I’ve been back in the work saddle for six months now, and if there’s one thing I’ve truly realised this time around, it’s that flexibility is key. It’s impossible to be a “good” mum and a “good” employee without one slipping to favour the other from time to time. That’s a pretty hard lesson, actually. The 9-5 isn’t a one size fits all mould anymore, is it?
I’ve been pretty lucky with my job. I already had a part-time working pattern agreed from the first time I left to have a baby, and so I’ve slotted back into that. I’m also able to juggle my hours and days if needed, and I can work from home too, which makes a massive difference to how I manage my time. People can view “wfh” as a bit of a doss, but I know that scratching out the commute means I can spend an extra hour or so getting things done. 9-5 might become 8-6 one day, for example, and 9-3.30 the next.
It’s important to switch off, though, and think about ways to make your days as a working mum easier. No matter where I’ve been, I try to zone off the work stuff after dinner before bedtime. That time is often the only quality time I get with the girls all day, and even if it means hanging about on the sofa watching crappy cartoons, I’m there.
However, I know a lot of parents aren’t so lucky, and so the demand for alternative ways to make ends meet is high. Minds out of the gutter, people! If you think outside of the box, there’s an awful lot that we can do to maximise on our skills and available time. First things first- you should be aware of your rights as an employee. Unfortunately, a staggering number of mothers have admitted having to leave their job in order to find something that works around their kid’s timetable. Be sure to know your rights about flexible work before making any important decisions.
For those mothers or fathers out there who are starting your own job search from scratch after having kids, here are some job ideas to kick things off.
There are many freelance and remote opportunities to work as a city-guide writer. If you love to write and give insight into your hometown and other cities you love, this could be the perfect fit for you! All your wonderful recommendations and insights into the city would be put to even greater use and enjoyed by all.
Freelance Product Photographer
Do you like to dabble in photography and graphic design during your free time? You could turn this into a well-paying job to bring in some extra money and also do something you love. There are part-time, temporary and freelance opportunities to make sure you can accommodate your work-family balance.
If you’re considering a change into a new industry, often the Receptionist or Front of House roles give you the perfect route in and allow you to build back up any business skills that you think you’ve lost in swathes of dirty nappies and sicky bibs. Plus, you can often work part time, or job-share the role with a fellow part time employee. Looking online for receptionist jobs is a good idea as many new vacancies are posted on a daily basis and are snapped up fast by job seekers.
There are suddenly masses of opportunities to help organise the online life of others, through working as a Virtual Assistant, or a VA. What are your strengths? Are you good at the techy admin that web-based providers might dread? Can you format social media for a company, or carry out routine website maintenance such as broken link checking and alt tagging?
Did you absolutely fall in love with a baby or toddler group while you were on maternity leave? Most of these are franchise-led, and my three favourite groups were all run by parents who used to take their own children along to that class. They’re usually term time only with school-friendly hours, and offer a wonderfully rewarding opportunity for those who can hack the noise (!).
Finding the right balance between work and family life takes time, so patience and determination are also necessary. Every family is different, so it may take some time and trial and error to find what works best for your family. Do not be afraid to try new things and keep conversation open in your family. From there, anything (even working as a parent) is possible!
-SJW May 2017
Disclaimer: Written in collaboration with Mary. Please see my Disclosure Statement for more details.