You’re likely to spend 40 years of your life in some form of employment. And, those will be the best hours of each of your days that you spend doing “work”.
No matter how much you love your work, once you have children, you realize your most important title in life is Mother or Father. You’re in charge of the development of a human being! And maybe multiple. This tiny person has the ability to leave a major impact on the world. (So do you.) But the ability to inspire and guide your own flesh and blood into young adulthood (and beyond if you are blessed with their respect) cannot compete against the next SAP implementation, process improvement or Product Iteration 4.0 you may be a part of.
Now step back and take a look at all those years of your life.
For only 1 of them are they an infant.
For only 5 of them are they home all day, every day.
And for the next 12 they are in school during their best hours and you get to spend family time together during morning rush hour, evening rush hour (I’m talking about your kitchen / bathroom rush hours) and the end of the day when your batteries are wearing out.
If you’re lucky, the weather cooperates for some of the weekends you have together that aren’t filled with catch up around the house, holidays and extra curricular activities.
Newsflash! The cliche is so true. They are only under your roof for a short time.
And thinking of teenagers who jump right into their own busy life by about age 13-4, you’re really talking about 13-14 years of time when they like to listen to your thoughts. 13-14 years out of 40ish years in which you will be in the workforce. If you have 2 – 3 kids, that may extend by a couple of years max.
So is it a big deal for you to take a step back from the ladder climbing for a season? What about asking for a part time or reduced hours role? Or, finding a way to work from home entirely?
I want to break down some creative work options for families. Personally I have been full time, part time, flex time, on ramping, off ramping, contract, self employed, overtime, travel time and everything in between. So basically, I have a little firsthand experience to share here.
Option 1: Alter Your Current Work Schedule
If your employer offers reduced hours, flex time or alternate work schedules, this is ideal. You are valuable to your employer as that cost to hire a new you can be high with retraining and learning curves. Consider approaching your boss. This is by far the easiest to transition to as it requires no retraining and you can almost immediately find relief in your schedule to meet family needs.
So many kid related activities / appointments must happen between 8 and 5. Teacher meetings, doctors check ups, phone calls to set up summer camps, tutoring and other programs. If you can, create a schedule that gives you some free hours M – F between 8 and 5 to get those activities done.
When I worked part time while our kids were younger, I had co-workers frequently say things like “that must be nice” assuming my off hours were spent at the spa or on the golf course. It was pretty easy to give them a dose of reality as I described grocery outings to the warehouse store because it was faster during off hours and picking up uniforms and dry-cleaning that filled my off afternoon. Oh, and at less pay but that part was entirely worth it. It was not about money but moments with family.
Option 2: Take A New Position Designed for Part Timers
If staying with your current employer is not an option, take this as an opportunity to try something new that caters to part time hours. One way to find this is to reach into your personal network of people who know your work quality and understand your time constraints. It takes focus and discipline to crush a project while working part time but often what I found is that my efficiency nearly compared to that of a full time worker (for half the pay so be careful how you negotiate that!)
Option 3: Become an Independent Contractor
It takes some planning, some sales and the ability to self-manage but independent contracting has never been an easier market to enter. To begin looking for possible job fits for you consider these great sites.
Flexjobs.com, Upwork.com and HireMyMom.com are all places you can find freelance work. There are great projects for anyone with administrative, marketing, legal, finance / accounting, sales, project management, graphics / creatives, writing or technical skills.
If you are considering this route, check out the advice in the next paragraph as well, because congratulations, you are now running your own business and a very lucrative and fulfilling future is ahead of you. The best step I took on my journey was watching Marie Forleo’s free B-School video series. Don’t skip that step.
Option 4: Make 6 figures running your online business
Kidding. Actually partially kidding. This is my warning to not get suckered into the emotionally riveting email subject lines and sales pages promising quick wins and cash while you sleep. Online marketing does work well but behind that are real people having real conversations doing real good in the real world. What you need is an effective business model that matches your skills and serves a need for a particular audience. And then, perhaps some coaching / consulting from someone who has run a real business that leverages online marketing. I say it like it’s simple. “All you need to do is…” Well here’s one secret. It’s just one foot in front of the other, trial and error and then you find that audience that craves your personality, product or service. One of my favorite things is brainstorming and critiquing business ideas and growth strategies. So I’ll be personally walking a select group through B-School. It’s your chance to pick my brain.
Option 5: Start With a Direct Sales / Home Party Business
*If* there is a product you love, and you are only trying to replace a couple thousand a month, these can be good options. It’s a ready made business. You learn the system and follow the plan. You must not be afraid of sales. You must have a decent sized personal network and /or be ready to invest in marketing to grow an audience. And you must realize, with a few exceptions of some long standing companies, this would not be a lifetime career but good for a season. Also beware that while the hours are flexible, many jobs like this require a lot of evening and weekend work which may be worse for your family schedule.
I need to be honest and say that this is not my most favorite path. I did rise to a director level in a direct sales company, while working full time and pregnant with my 4th child. (Yes I figured out the system and LOVED the products and my passion for it attracted people to me naturally.) Amongst the few things I didn’t like about this option is that you have to “sell the dream” that isn’t achievable by some. It was heartbreaking to see people get super excited about the product and the financial freedom potential of becoming a consultant knowing that a small percentage truly get to the level I was or even higher. So to set expectations, this path is great if you only want to replace $500-$1500 / month by the end of the first 3-6 months and are ok with the evening / weekend work. But, you do build an audience and have a ready made following should you decide to launch another venture.
More on direct sales later. We can talk a LOT about that if you need direction.
In case you are still leery of jumping off the ladder climbing path at your job, remember this:
This change in your work is only for a season. Once you get beyond it, most people won’t even remember it. In fact, most co-workers may not even know you only work part time or reduced hours if you continue to deliver great work.
You will learn a LOT about yourself as you optimize your work schedule and efficiency and learn new things.
It will be very refreshing to have a job you like to focus on that doesn’t press into your family time. (Dare I call this the elusive balance everyone is seeking?)
You will never regret those moments home with the kiddos. When you are refreshed and home on the couch with them by 3 PM and able to practice ABCs together when you aren’t completely exhausted.
If you ever want to go back to M-F 8-5 employment you will come back with a whole new set of skills and experience to share.
If you are worried about the reduced income that can accompany a reduced hour schedule or job change, be sure to factor in these unexpected benefits:
- More time to plan healthy, affordable at home meals
- Less stops for coffee and dry cleaning
- More time to shop around for purchases instead of needing to make a rapid selection
- Less spent on wardrobe
What’s your next step? If you want to explore the possibility of a career change to accommodate your family needs, let’s chat. More resources for working moms at this link. Or to tap into my brain for a business planning / brainstorm session go to LoriMercerCTO.com.
For some more reading
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