Series: Want to Downsize Your Work Year? Special Days Work Part-Time Work-Life Balance

Four Ways I’ve Balanced Career and Family Life by Working Part-Time

Four Ways I’ve Balanced Career and Family Life by Working Part-Time

Whether you seek to work from home or with flex scheduling in an office, be encouraged to know there are employers who allow flexible work arrangements. Photo by Kamen Atanassov on Unsplash

Welcome to part three in a series I’ve named Want to Downsize Your Work Year?  Links to all articles in the series are available at the bottom of this post.

If you are seeking part-time work in your life, I hope you will find encouragement as I describe the four different ways my employers have allowed me to work as a part-time professional.


October 17, 2017, is National Flex Day, a day to encourage employers and employees to recognize, celebrate, and unite behind the value and benefits of flexible work scenarios. Originally created by Working Mother magazine, National Flex Day is a great idea to keep the conversation open and the trend moving forward.

I haven’t worked full-time since giving birth to my first child in the 1990s. I am so thankful that various employers have honored my request for part-time status. It is one of my passions to let other parents know that they, too, can combine a part-time career with parenthood.

As I alluded to in part 1 of this series, once my husband and I decided what values were priority for our family, part-time status (rather than full-time) became a must-have item for me. It was what he and I both wanted for our family.

As I wrote in part 2 of this series, the employer definitely has some say in the matter. A lot of say, in fact, as without an employer’s support and willingness, your company could deny your request, thus forcing you to choose full-time or to quit and look elsewhere.

Below are the four ways I have altered my career and work year to free up time for my various roles at home. Future posts will detail how I brought up part-time work at my interview, what benefits were provided (or not) by the employers, and the pros and cons of each scenario. Today I’ll focus on describing the nature of my various part-time positions.

Permanent Part-Time and Job Sharing

It was during my years as an engineer for the federal government that I had my first child. I had worked in the civilian workforce for nearly five years and truly enjoyed my job. By planning ahead and saving my vacation time and sick leave, I had 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. As the end of those 12 weeks approached, I knew I didn’t want to work full-time anymore.

My manager agreed to my request to work half-time, 20 hours per week, without hesitation. We agreed that if a trial period of a few months was successful, we would convert my full-time government slot into a job-sharing slot. One authorized permanent position shared by two half-time employees.

We stuck to the plan. It worked out incredibly well as we hired another female engineer who was also a mother of young children. She and I didn’t share day-to-day responsibilities, but instead just shared the authorized full-time position. We had our own projects, worked independently of each other, and were usually at the office at the same time (5-hour days, four times per week).

The arrangement lasted several years until we both coincidentally left within a short time of the other. She moved away and I became a stay-at-home mom (SAHM).

Temporary Status with a Corporation

After my SAHM years, I was ready to return to the work force and was thankful to get hired by a national Architect/Engineer (AE) consulting firm. With this company, I had in-house temporary status, which meant they would let me know if they had work and I would work if I was available. I was employed directly by the firm, not a temporary staffing agency.

A phrase you might hear in the consulting world is ‘feast or famine.’ The office staff’s workload might be very heavy or the workload might be light. In my several years with this firm, there were many weeks and months where I worked as many hours as I wanted, occasionally more. And there were other weeks where they needed to limit the project work to permanent full-time staff to keep their “percent billable” high.

Amazingly, the rise and fall of workload over the years matched my availability, meaning I was available when they needed me and I tended to other priorities when they didn’t. The variable hours provided varying paychecks and a freedom to fill my days with life outside of work.

Regular Part-Time Status

As the season of two kids in college approached, I obtained a permanent part-time job with work hours that aligned with my children’s school day. I wanted to earn steady income to help with our kids’ college expenses and I was thankful to find part-time employment with another AE firm. The regularly scheduled hours provided a structure to my routine and helped us save at an increased rate.

Part-Time and Telecommuting

Another time, we had a family circumstance where it did not make sense, financially or logistically, for me to be working outside of the home. When I submitted the standard two-week notice, I was pleasantly surprised that my boss fought for me to stay and got permission to offer the option of telecommuting. I hadn’t considered requesting that option, and it was a successful and beneficial time for my family and my employer.


Those are the four ways I have continued my career while working as a part-time professional. I know others have used different approaches, which we’ll learn about in future posts.

If you read my About Carol page, you know my approximate age. Do the math and you can figure out that each of these jobs lasted several years. My employers have been incredible about supporting my non-negotiable desire for part-time status. I am so grateful.

Be encouraged! There are employers who are willing to accommodate those who desire less than full-time work.

Share in the comments below how you’ve arranged for a flexible work schedule in your career. Then head over to the National Flex Day contest page, where you can enter a drawing by leaving a comment about what work flexibility means to you. The deadline to enter is 11:59 pm ET on October 20, 2017. Happy National Flex Day!




Links to all articles in the series: Want to Downsize Your Work Year?

Article #1: Read These Non-Monetary Considerations

Article #2: Why Your Employer Might Say Yes!

Article #3: This post

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