If a Reduced Work Schedule Is Right For You

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There are many things to consider before you accept a reduced work schedule. A reduced work schedule could be your answer to work/life balance, but this may be one of those preconceived nothings we all have about parenthood. If we work less, we can be more successful at work and at home.

This may be true for some moms, but others find that they can find work-life balance through a flexible schedule, a partner who carries his or her share of childcare responsibilities or an extra pair of hands, such as a nanny or grandparent.

Before you jump into a reduced work arrangement consider whether or not it'd be a good fit for your life. For instance, your children will be minors for about two decades, and it's hard to predict when they'll need you most at home or at school events. If you assume that you're most needed when your child is an infant and thus negotiate a reduced work schedule, you may be unhappy to learn that your angst-ridden tween is actually the most demanding.

Decide If You Could Afford a Lesser Income

Even if you keep the same hourly rate of pay, because you're working fewer hours each week, your overall take-home wages will drop. On top of this, many professions experience a part-time penalty, in which your pay drops even more than it should, proportionately, because reduced work schedules are considered a perk that compensates for a slightly lower hourly rate.

Take into consideration how your daycare costs would be affected. If your child goes part-time, does the tuition increase (because you're holding a spot a potential full-timer could fill) or does it decrease?

The best advice is to look at your household budget and see where you could cut back on spending. There are always things that can be cut it just depends on how much you'd like to change your lifestyle.

Your Workload

Imagine the disappointment when you've finally worked out the perfect part-time schedule, only to discover that your workload refuses to squeeze into the hours for which you're being paid. Not everyone on a part-time schedule experiences this problem, but many do.

Unless your job can truly be compressed or pared down so that you can complete your responsibilities in the allotted time, you could be shortchanged by taking a reduced hour schedule. Before you agree to your new schedule, negotiate what your job responsibilities will be.

Show You're Committed to Your Work

You may believe wholeheartedly that you're just as committed to your career on a reduced hour schedule as you were when you were working full time. The sad truth, however, is that many of your colleagues and managers may assume that you're not interested in advancing as quickly or taking on challenging projects because you've reduced your workload.

If this is the case you'll need to get creative in how you can show others you're still committed to your career advancement. You could seek out travel and "stretch" assignments. When you're in the office you can be even more focused and efficient than you were before because you're there less often. You can meet with your manager often to show enthusiasm about your projects and share ideas you have about future ones.

Set Boundaries Early on to Avoid Being Overwhelmed

A final complaint from some moms on reduced hour schedules is that because they have slightly more free time, people will try to use it up. Maybe the school asks you to volunteer more often, or neighbors request that you help with package deliveries or home repairs because you're home one day a week. Your spouse may even be guilty of cutting into this hard-earned time away from work, by loading you up with more household errands.

If you commit to a reduced work schedule, cherish and protect the free time you've earned. Set daily personal and professional goals so that when someone asks you for a favor, it'll be easier to say no instead of yes.

Decide What You Need This Free Time For

Is catching up on housework, piled-up laundry or grocery shopping be worth you changing your hours? Perhaps you have no time for self-care or exercise and working a reduced work schedule would give you time to hit the gym.

Either way, you'll end up with more time to fulfill the needs of your family or yourself. If you are struggling with this, a reduced work schedule may be your answer.

Reducing Your Hours May Be Better Than Quitting

For some working moms, reduced work is the best alternative to quitting a job entirely. If your spouse has a demanding work and travel schedule, you may have to work part-time or not at all. In this case, reduced hours present an acceptable compromise between the full-time career you really want, and giving up any paid work.

Making a career change like this is a tough decision for some. For some, the decision is easy because they are fed up with the status quo and need a change. For others, there are so many factors that writing out the pros and cons, with the assistance of this list will help them make an informed decision. Just remember you always have a choice, if you choose to make it.