working and contributing in ways other than being a mom”) or not (“I love being with my kids during the day”). It’s something else.
Let’s backtrack six years ago, when I debated returning to work. I use the term “debated” lightly, since my husband and I rely on both our income. Still, I wondered if I had to go back to work with my old schedule. I wanted to spend enough time my eldest where I wouldn’t feel terrible for missing out. But I also wanted to carve some hours for myself (and earn money as well).
So my boss and I came up with a flexible work arrangement that included working from home and reduced hours.
The difference was noticeable. I was able to both be with my son and at work without feeling overloaded from either camp. And it boils down to that common factor I mentioned in the beginning. The common thread that usually determines whether a mom is happy, working or not.
We feel better equipped to balance work and life when we have the flexibility to accommodate both. One of the best ways to find that balance is through flexible work arrangements. I’ve talked about the impact of flexibility, and even shared tips on how to ask for a flexible work schedule.
But what exactly are some types of flexible work arrangements?
I’m only familiar with your typical 9-to-5 office environment, and my ideas reflect that. If you have a flexible work arrangement that doesn’t fit this mold, please share them in the comments. That said, here are sample flexible work schedules to consider.
Flexible work arrangements:
Work from home
When you work from home, you’re doing the work you’d do in the office but from home. You can…
- Work from home in the evenings: Let’s say you need to leave work by 4pm to pick up your child from day care. You can finish your work by 4pm, pick up your child, then finish your work in the evenings after he’s in bed.
- Work from home one day (or more) a week: One of the flex schedules I’ve had was to work one day a week from home.
- Work from home completely. Depending on your work, you can find or request an arrangement that allows you to work remotely 100%.
Shift your schedule earlier or later
Many people—parents or not—have a shifted schedule to avoid traffic. You can work either earlier in the day so you can leave early. Or you can come in and work later as well.
Right now, I work earlier and leave earlier in the day. This allows me to pick up my kids from school and be with them in the afternoons. You’d need to coordinate with someone, in my case my husband, to handle mornings.
Work part time
With my eldest, I reduced my hours so I could have one full day not working at all. You could reduce your hours all the way to 20 or whichever you feel gives you the best balance. Some examples of part time work include:
- Working four days a week
- Working half day every day
- Leaving every day a few hours earlier
- Arriving to work every day a few hours later
Work odd hours
I know parents who work a “graveyard shift” so their kids would always have a parent with them. Some jobs need folks round the clock, so you might work 4pm to midnight, for instance.
A version of part time, you and another employee would share the same duties and split one full time job. For instance, you’d come in Monday to Wednesday and she’d come in Thursday and Friday. Or you’d come in 9 to 1 and she’d come in 1 to 5. To the company, the same work gets done, just split between two people.
Work four 10-hour days
Another way to enjoy a day off while still earning a full-time income is to condense your 40 hours in four days. Your days would be longer, but you’d have one day a week besides the weekends all to yourself.
Freelance or consult
And still another option is to freelance or consult for your company (and/or others). You’d no longer be an employee but a freelancer or consultant working your own hours. You’d lose benefits, but you’d work on your own time. You can either work completely from home or come in to the office when needed.
Throughout six years, my flexible work arrangements have changed to accommodate work and home. But no matter what, it’s flexibility that gives me the balance I need so I don’t feel consumed from either side.
Get more tips on being a working mom:
- How to Ask for a Child-Friendly, Flexible Work Schedule
- 7 Reasons You’re Doing Fine as a Mom
- Raising Children on a Tight Budget
- First Day Back after Maternity Leave — Does It Get Better?
Tell me in the comments: Have you worked a flexible work arrangement? If so, in what work environment? What suggestions do you have for moms looking for flexible schedules?
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