Moms, looking for flexible schedules? Check out these different types of flexible work arrangements you can actually do for your job.
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 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 several years ago, when I debated returning to work. I use the term “debated” lightly, since my husband and I relied on both our income, so there really wasn’t much to debate.
Still, I wondered if there was a chance I could still work, but not necessarily with my old 9-to-5 schedule. I wanted to spend enough time my baby where I wouldn’t feel terrible for missing out. But I also needed to earn income (and wanted to keep working 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 boiled down to that common factor I mentioned in the beginning. The common thread that usually determines whether a mom is happy, working or not. It’s this:
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?
Flexible work arrangements you can actually do
I’m only familiar with your typical 9-to-5 office environment, and these ideas reflect that. I realize that not all jobs are conducive to flex time, or that you may find even more flexibility based on what you do.
That said, for the standard Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 folks, take a look at some of these ideas you can try. These will allow you to work, whether full- or part-time, while still giving you an opportunity to be with your kids.
Hopefully you’ll find an idea that can work for you:
1. Work part time
One simple way to both work and be with your kids is to work part time. Take a look at your income needs—you might be able to work less and still earn the money you need.
And remember, part-time doesn’t have to literally mean half the hours you typically worked. You could reduce your hours all the way to 20, or, like me, by just one full day. Rather than working 40 hours, my time added up to 32 hours over the week.
Some other examples of part time work include:
- Working four days a week (Monday through Thursday)
- Working half day every day (from 8am to 12pm)
- Leaving every day a few hours earlier (from 9am to 3pm)
- Arriving to work a few hours later every day (from 11am to 5pm)
- Job share with another part-time employee
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2. Work from home
When you work from home, you’re doing the work you’d do in the office but from home. Since the pandemic, many of us have experienced remote work in one way or another. This has paved the way for companies and organizations to accommodate work-from-home situations.
Some other examples include working from home…
- In the evenings: Let’s say you need to leave work by 4pm to pick up your child from daycare. You can wrap up work at the office by 4pm, pick up your child, then finish your work in the evenings after he’s in bed.
- One day (or more) a week: You could come into the office Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Work from home completely. Depending on your work, you can find or request an arrangement that allows you to work remotely 100%.
3. 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 come in and work later as well.
When I worked in an office, I would arrive early in the morning and leave by mid-afternoon. This allowed 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.
Some parents might even have a “graveyard shift” type of job, where your work needs you at odd hours (hospital staff, for instance).
If so, you can tag-team with your partner or another adult so that you’re with the kids during the day. Then, while you’re working at night—say, 4pm to midnight—they can be with another adult.
4. Work four 10-hour days
One way to enjoy a day off while still earning a full-time income is to condense your 40 hours in four days. For instance, you would work Mondays through Thursdays, from 7am to 5pm. But then you would get Fridays completely off.
Your days would be longer, but you’d have one day a week besides the weekends all to yourself, while still earning your same income.
5. Freelance or consult
One big change you can make is to go from being an employee to freelancing or consulting. You could freelance for your current company, or find your own clients.
You’d no longer be an employee, so you would lose the benefits you’d received from your company. But as a freelancer, you can work your own hours on your own time.
6. Have your own business
Lastly, one possibility for working while still being with your family is to have your own business. I took this leap five years ago and never looked back. I’ve been able to earn income from home while being home with my kids after school.
That said, some small businesses can still require more of your time than a typical 9-to-5 job. But as the person who owns the business, you can set your own hours easier than if you worked for someone else.
So, even if you’re not able to be with the kids every day after school, you can still take time off every week to volunteer in the classroom, for instance.
Of course, this isn’t something you do overnight, but it can still be a possibility at some point in your career.
Being able to work a flexible arrangement has allowed me and many parents to both earn income while still being with their kids. And it’s this flexibility that gives us more fulfillment and balance than feeling pulled from either side.
Thankfully, there are many options you can consider. You can reduce your hours by working part time or job sharing with another employee. Work from home, whether a few days or completely. Shift your schedule earlier or later, or consolidate your work hours to four days.
You might even consider freelancing or consulting, or even starting your own business, allowing you to set your own hours.
I’ve since learned that it’s not just about working or being a stay-at-home mom, but the flexibility that allows us to experience a bit of both.
Get more tips:
- How to Spend Time with the Baby When You Work Long Hours
- The “How Do You Do It” Working Moms Guide
- 6 Ways to Stop Feeling Like an Overwhelmed Mom
- 7 Reasons You’re Doing Fine as a Mom
- Want to Be an Organized Mom? 3 Tips That Will Actually Help You!
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