During my youngest daughter’s gymnastic’s class this morning, I had a conversation with two other mothers. One is a graphic designer who left the field and began working from home doing freelance jobs once she started having children. (
She now has two, both of whom attend preschool three days a week from 9 to 1.) The second mother was a full-time worker until her daughter was born; her daughter, now almost four, will begin pre-K next year and this mother is trying to determine what path to take — return to work full- or part-time, or not at all.
Most mothers I speak to have the same idea about work and motherhood: They’d like part-time hours (or a flexible schedule) rather than heading back to the workforce full time. A study conducted by Pew Research Center found the same thing.
At this time, 66 percent of women work either full or part time: 74 percent work a full-time schedule while the remaining are employed part-time.
Yet when you ask these working moms what they would prefer to work, a whopping 62 percent say part-time. (On an interesting note, 79 percent of dads would prefer to work full-time!)
I can guess why we want to work part-time (I mean, I do fall within this category, after all!).
- Time to spend at home taking care of things that need to get done but are difficult to get done when working full time (laundry, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping)
- Time to spend at work doing something that we love
- Time to spend either at school or at the child’s extracurricular activities
We all feel harried, it seems: 4 in 10 working mothers stated in a 2005 survey that they felt rushed all of the time while 52 percent of mothers stated they felt rushed most of the time. In comparison, 26 percent of mothers who did not work outside of the home felt rushed most of the time.
Why are we rushed? It’s easy to see. Mothers are typically the ones who take care of doctor’s appointments, PTA meetings, getting dinner on the table and carpooling children from one thing to the next. On top of that, working mothers must be on the job from early morning until sometime in the late afternoon or early evening. This doesn’t even count the time that mothers spend taking care of ‘everything else’.
What can we do to make things a little easier if part time hours are not in the future?
Barry Izsak, founder of Arranging it All, says:
- Carpool as often as possible. On the days when it is not your turn to drive you can spend the extra minutes taking care of items you can’t do when you are behind the wheel.
- Take the bus or train if you can. While doing so you can read reports, write emails, or make phone calls as needed.
- In addition, Izsak suggests, “Combine activities logically.” Group errands together – if you are heading to the grocery store, which is next to the department store you need to stop at, which is next to the pharamacy, make that a one day group errand run.
A few additional tips I have picked up or that I use in my own home: