Do most working moms really want to work part-time and is part-time work as great as it might seem?

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk, Working Women Issues


woman-in-suit-with-bottle-and-briefcase.jpgThis weekend we went to visit our friends in New York. (I will spare you from any whining in this post about how much I miss New York. I promise. But I do, a lot.) Invariably we got into a conversation about work and how we all work too much, are sleep-deprived, don’t see our kids enough, don’t go on enough vacations, and so on. You know, the usual working families discussion fare. And then the mom said something I think so many of us can relate to: ” I like to work, I like what I do, but I just want to be able to do less of it — to work less than full-time.”

I certainly fee this way. I’ve always worked full-time and in my previous career in investing, full-time meant more than 8 hours a day. I’m pretty open on this blog about the fact that running Work It, Mom! involves working around the clock and usually putting in 10-12 hour days. I rarely complain because I LOVE what I do and I feel lucky to have the opportunity do create something that I think benefits other women. But I am exhausted and sleep deprived (which is starting to affect my health), I don’t see my daughter, my husband, or my family and friends as much as I’d like and I’d love to work less.

The thing is, I can’t. I can’t do what I do and do less of it — it’s the nature of a start-up for the founders to work this hard (or even harder). In my previous job I could not work less and no one in that industry works part-time. (There was a woman in my firm who asked to work 4 days a week after having twins. They let her, for about four months, after they made life so difficult for her that she quit.) My friend whom we visited this weekend can’t do her job part-time either. And I wonder how many of the almost 80% of working mothers who say they want to work less than full-time can actually make it happen.

I am not a career expert, but I do believe that there are some jobs that can’t be done part-time. You can’t be a part-time CEO, you can’t be a part-time company founder, you can’t work part-time in industries that require full-time presence and continuity of work. I have a friend who runs a company that helps create job shares — where two people share one job, therefore each working part-time. I think in many ways it’s an ideal solution because it creates an opportunity for two people to have a good job on a part-time schedule. But job sharing is not widespread and it has its own challenges. (For example, what happens when the two people sharing a job have conflicting ideas about something that’s to be done? This creates tension and angst for them and the employer, making this a more complex — and therefore less desirable — arrangement than just having one person do the work.) I hope that my friend and many others like her can help educate employers and employees about job sharing so that it can be a real in the future, but to be honest, I think this will take a while.

Part-time work is not without it’s issues, of course. Many part-timers say they end up working almost full-time for less pay. Some have to forgo health and other benefits when they work part-time, which creates its own set of issues. And many part-timers don’t get the same level of respect from colleagues when they work part-time. An option many of us want might not be as great as we think.

I look forward to hearing your comments on this topic: Do you wish you could work part-time? Can your job be done part-time? Do you work part-time and feel it’s not as great as it might seem? Do you think more part-time work will become available as more workers, including men and women, focus on work-life balance?

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65 comments so far...

  • Great topic, Nataly. Well, since you asked, here’s my perspective: I work part-time from home. I decided it was important for my sanity after seeing how full-time working moms live at my previous jobs! The thing is: it’s a personal thing. I wish I was a full-time corporate-type with a high prestige job, great salary and benefits, etc. But I don’t have the energy to pursue it. :) I’d rather live a quieter life, and that means working part-time for a lot less money and status. Yes, it gets to me at times. But I enjoy having a low-pressure schedule. Maybe as my daughter grows, things will change. Also, who knows what will come along? I’m pretty open-minded about the future.

    I think we are seeing a huge jump in part-time opportunities for men and women, especially in Web-based media. But I honestly don’t think these jobs will ever be high-status or highly-paid. I guess it’s a trade-off. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit concerned about the career choices I’ve made, however.

    Diane  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 10:46 am

  • I actually am fortunate to have a state government position where they let me work part-time. The flexibility is great except that over the years it has turned into my squeezing full time work into part time hours. So it does leave me a bit more stressed and rushed when I am at work. Also, taking off for a vacation or a sick child gets sticky because then I’m out of the office more. There are also colleagues who resent my part time status. Sometimes I’d like to remind them that I am also earning a part-time salary now, not full time.

    Sharon  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 11:02 am

  • I’ve found many part time jobs pay a lower hourly rate than full time so you need to work more hours to get the pay you need. Plus I need to work nearly 2 weeks a month to make enough to cover benefits, taxes, 401k, and daycare. If I drop to part time some companies offer benefits but not all. It just hardly seems worth it.

    Someone Being Me  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 11:07 am

  • I like to work, and I find that I accomplish more when I am working full time. I think it would be difficult to find a part-time position that fulfilled me on a professional level. Those jobs tend to be more clerical in nature.

    I also don’t think I would be good at job-sharing. I am a team player, but I would not feel comfortable depending on another person completing a shared project. And in that same vein, what if I screwed up and it had a negative affect on my partner.

    Very interesting topic.

    Judi/Sister Honey Bunch  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 11:09 am

  • i work 30 hours a week down from 40. the bosses offered to bring me back up from 30 and i declined. 30 seems like a good number - i’m here enough to matter but i still get home in time to cook something for supper. or take my kid to the park. or go by the bank. whatever.
    when the cut was made i was adamant that i would NOT be cramming 40 hours into my new 30 hour schedule. i helped this process along by not answering (or even checking) work email off-hours and by setting limits when i interact with people in terms of meetings and projects. just because they work 40 hours doesn’t mean i do too!
    my benefits cost more - but my rate of pay is the same. plus on weeks i might put in my 30 hours in three days i get the rest of the week off.
    it’s been good for me - keeps me in my game while giving me a blessed few extra hours to play.

    stacy  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 1:36 pm

  • In my experience the only benefit of working “part time” is a slight increase in flexibility (n small thing for a parent, admittedly). Otherwise, I think it’s harder. Certainly, I’ve worked just as hard at “part time” jobs as full time. Moreover, it’s much harder working without a regular routine than with one, and even the “flexibility” part may be a bit mythical as usually I’m running frantically around playing catch-up with whatever job-free hours I can manage.

    AND (of course) there is the pay (I usually work a lot more hours than I feel justified billing for as a “part-timer”… how about you?) and the issue of benefits, which are routinely denied “part-timers” and which generally are calculated as a 30-40% mark-up or value-add to the salary earned by someone with full benefits.

    almostgotit  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 1:51 pm

  • great topic! yes, in theory i would LOVE to work part time! And i actually think i could do most of my actual ‘work’ during that time frame - what’s tough is that everyone else is working full time and they get annoyed that they can’t get a response from you after a certain time of day or day of the week or whatever. Plus, schedules are crazy enough much less trying to schedule a meeting around someone who is only available during xyz hours on specific days. however, there are some positions where this is fine and where job sharing can be a huge help! however, like others have said - to have any kind of career growth, part time work just isnt realistic unless the entire company works part time!

    maybe after you make your millions from WIM, you can start work on the part-time company and the philosophy will be - “we do more in a 20 hour work week than you do all month!” hehehe

    Kate  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 2:44 pm

  • also - the reality is that if i got the same pay/benifits/career advantages and only worked 20hours a week? of COURSE i would do that! then i could spend the other 20 hours cleaning, going back to school, get involved with my community, etc. oh yes of course, and see my family ;)

    Kate  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 2:46 pm

  • Great topic- you know how I feel. I couldn’t make part time WORK. I didn’t get benefits, got paid less and didn’t feel like I could get career advancement. Sometimes it can work, but not in my consulting industry. I was much happier when I realized that it wasn’t working for me.

    selfmademom  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 2:53 pm

  • This topic comes up a lot at my work. there are some people that work part time & some that used to work part time but noq came back full time. If I had a dollar for every time that i said, “I wish I could work part time” then I wouldn’t have to work full time!! Financially, we can’t swing cutting my hours & pay, so until we hit the lottery, then here I am working full time (and missing the time that I could be spending with my daughter).

    Melissa Parlaman (Graco contributor)  |  March 3rd, 2008 at 9:44 pm

  • As someone who works part time (mostly) I love it but there are days I wish I was full time, if only to keep me occupied with things outside of the house instead of children, husband, pets, cooking, cleaning, etc. I can’t justify paying someone else to cook or clean b/c I’m here anyway and don’t have all of the work it would take to come up with 40 hours. And, on that note, I couldn’t possibly voice for 40 hours a week without some considerable strain!

    Nataly, you make a great point about the lack of respect. Not only do I have a non-traditional job but I work from home while taking care of my kids almost exclusively. I get a lot of mixed reactions to this including that I must make a fortune or that I’m not really working at all.

    Mandy  |  March 4th, 2008 at 3:03 pm

  • I just found this web site and this topic is very interesting to me. I have always worked part time (20 to 30 hr wks) and I find it the most comfortable for me. I get to work and feel competent and capable, using my training and interacting with ‘real’ adults, and I also get to spend 2 days a week to interact with my younger two children, cook a decent dinner, get to the bank, develop pictures… I think in this world where we moms are always asked to “do it all”, this enables me to -sort of- feel as if I can. It is certainly not without its stresses. There are times when I feel I don’t do either job (work or Mommy-ing) well, but I think I would probably have those days regardless of my working situation. The comment someone made in another posting about lack of respect does have some merits, though. I am a doctor and my business partner is a male who shares my office part time and then has another on his own. He works 60 hr weeks, makes a lot of money; I know there are times when he definitely doesn’t think that I “really” work.

    Lauren  |  March 4th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

  • Greetings! I work both full time and part time! I’ve always worked full time and when my kids were younger it really bothered me. I missed being with them, and felt like I was missing out on raising them. The way I handled it was by involving them in the house chores, errands, etc. when possible. If we had to clean the house, we’d have our music on and dance while we worked. Or if we had to go grocery shopping, we’d stop and play at the park for a few minutes too. And we always got our reading time and our “special time” in before bed. It made for long nights and early mornings for me (trying to get it all done), but my kids and I spent a lot of time together and we are very close.

    My kids are now teenagers and pre-teen and I am also working part time. I make my own hours, working for a childrens toy and book company run by two mothers committed to celebrating the whole child. Their products and books model real life virtues in a make-believe world and I find this work very gratifying. While my kids do their schoolwork, I do mine!

    BlapherMJ  |  March 4th, 2008 at 10:47 pm

  • Hi Nataly-

    I do think you can be a founder and/or CEO of a company and work less hours. I am one of those who believes anything is possible though! There is an interesting book called the Millionaire Course by Mark Allen. He basically set up a very successful publishing company working part time. It is my goal to build my business in a way that I can work part time. So far, so good- I’ll keep you posted! :)

    Meri  |  March 5th, 2008 at 5:06 pm

  • Hello :)

    I really wish I could work part-time, but I have a special needs child that requires my salary and my husband’s. The unfortunate part is the time I am losing trying to prepare my son to be self-sufficient one day. I can’t get that time back. I am tired both emotionally and physically and hope that one day that high-paying, part-time job many of us dream of will come along.

    NdABrk  |  March 7th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

  • I was able to start working three days a week after the birth of my son. I am a software developer and it has worked out pretty well, although I still seem to have the same amount of work to do but just less time to do it. I do feel that some of my co-workers feel that I am on a sub-tier now. However, those annoyances are worth it to be able to spend quality time with my son. I was able to make the transition to part-time because I work for a small family-based company. I have seen a lot of my friends leave their careers entirely but with some regrets so I definitely think that more women would make this choice if it was available. No, it is definitely not perfect but I feel that the difficulties are well worth the extra time I get to spend with my son and the more balanced feel I have to my life in general.

    Pumpkins Mom  |  March 12th, 2008 at 4:15 pm

  • I am struggling to get a part-time job. I guess that is waht is keeping a contract from a job that I was offered from coming in the door :(
    God knows I would be SO greatfull for working part time that I would be a great asset to the company in the long term. I also feel I have “earned” my part time by working my tushy off the last 7 years in the same company when I didnt have kids…

    Well…lets see what happens, I still keep trying to have faith in the corporate world - but if the contract doesnt come in soon I think I have to be open to the possibility that part time is just not welcome in the private sector and that I have to switch professions :(

    All the years of doing a bachelor, a master, certifications, management trainee programs, etc…where are they going to go to? I am really worried.

    Well girls, there is a good book called “Managing your Career” from Harvard Business Review. It has an article of Part time work, quite good. If you want to discuss it, let me know.


    Gaby  |  March 14th, 2008 at 1:42 pm

  • It can be hard and somewhat adventurous, but many moms I know have created their own opportunities!

    I have a flex job and many people at my office don’t realize it (we had a huge hiring frenzy a year or so after I started). They think I just skate in and out each day. The truth is that I get pretty much everything done in 6 hrs and I bet they do too. I definitely feel some resentment from some of the people in the office and I do care about it…..but not that much. It feels good to pick up my kids from school each day and I dread when other people’s inefficiencies at work hold not just me but my whole family up.

    Overall, I really appreciate that I have one of the few flex jobs at my office, and I regularly take the time to thank my boss and HR person often for this opportunity. I acknowledge that this is a rare thing….HOWEVER, I think that when we live in a time when both women and men have flex job opportunities available, you will see an unprecedented increase in worker productivity and job loyalty. Allow people to contribute the most productive, creative moments in their day and they will!

    flexmomforchange  |  March 21st, 2008 at 12:07 am

  • I work part time, and the only thing part time about my job is my salary. In exchange for getting to be at home with my kids two days a week I had to give up any chance of a promotion or competive salary increase. (My annualized salary is 10k below others doing the same work in my office) Where I currently work, you have to pretend you are not part time so they don’t get frustrated with you, including checking e-mail, voicemail and taking calls on the days when you are ‘home’. I really hate working part time, but I feel like I should love it because it seems like the ideal situation. I never feel like I am doing a good job at home or at work.

    Part Time Employee and Mom  |  March 30th, 2008 at 8:26 pm

  • I reduced my hours from full time to 25 hours a weeks. Works great for me.

    Liza's Eyeview  |  April 13th, 2008 at 6:33 pm

  • I currently work 30 hours per week (spread over 4 days) as Director of Finance & Administration for a small technology company (less than 15 employees). I started out as a part-time contractor, proved my worth and was able to negotiate a pro-rated salary with full benefits. I see it as a win-win situation for both my employer and me. In exchange for their flexibility and fair pay, I am willing to check e-mail and receive phone calls on my day off. My boss is great about not taking advantage of my accessibility. I think part-time work is more feasible at a smaller company, such as mine, where they don’t necessarily need a full-time resource.

    Job shares would seem to make more sense in a larger company. If one of the job sharers quits, at least the company doesn’t lose 100% of the knowledge. The cost to replace an employee is very expensive in terms of recruiting costs and lost productivity. These are things that companies don’t always consider.

    Baby boomers are starting to retire. There aren’t enough full-time Gen Xers to replace them. Additionally, the Millenials that are now entering the workforce aren’t willing to sacrifice their personal lives and will leave a company if they don’t feel like they are getting what they “deserve”. Consequently, companies are going to face a “human capital” shortage and will hopefully be forced to make flexible work arrangements (such as job shares and part-time work with benefits) a choice.

    Tricia  |  April 17th, 2008 at 1:42 pm

  • Working part time at home or out and about I think is needed. The social contact is what we women need. My passion is ( my own at home business) but I do consulting work as a compuuter tech as well. The benefits are priceless!! So I say yes to part time work. As long as it does not disturb the family balance.
    I like getting out and about and meeting new people. How about you?

    Linda B  |  May 12th, 2008 at 5:15 pm

  • This is a great topic. I already get crap because I only work Monday-Friday at my job and I’m off early enough to pick up my son from daycare. The guys at my office work 6-7 days a week and work late. See, i work for a top producing real estate agent. I process all of his closings and have a license to sell property as well. When I sell property, he gets a cut of it. So he wants me to be out showing property as much as possible after my normal hours that he pays me for. However, those are also the same hours that my son is out of daycare. I tried showing property with my son but the last two times he became hysterical wanting to go home. Plus he weighs a ton and the entire experience has nearly brought me to tears each time so I have now told him that I can no longer do this. It has to be during my work hours. I have gone out with people on weekends but I am also exhausted and would like to spend time with my family on weekends. Everytime I come back to work on Mondays and even so much as mention that I took my son to the playground at the mall or anything, everyone acts like I’m so priveledged with so much time to goof off while they all were working. I work hard, I get my job done and yet I still get crap for it. I can’t even imagine what would happen if I worked part-time.

    I just found out that my sister-in-law is leaving her job for this reason. Although she does her job very well and completes it, her co-workers all work into the night and on weekends both of which she has no desire to do so she chose to leave. When she resigned, they told her that it was for the best as she doesn’t seem to enjoy putting in the long hours that everyone else does. What is this country coming to? All work and no time off? It’s very, very sad.

    Oceans Mom  |  May 19th, 2008 at 9:29 am

  • Working part time is just like working full time in that you must set limits in order to have a proper work life balance. In my job, it works out well because I’m paid hourly. If I work 40 hours per week I make a ton of money. I average about 24. Sadly, it’s not the type of job I can do from home, or with my son, so I pay through the nose for a good preschool.

    A salaried part time job always seemed a little dangerous to me. That’s why I left my last job, rather than negotiate part time. I want to be paid for the hours I work. I want to take off on vacation whenever I want, and I do not want to be on crisis watch all the time.

    I’m eternally grateful for the job I have, even on bad days. It is hard having one foot in each world sometimes - the mommy world and the working world, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    For those of you who think all part time does is offer more flexibilty and a cut in pay, I would strongly disagree. It could certainly get that way if you let it - it requires a lot of discipline to shut off the blackberry and email. I find that when I bill my employer for answering his mail, the off hours emails slow down. : )

    Good luck to everyone!

    jlauren  |  May 21st, 2008 at 2:33 pm

  • I work part-time and am so grateful for it. After a year of maternity leave, (I live in Canada) I came back to work full-time and after that nearly killing me, I asked to be cut to four days a week. My employer was great and said no problem.

    The cut in pay was a bit shocking at first, but once I got used to that, it was great. I truly believe we all live within our means. That being said, it’s tough at times, but to me it’s worth it.

    Now my two children will be in school full-time come September and I’ll get a whole day a week to myself!

    I highly recommend working four days a week if possible. Life is short and to me, time is more important than money.

    Marcie  |  June 18th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

  • Definitions are very important here. People tend to lump all sorts of non-traditional work arrangements into the “part time” label. When people tell me they want to work part time, the first thing I say to them is “Define part time”.

    Sometimes, they would actually be okay working the equivalent of a full time job as long as some of the hours could be done at home late at night or at other family downtimes during the day. Distinguish for yourself (and for your employer) what pieces of the job require an on site presence during traditional office hours and what can be done remotely or at odd hours.

    And when figuring out compensation for part time, determine what the full time equivalent position would pay and pro-rate that salary for the number of part time hours worked, whether in or out of the office and whether during traditional or non-traditional office hours.

    Carol Fishman Cohen  |  June 23rd, 2008 at 3:58 pm

  • I worked in a job where I thought it was impossible to work part time. My job is deadline driven, unpredictable, client service oriented and I manage a large team. By the time my son was 1, my health began to suffer so I decided to quit and planned to do consulting. My boss asked me to stay and said she’d make any accomodations I wanted (it helps that she is a single mom). So I cut back to 32 hours a week, which may not sound like part time, but it did to me since I had been working 50-60 hours. On some level, I am still always on bc I have to check my blackberry constantly. But oddly, I found that I can pretty much manage the same workload in fewer hours because I’m not sleep deprived and feel sharper mentally. I work 28 hours in the office and 4 flex hours. Since most salaried part time people end up working more than their scheduled hours, I built in the flex hours to cover the time I spend at home on email. If I work more than 32 hours, I take comp time when I things are slowe. I did that to avoid the financial incentive to work more hours.

    Dee Anna  |  June 23rd, 2008 at 9:56 pm

  • Hmmm….very interesting subject. I personally would like to work full-time on a “part-time” basis. I love to work, - absolutely love it, provided I am doing something that is consistently challenging me mentally, and is something I enjoy. On the other hand, I the freedom of being able to walk away for a while when I’ve had enough, knowing that I can come back to it once I’ve got my bearings again.
    So, yes, I’d rather work full-time, but only when I want to and it fits into my family life.
    That’s probably why working from home suits me so well. I am able to work long hours if the need really arises, however no one is standing over my shoulder looking at their watch when I decide to take a break for lunch, or to just chill out. Besides, where else can you get up in the middle of the night and work when you can’t sleep?

    naturalsoycandles  |  July 10th, 2008 at 1:56 pm

  • I worked part-time for four years at my company. I worked 3 days a week but it meant taking on projects that weren’t in my field and I didn’t really like. Now I’m working full-time and back in my field but I miss the extra time I had with my son, plus I just had another baby and am wondering how I’m going to juggle working full-time with 2 kids. I’m still on maternity leave right now.

    Diane M  |  July 12th, 2008 at 10:24 pm

  • This is a great subject and one I can relate to. I do work FT in Corporate America, which is 40+ hour per week. But I’m also pursuing my home business dream. I love Network Marketing and plan to leave Corp. America within the next two years. There is sacrifice along the way, but I do believe that Network Marketing will bring me financial freedom along with time freedom.

    It all about setting a goal and taking action to achieve it.

    Lisa Willard  |  July 21st, 2008 at 10:28 am

  • This is such a big issue for moms. I, for one, would LOVE a part-time job. I know that if and when I do start working outside the home for 40 hours a week, I am going to miss out on so much. It makes my heart ache, because right now I love being the one who sees Nick’s first moments. But I know I cannot (read: don’t want to) stay home forever. However, when I try to look for jobs that will use my talents, education and experience, I find that there are NONE that are part-time. It’s a sad situation, because I think this is one main reason that women have such a hard time moving up the career ladder - we are less willing to give up time with our families.

    Sandy  |  July 22nd, 2008 at 9:12 pm

  • I do believe that the future reality is that part-time will happen and it will be respected as a part of the job process. Very progressive companies already have VPs who work part-time. I absolutely think it can happen, but it takes a culture shift, and one that I believe that Gen Y will force us to make happen (too bad I’m Gen X and need it NOW). I for one was outright told I’d be passed over for interesting opportunities, but I see the national and global market trends, and they point to part-time as the future of an person’s career lifecycle.

    Tanya  |  July 29th, 2008 at 4:52 pm

  • Hi! I read this topic some time ago - when I was looking into a part time profession. I got one!! I tried to establish a routine, but I was extremely stressed trying to keep the boundaries. So, I decided to be more flexible, and log every day all the hours I work more…hopefully, I can take a whole week of in a month or two with all the extra hours I am putting in after the children go to bed, and then spend that week with my children. So maybe its not part time on a daily basis, but has more holidays…

    Gaby  |  July 30th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

  • I would love to work part time for the same pay, of course! However, one of my good friends works part time and it sounds worse. She said that she ends up just working 24/7 between the house, the kids, the husband and her job. She gets stuck with absolutely everything because he figures that she doesn’t work as much as he does so she should do everything. She is absolutely miserable. So it made me rethink this strategy.

    Ocean's Mom  |  August 11th, 2008 at 2:58 pm

  • I recently switched from FT to PT (last October). –My set up is better than part time because it is a partial job share position. We are a supervisory team, but we have separate reports. We back each other up only. We have pretty separate functions beyond supervising unless we have a customer we are helping and unless we are hiring someone (these functions we share). I was quite surprized to find out that being home more often did not help the house stay cleaner or get me exercising or get us super-healthy meals to the table. I had grand plans and have found that working part-time and being home with twin 3year olds has just as much chaos as working full time with an hour commute. I am very satisfied with my life situation and my kids really, really needed me home more. Ever so slowly the house is getting cleaner, but I’m doubtful that is PT related and am just lucky to have really solid nappers. I am taking care of the bills instead of my Hubby, so hopefully that helps (he is the dish-king though still!)
    I’ll never give it up though: It is nice to be home and I don’t feel like I have to be with my kids all the time now–I’d hire a sitter now, but when I was working full time all I wanted was more time in Mom role.

    Donna  |  August 17th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

  • I feel so grateful to have a wonderful home business that allows me to work when I want to work and be in control of my life without a boss or alarm clock..I have the flexibility to work full time one week or part time another.. whatever suits me and my family is what i’s so sad that we have all been programmed to the 40 hours a week for 40 years rule..there are so many wonderful opportunities out there today that you can mold to suit your life..explore your options and take risks..Life is way too short to live by other’s rules…


    Jessica  |  September 29th, 2008 at 9:57 pm

  • I think that it can be very difficult to balance work and child rearing. When seeking employment, ask other people within the company that are mothers how they handle the balance. If they say the employer is flexible, that is a pretty good indication that working there will be ok.

    Pregnant Mom  |  October 21st, 2008 at 11:45 am

  • I have worked f/t since turning 18. Even during college. I am now 40, married with a 5 y.o. who just started kindergarten. Prior to kindergarten, he was in day care consistently from 6 weeks old. During these past five years I never ever felt like I was making my family the priority and I never ever felt like I was “doing right” by my son. I am cutting my hours and will be, in very short order, home in time to pick up my son from school and be a stay at home mom-in the afternoon! I am fortunate because I do not move from job to job and have been working for my current employer for the last 10 years. When the time came to cut my hours we were able to negotiate a satisfactory arrangement that allows me to keep health care benefits. I am taking a cut in pay but consider that a small sacrifice. Honestly I do not give much thought to the “respect” issue. I’ve put in my time, and then some. I am after something I had while growing up-a sense of security from a stable family and stay at home mom. I want that for my son, because he needs and deserves it.

    BeccaM  |  October 29th, 2008 at 8:32 pm

  • I currently work 3/4 time. After 8 years as a freelance writer, I went back to work 1/2 time, 20 hours/week. That was ideal. The workload — and my need for income — grew, so after 2 years, I moved to 3/4 time. And now I’m looking at possible full time work again, which I don’t really want to do. But again, workload and income needs will likely prevail.

    As a working mom, I can say that 20 hours is ideal for me. I can serve home and work well at that level. Working more than that compromises quality in both places.

    Amy  |  January 25th, 2009 at 5:50 am

  • I personally have no interest in working part-time. I love what I do (I work for myself) and am quite content working about 50 hours per week — which is roughly what I feel I need to put in to stay on top of things.

    I also don’t think working part-time would give me much more personal or family time. Here’s the reasoning. There are 168 hours in a week. If you sleep 8 hours a night, that leaves 112 for other things. If you work 40 hours a week, you have 72 hours for family and personal time. If you look at time diary studies, *no one*, stay-at-home parents included, spends that much time actually interacting with family members, or exercising or doing constructive leisure activities. I think 72 hours is plenty of time to do anything on your personal to-do list! If you work part-time, say 20 hours per week, you’ll have 92 personal hours per week. Do you really think that anything you’re not doing in 72 hours will magically start happening if you have 92 hours? To me, the key is not part time or full time hours, it’s having control of your time, so you can allocate those 72 hours where you wish, and in ways that work best for you and your family.

    Laura Vanderkam  |  March 27th, 2009 at 9:29 am

  • After I had my son (who is now a year old) I was able to cut back from full time to 3/4 time (in order to keep benefits). However, because I am salaried I have to be really careful that I don’t end up working full time for part time pay. Other than that I really value the flexibiltiy it has provided. I was able to work some of the time from home when my son was newborn, however, once he was mobile that option went out the window. I think my schedule would be perfect for someone with school-aged kids. I would be able to take kids to school and pick them up.

    Lindsey  |  April 23rd, 2009 at 11:38 am

  • When I had my first son, I took 6 months off and went back to work in a challenging computer programming position. Full time wasn’t 40 hours a week, it was 50+ with additional time weekly because I was on call 24/7. For 7 years I did the daycare/wrap around care then rush home for dinner and homework routine.

    When I had my second son, I couldn’t imagine running the course again. Especially since my husband’s career had advanced to the point that corporate obligations and travel prevent him from being available for pickups/dropoffs and sick calls (let alone school plays, midweek sport practices and band rehearsals). So we decided I should stay home.

    The adjustment was HUGE, but so worth it. Finanacially we took a hit, but we adjusted our lifestules and found simpler pleasures.

    After nearly 5 years of being home full time, I’m looking at sending my little one off to school and considering what to do with myself. My house would be cleaned within an inch of liveabilty and a hair of my sanity if I’m home all day with no little men to chase around. So part time (and truly part-time) sounds good to me.

    I have no problem with having less corporate status or compensation. I’m a mom, I wipe bottoms, fish toys out of the potty and wipe snoogies with my bare fingers. What’s most important to me is to raise my two beautiful boys and even when that feels unappreciated. My dying thought would NEVER be “I wish I’d written one more financial swap interface.” and now I know it won’t be “I wish I had been there for my boys.”

    So I don’t know if I’ll volunteer or work part time, but whatever I do, my priorities are upstairs getting ready for bed right now. So I’m off to tub duty.

    Kelly  |  April 28th, 2009 at 7:59 pm

  • I have been working part time on a 20 hours or less per week, teaching and tutoring in the college for the past 10 years, wacthing my two elder girls learning till Secondary school. Recently with addition of the youngest one at two, I am considering reducing the hours to 12 hours.

    It is tough packing your schedule into the grils school and activity schedule. Working part time does not really mean part time as you still need to complete all assignment and projects as the rest of the full time staff. It is just that you are at the office shorter hours than the others but all are still doing the job at the end of the day. However most full time staff viewed you with envy and animosity sometimes.

    As I am earning hourly rate, with the experience I earn a modest take home pay which is a small consolation for all the things missing from yourself.

    What do I missed? I miss the short tea break and the 1 hour lunch enjoyed by a full time staff but at the same time also I can do the yoga exercises at mmy own sweet time which the full time staff cannot afford to.

    I love being part time and would not give it up for the lack of the benefits missed being a full time.

    picksan  |  May 11th, 2009 at 2:20 am

  • I am definitely someone who loves the part-time work option. It’s the best of both worlds. I’m a substitute high school teacher. I’ve been working with this age group for 10 years and subbing for 5, since the birth of my first son. I homeschool him and the 3yr-old (and a nursing 6-month old) so this set up is the perfect combination for us. I work the days I want and don’t answer to anyone if I can’t come in. It gives me the time to stay home and educate my kids, and the much needed mental stimulation of a outside job. I do forgo medical benefits, but I’m on my husband’s policy so we’re good.

    M. Diaz  |  May 21st, 2009 at 9:46 am

  • I’m struggling with this right now. I am pregnant with my second child and am able to work pretty much 8 - 5p.m, but I find myself feeling guilty when I rush out the door at 5 p.m. to pick up my daughter from daycare. I also have some work some evenings for board meetings and events and some weekends for events. I’m not sure how to reconcile this in my mind. I’m tired of running all the time and I feel like I’m angry at someone for something all the time, because I’m so tired. When this new baby gets here, I fear it is just going to get worse, but I don’t know if our family can afford one part time salary and one full time salary. Plus I’m not sure if my position is able to be part time with being a supervisor of another person and volunteers.

    Muriel  |  July 26th, 2009 at 1:10 pm

  • I’ve been wishing lately that I worked part time so that I can have the best of both worlds…but I am a manager and I’m even afraid to ask to go down to even 80%. The great thing is that due to budget cuts, we are all being furloughed and have to take 2 upaid Fridays off a month. My coworkers are worried about the 10% pay cut, but I am secretly thrilled to even go down to 90% and have 2 weekdays a month. It’s not much, but it’ll be 2 special days. I also have a 4/10 summer schedule where I work 7am-6pm during June-Aug. I don’t see my baby at all in the morning and get home at 7pm. I’m lucky that my husband has a very flexible work culture so he takes our baby to daycare and picks up every day. M-Th is super tough because I’m exhausted from a 10 hour work day and I only get to see my baby for 2 hours at the most on those four days. I find myself trying to keep him up a bit longer so we can spend time together. Forget making a nice dinner… we eat whatever is quick to put together. BUT, having Fridays off is a real luxury. Ideally, I think working about 20 hours would be nice for me…but I didn’t even realize all the drawbacks like no benefits, less than ideal pay for a lot of work, etc… Perhaps when more women are running companies, we’ll get the family-friendly work place policies that will make all of our lives more sane… and if not in time for us, then for our daughters and granddaughters. We have to keep making progress.

    serena  |  July 31st, 2009 at 11:16 pm

  • I guess it’s all a question of “How much money do you really need and what’s really important to you?” Some people need to own a house, some people need to own a new car, some people need to send their kid to private school. Some people need to go on long and expensive vacations. Some people need to have designer clothing.

    Me? I consider myself extremely lucky. To have a fulfilled life I need to send my kid to college, have a dog, have a car that works, food to eat, a retirement plan and health insurance. I’ll go camping and shop at Kohls and JC Penney.. But guess what? I still have to work full time to do that ;-)

    Claudia  |  November 11th, 2009 at 3:32 pm

  • yes, I’ve chosen to work full-time and put my young-children in daycare because the craziness of jugging a flexible schedule and part-time work, or ‘working from home’ would end up being more work than a straight 40 hour week. I work in the animation industry, so it’s a unpredictable gig so the general philosophy is ‘work when you can get it and don’t complain’. Fortunately, it works out pretty well - and with the help of wonderful daycare providers, my husband and I are both able to work full time. However, finding any ‘balance’ is a constant struggle, and I still have to run out on my lunch hour and buy groceries, diapers and then often pick up something for dinner en route home. Crazy!
    Good post though, I love hearing how other moms work it!

    jerilyn  |  December 28th, 2009 at 9:59 pm

  • Hi,

    I really enjoyed reading the posts.

    I feel fortunate because I work independently for two different companies one from home, online (my bread and butter) and the second on my own schedule. The best part is the second job is something I can share with my children (books). They’re my quality advisors for all my new product choices and they’re revelling in the library they’ve created for themselves. It’s a good mix for us.

    my kids work with me!  |  January 26th, 2010 at 2:35 am

  • My husband & I have been talking about me going down to part time when my oldest starts kindergarten in 2 years. I want to be able to pick my boys up early & help them with their homework, bring them to whatever sporting event they have or just have dinner early enough so that we are not eating, bathing & sleeping within a 2hour window. I know it’s going to be rough since I am the one with the benefits which will go but I’m tired of feeling like a surrogate mom who had 2 amazing little boys for my daycare center.

    Tanii  |  June 25th, 2010 at 1:57 pm

  • I love that I can work part time. I feel like it allows me to still keep up my skills at work, but I have time to do fun things like playdates during the week and allow my kids to do afterschool activities and classes on my days off. Personally I enjoy being home four days a week and focusing on my kids and running the house, but I am able to bring in a good amount of income to our house by working three days a week. The closer I get to working around 20 hours per week the more balanced and happy with my life I am. Yes, I have given up some benefits, but we have health insurance through my husband, which is really the only benefit to me that is crucial. I have the rest of my life to work full time if i want to after my kids are grown, for now I am happiest working part time.

    NE  |  August 14th, 2010 at 7:36 pm

  • I work part-time and deeply value the opportunity to both maintain a career and have time with my children. My career as a psychologist accommodates part-time options. It seems that working arrangements can look very different depending on the industry that a woman is in. As such, I think that it would help young women tremendously to have these important conversations before they commit to their vocational training and before they have children. Every decision involves costs and benefits and making these decisions is a very individual process. At least if we started having these conversations much earlier we might have a better idea what we were getting into. As a P.S., as long as this remains a women’s only issue, we’ll be in trouble. I prefer to view parenting as a shared responsibility and advocate for better work-life balance for both men and women.

    Julie  |  January 3rd, 2011 at 4:56 pm

  • I used to work full time when my first three were little. I never felt right about it and longed to give up. In the end I was able to leave work and be a full time mother. I have never regretted it despite the lack of money. Yes I do miss the social side of work a bit but being here for the kids is priceless.

    Stroller Girl  |  January 30th, 2011 at 11:43 am

  • I work part-time (4 days) and have been for a number of years. I do enjoy my work and also being a Mom as well. For me, part-time works because it gives me a balance. I also for a great organisation which is supportive of flexible work/life balance and a great manager as well. I know my career development has taken a bit of a setback becos of my situation, but I am happy to accept that. I believe being able to work and earn the extra income makes me a better mom to my two girls.

    Charmaine  |  February 13th, 2011 at 10:28 pm

  • I think it´s possible to find tpart time jobs, but we ALWAYS have to let go something, and that´s the difficult part, knowing what each one of us will let go and what we won´t.
    We were raised opposite to past generations, in a belief that the goal was becoming an overachiever , an owner of the whole package; respect, income, study, family time, exercise time, couple time, spa time, meditation time… we just forget overachieving means going for the fast track, not for the long run and life is a long run.

    if we want to stay healthy, balanced and happy in the years to come in our lives, we must learn that sometimes it is about having just one or two pieces, not the whole package. But as I said, letting go is something we must learn, t´s the art of humility, of knowing we are not allmighty, just plain human; picking up what we want to have acoording to our priorities and letting go the rest of it.

    paola  |  March 20th, 2011 at 12:10 am

  • At the last job before having a baby i worked 10-14 hour days routinely. As soon as I became pregnant it stopped being a possibility and I’ve had a lot of internal and external conflict at work as I was adjusting. After maternity leave I felt I had two choices only - 1) work part time and from home so I can see my baby a lot or 2) don’t work at all. At first my job refused to give me what I want, so i quit and they came around… I now work as a consultant earning about the same amount i’ve made before but only working 3 days a week and from home 2 of these days. My job can’t be done part time frankly - however I’ve noticed that I am still producing more than most of the full time workers at my company as I don’t have distractions at home. I do believe that job sharing would be ideal, but I haven’t been able to find these opportunities. Yes i have to put up with less respect at my company than my skill level and experience warrants due to the fact I am not there.. My career advancement has stalled and i’ve had to work a lot on working relationships and letting my ego go…Yet I can take my kid to the park in the middle of the day and so it’s worth it for sure, AND consulting fees are great. I do often work late at night and i do have a lot more to prove since I am not there.. It’s very hard since I am never really ‘off’ - an image of being always available to move things forward at work is hard to maintain.

    Once my consulting gig expires, I will have some tough choices and would love to have some options.. I had to fight tooth and nail to get what i have at work now, but both my employer and me benefited greatly from this arrangement

    vera  |  April 11th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

  • in an instant. i work full-time. my husband is a student. and as a result our 8mo son ends up in daycare. i feel absolutely guilty with him being in daycare full-time. i feel like i never have enough time to spend with him and miss out on him growing. i would love to work a part-time job that would allow me to have enough energy left over to be a decent wife , upkeep on our home, cook dinner, and be more present for our son and for my husband. on the other hand it would be near impossible to achieve the medical/dental benefits we have now, job security , and knowledge that we are taken care of as long as i keep my current job.
    i want to switch careers but how can i knowing my husbands line of work when he finishes school usually only offers part time work with partial medical benefits and little else. i would be trading our financial security for my own happiness. it seems selfish but its tempting. i never thought i would be the breadwinner of the family in a million years. and honestly i hate it. i feel overwhelmed overworked and stressed. i feel like i never have enough time for myself or my family. i would trade places with a woman who’s man supports them financially in an instant dont get me wrong i love my husband but i do resent him horribley for the fact that it seems his life is sooo easy in comparison. i am at a crossroads and it comes down to deciding between my own happiness and my familys financial/health security.

    browneyes03  |  June 4th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

  • I agree that not all jobs are able to provide a part time schedule for us working mothers. Having said that I used to work full time up until this past year after losing my youngest daughter at 6 days old. I think if women want to work they should and should not get any ridicule for it or judgment on it. I recently found out that some working women are viewed as selfish from moms who do not work. From working full time for so many years to just recently part time I can tell you that while yes I work less at work, my time at home fills in the missing 3 hours from work. I don’t think its easier being a part time worker than a full time worker, its different, but definitely not easier. I work M-F but instead of 8 hours I work 6 hours. I just wanted to kind of give a part time working mom’s perspective, I love that I found a working mom’s blog, because it is difficult at times to juggle life’s activities on top of working.. Granted I know things look differently to me now that I’ve lost one of my children, but I like my job and I can always ask to move back to full time if I feel like it. I think just like staying at home works for some moms, working away from home works for other moms. I know I’m kind of jumping around (due to lack of sleep ha ha)…

    Elena  |  June 30th, 2011 at 8:23 pm

  • Great topic, even if I’m reading your question 3 years later! I work full time from home and VERY DESPERATELY wish I could work part time! It’s not that I don’t like my work — I love what I do (medical transcription), and I wish that hospitals weren’t closing their MT departments and outsourcing so that we have to do transcription at home. But my husband is self-employed, and someone has to carry our family’s health insurance, and so I’m the one who has to get it, with group insurance through my (internet) company. We’re both in excellent health currently, but with him having had a heart attack and me having cancer in the past and our daughter with psych issues, we can’t get an individual plan, or if someone agreed to cover us, the cost would be exorbitant. So that means I will have to work FT until we can both be on Medicare, which means another 10 years of it for me.

    Half the time I’m a mental wreck because I can’t keep up on my house, I hardly get to see my girlfriends anymore (and I work alone now in our basement, so I need people more than ever), I hardly get any recreation because I’m too tired to take a class or exercise or read a good book, my family still feels I don’t spend enough time with them, and I can’t find time to contribute to others such as through volunteer work. I’m not in a good place psychologically.

    But on the other hand, one joy is my job, I’ve done transcription for 25 years and I do it well, and am still constantly learning and being challenged, so switching to anything else seems like it would be incredibly boring. But I think if I stay in that field, I’m stuck with FT work, unless I can find some other transcription company that will let part-timers sign up for health insurance. It’s a dilemma, that’s for sure.

    Holly  |  July 18th, 2011 at 2:19 am

  • I have been struggling with this big time since I had my son two years ago. I read every single one of the comments posted here because I can’t wrap my head around how other women do it - working full time and being a mom while staying happy, that is. So I am glad to see I’m not the only one suffering here - physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially…

    I have one little boy who is almost two. I work full time because I have to. I’m a college grad with 10 years of work experience, but the best I could find after being laid off a few years ago then having a baby was an entry level administrative job that is so boring I want to blow my head off. But I don’t see any other options right now. I’ve driven myself crazy trying to think of other viable options for me to be home with my son more often (not to mention I want to have another!!) But it all comes back to the same thing - right now, I need to stay put.

    What really REALLY sucks is that even though I am away from home 40 hours plus (commuting time, lunch hour, etc), my husband (also a college grad, full time worker and extremely underpaid) and I are still just short of making ends meet. Yes, I do have wonderful health insurance and other benefits through my work, but is that worth being miserable and STILL having to pick and choose which bills to pay? After all, don’t we work so we can provide a good life for our children? If I can’t afford to buy my son the things that he needs, or things to keep our house nice, or financial peace, then what the hell is the point? I feel as though I am robbing my self and my family of any benefits that come from either working OR staying home…I’m getting the negative consequences of both without any of the positives.

    The only thing that gives me hope is that I do believe something will change, and things will improve for us. They always do - I have faith. I know I’m in the majority when it comes to struggling with this, and other people seem to come away with it happy and well adjusted. In the meantime, maybe I’lll come up with a brilliant plan in all these hours I’m wasting away bored out of my mind at work :)

    Mandee  |  August 24th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

  • I requested a change to part time hours after having my first child. My job was a regular 9-5 kind of day, and I now work mostly 3-4 hours in the mornings. It is a fast-paced working atmosphere and the hours fly by, but I do find it challenging to fit in a work load that mirrors that of my full time colleagues in half the time. Somehow I do it though and I often wonder how, but I like working under pressure and have good time management skills, so it suits me fine. As for home life, it’s great to be home, and our working hours allow us to care for our children at home, but it can sometimes be lonely, not to mention draining, to not have your partner there at the same time as you. Also, we’ve gone to half the income we had pre-baby, so that has been an adjustment, but things like sharing one car in the family and cutting back on dinners out, etc. plust not having to worry about lunches for work saves big time. It’s give and take, like everything else, but I wouldn’t change it for the world and highly recommend it to anyone who’s seriously thinking about it. I was the first in my corporation to have my working hours adjusted this way but I hope that I’ve proven that the job can be done in half the time. :)

    JK  |  September 2nd, 2011 at 4:17 pm

  • I feel so strongly about this subject. I am a full-time working mother of 3 children, ages 5, 4 & 3. (The middle child is my stepdaughter). I love my family to the ends of the earth. And I love my job as a clinical social worker. However, I am in the process of having to “earn” a part time position. Meaning that after my 6 month “new hire” probationary period (of which I am 4 months in), I will have to show that I am a quality employee for a full year before they will consider and 80% position. I struggle in that at 80% I will recieve a pay cut and thus at that point will be paid what I am working so I do not understand the whole “proving myself” part. It is frustrating to love my children and love my job and to not be able to make a reasonably balanced scheduled to do both happily and healthfully. I find myself overtired and in a fog trying to balance work, family, household and I have a very involved and helpful partner. I find that my own needs go unmet and then every other part of my wonderful life suffers. I often wonder about policy changes for parents so that they can have more options in their lives so that we can work and be productive members of society without cost to our children and to our own well-being.

    Laurie  |  September 9th, 2011 at 10:23 am

  • I dropped my hours to pt after becoming a mom and now work half of the hours that most of my colleagues work, for half the pay. I do not get the same level of respect. I do my job well and never use lines like “Sorry I only work part time” or anything, but I often get the “Oh, you’re leaving now?” attititude from many colleagues when I go home a few hours earlier than they do. I wish I could wear a button that says “Yes, I work part time and I get a part time pay cheque for it too”.

    Jem  |  October 5th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

  • I use to work full time and it was just too much to handle with a son. I felt like a zombie just going through the motions. I just started looking for a part - time job and like most people have mentioned, all you can find is $10hr jobs which is not even enough to cover my cobra which is $771.00 a month.

    Felica  |  October 8th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

  • Hi, I am a mother of 4, with 3 girls 8,6,5. My husband was laid off June 2010 from a high paying job as a police officer in NJ. We were devestated and it would cost more for child care then for him to watch kids while I worked p/t. We started writing kids books with our kids as an inexpensive way to entertain them as well as educate them. As our book went from construction paper to an actual book we printed for them online, we became a kinda sensation in our little town. People wanted to buy the book and then the school where my kids went wanted a copy. We decided to try and print more, but without a job and no money left in savings it was not an option. After 18 mos of losing our home and having to move and being down to literally our last dollar, we got financing to print our books and are now printing our third title! I still work p/t as a bartender, but hopefully I wont have to much longer. And we did it all on our own!!!

    Check our blog and our story at

    Nicole  |  December 12th, 2011 at 12:53 pm