Flexible working. Feminism. Fun.

Let’s be honest about part-time working

Let’s be honest about part-time working

I’ve been feeling like I needed to come out for a while. But I was embarrassed…maybe even a little ashamed.

I think I’m ready now.

So here it goes:

I work part time.

That shouldn’t be a big deal, right? And yet I almost never admit it to people. When people ask me what they do, I tell them the truth – that I’m a digital content designer. Most people nod politely, because they have no idea what that means, or say something vague like, “Oh, so you do websites?”

“Errr…yes. I do websites,” I say. But I never mention that I do it part time.

Despite being a vocal advocate for flexible working, I’m hesitant to tell people that I only work four days a week. A small part of me feels like it makes me look like I’m not terribly serious about this whole ‘working’ thing. I imagine other working mums tutting to themselves and saying, “Oh, you only work FOUR days a week? God, it must be great having all that free time, right? My kids are in full-time nursery because I’m far too important to go part time. You’re lucky to have such a low-pressure job where they don’t need you around that much.”

It’s a stupid thing to imagine, because most other mothers aren’t a-holes like that. Besides, I work with several other mums who work part time, and no one has ever questioned their skills or value to our team. I certainly don’t. So why the shadiness about my part-time status?

Maybe it comes back to this idea that women can – and should – have it all. The idyllic family life. The high-powered career. The perfect figure. The tidy house. I push back against those sort of pressures, at least publicly. But privately, I chastise myself for not being a good enough mother, for not being more ambitious in my career, for eating half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting (I’m not sure it’s physically possible to eat less), for not being able to remember the last time I changed the sheets.

People often describe part-time working as giving you the best of both worlds – maintaining a career while also getting more family time – but it doesn’t always feel like that. I often wonder if I’ll ever be able to get a more senior job as a part-timer. I still only see my kid for a few hours each night most weekdays. I make less money now than when I started with my employer 10 years ago.

I don’t have it all. I have a bit of some of it. And sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough, but I know trying to have it all would feel like too much.

If I worked until 7pm every night and then came home and tried to bake organic toddler-friendly muffins or whatever, I would end up stress-eating all of the muffins on my own while hate-stalking fitness enthusiasts on Instagram. So instead, I work until 4pm four days a week, then come home and dance around to the Grease soundtrack with my toddler.

My choices may mean that I can’t give everything I have to either my career or my kid, but I think I’ve found the right balance for me, at least for right now.

So from now on, I’m going to own the part-time label. I like hanging out with my kid, but I also like getting away from her sometimes so my brain can think about adult things. I also like being able to say, “As much as I’d love to stay for this meeting about the meeting that we had last week to recap our conference call about that email you sent, I need to go pick up my daughter.” And there’s no shame in that.

Rhyming with Wine
Bringing up Georgia

18 thoughts on “Let’s be honest about part-time working”

  • No I don’t think it’s possible to eat less Ben and jerrys in one sitting either. Anyway beside the point, I am glad it is working for you. I think 4 days sounds more like full time and I have mega respect for all parents, working, not working. Whatever you choose it is not easy but I do like the sound of dancing round the kitchen to grease! Thanks for joining us at #familyfun x

  • From one ‘part-timer’ to another – own it lovely! I love working part time, screw what anyone else thinks. It works well for us and has done for four years. Why would I chnage it? #familyfun

  • Argh!! This is me!! I only work 3 days, it worked out that way and I do a job share after returning to work after maternity leave. I Always
    Guilty that I only work 3 days and sometimes don’t feel like I can I say I’m
    A working mum ( or feel justified!) how stupid is that!!! ??

  • No shame in that at all! Brilliant post. I think four days a week is really great, and you’re doing it on top of child rearing and a million other things. It’s absolutely brilliant that you’ve managed to find a balance that works for you. Also, I have been known to eat the entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough. Yum x #dreamteam

  • I think part-time working and working-from-home are AMAZING options for mums – it’s the best of both worlds while not completely ignoring that one aspect of your life. And four days a week is a LOT… so don’t feel ashamed. Motherhood is a full-time job in itself, so I would look at it as working two shifts;)

  • No shame working part time! At least you are working and helping to provide for your family x flexible working has come on leaps and bounds and just as long as you are productive it shouldn’t matter what hours you do x #DreamTeam

  • There’s absolutely no shame in that at all and I think you’ve struck a balance. I was just commenting on bringing up georgia’s post that I wa a better parent when I worked part-time as I gave my children my all on those days off. However, on the flip side there were those days that I scolded myself for not being a good enough parent, not being good enough at work – not sure us working mums ever win but I’m glad you’re feeling the positive today! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • OMG I dont consider you to be working part time at all, I think you’re full time and then some. When I started back at work I was lucky to be able to use holiday and just to 3 days a week – to me this was the perfect balance. It meant I had time ‘to be Mum’, use one of my days to clean the house and one day to do something fun with my daughter! I’ve since moved up to 33 hours and I cant see my a**se from my elbow! Considering its only 1 day, the change is enormous and i’m constantly chasing my tail trying to catch up with stuff! 4 days a week as a Mum is no mean feat and I think you’re incredible running a blog too! well done and don’t be so harsh on yourself! xx

  • OMG I have just posted about the dilemmas of the working parent and how I just cant get the balance right and I think it does come down to my thoughts that I should be working full time. But why? I have no idea…..we must do what suits us and our family and there cannot be shame in that. For me, its all inside me I think. Thanks for sharing. #dreamteam

  • This is brilliant! I haven’t find back to work yet but I’ll have a similar arrangement. So far I feel lucky that I don’t have to work five days a week, but we’ll see what it actually feels like when it happens!

  • Totally with you on the Ben&Jerry’s thing! I think you got it spot on when you put “I don’t have it all. I have a bit of some of it.” As a work-at-home parent, I feel this too – it’s nice to be at home and be totally flexible, but it’s also really difficult to keep work and life separate and make sure they don’t encroach on each other. I don’t think there is a perfect solution, but just a solution that works for you right now. And there’s definitely no shame in being part-time x #dreamteam

  • Loved this post! I feel like the have it all saying really did set up an impossible scenario for mothers. You can’t have it all. It’s just not possible. You have to balance everything and if that means part-time work, than great on you for seeing that as the best scenario for you and your family.

    Thank you for sharing on #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Good for you! I think we were all told when we were at school etc that we could do everything all at once, but realistically there’s no way that we can. We need to compromise, and not feel ashamed of that.

    If we can swing it financially after my maternity leave, I really hope to go back three days a week rather than five. My job is fine, but even pre-baby I struggled to manage full-time work, keeping the house together, and still having a few minutes each day to remember who exactly I am. I can’t imagine it’ll get any easier after going back to work!

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