Friday, January 27, 2012

Top tips for being a part time mum

Blogger Sarah Wayland from That Space In Between considers her new existence as a part time mum and what works for her.

A lot of mums re-entering the workforce after the fog of maternity leave choose to work part time. It's akin to having a few secret identities you have to have an ability to wear different masks at different times. Working part time is not only a juggle in terms of how you separate your week but it can be a little tricky in terms of how you fit into the workplace.

I returned to work part time a few months back. I stepped back into the workforce gingerly as Id gone back full time after my daughter was born 6 years ago (full time over 4 days) and I had really found the pull to be at home unbearable some days. This time I wanted to ease myself back into it so that I was home more than away. Working one day in the office and one day at home is an opportunity that not many are provided with but I must admit some weeks I feel like I'm there so little that I don't feel connected to the workplace so here are a few tips I've developed for myself with some input from other PTMs (part time mums....I'm a public servant so it goes without saying that I love an acronym)

1. Get to work early on the day you're in the office. It gives you a few more minutes to pop around and say hi to people without feeling guilty that you're not using your limited time to the best of your ability.

2. Have a really clear outline of what you want to achieve on the days you're at work. You don't have the luxury of staring out the window and working back late when small people have to be collected from various places.

3. Pop in randomly for work social activities that fall on days you're not there. At Christmas time I packed up my littlies and went in for a morning tea. Sure there were some people with their mouth hanging open that you'd come to the office on a day off but it made me feel like I belonged a little more than my name on my door.

4. Check your emails on the night before you return to work. It helps to offset any nasty surprises when you've forgotten you're interviewing a job applicant at 9am and you might be swanning around drinking a coffee and reading the paper online (this has never happened to me).

5. Send your boss (and any other colleagues it affects) an email when you finish up at the end of your work week. Just a bit of a heads up while you're not there, an update on where you are at and even a gentle reminder when you wander back in the following week feeling like it's been months since you were there last.

Part time work is great but remember it's just that, it only makes up part of your week so the camaraderie, the connectedness and the engagement you felt when you lived there before you had kids won't be the same. On the flipside it also doesn't mean that the work day is devoid of laughs and the occasional opportunity to eat the birthday cake of someone you barely know.

Sarah Wayland has been working as a Social Worker in the missing persons field for the last 10 years. She is currently a part-time stay-at-home mum, part-time public servant and part-time postgraduate student in the field of hope and loss at the University of New England. She blogs at

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