Recently I had a chat with a full-time working mum. It went like this:
Me: “Wow, you have three kids, you must be tired!”
Her: “Yep, aren’t all mothers though? I also work full-time, so there’s that.”
Me: “Geez, I only work two days a week and I struggle to balance it all. Hats off to you.”
Her: “I wish I didn’t have to work full-time. I wish I could be with my kids more during the week but we need the money. We just can’t afford for me not to work full-time. But at least I’m getting paid for my time. So many of my part-time working mum friends end up working on their days off. But they refuse to go full-time or increase their days because they want the flexibility that part-time gives.”
And there it is.
Mothers working part-time jobs are bloody appreciative of having the ‘opportunity’ to balance their lives – even if we don’t always do this. But are they as appreciated by employers as they should be?
Let me tell you – if you employ a part-time OR full-time working mother, you are absolutely scoring as an employer.
Why? Well, let me count the ways!
1. We value our job SO MUCH
I work part-time. I’ve figured out exactly the amount I need to work for us to stay financially afloat and to be a mum. But that doesn’t mean I get the balance right. It just means that I am trying to, like every other parent. And yes, I know we are all working within the confines of our situation so NO JUDGEMENT from me if you work full-time, part-time or not at all.
But I can say as someone who sought to find flexible employment that works around school/kids/life in general, that I really, really appreciate having a job that allows me to juggle this as best I can.
As such, I don’t want to lose my job. Which leads me to …
2. We give 110 percent
Anyone who is in a job they value (part or full-time) is going to give all they can to it – because we love it and we want to succeed at it, but also because we want to prove to our employer that we are worth it.
For mothers who have searched for that perfect part-time job that they feel will help them better juggle their lives, well, these positions are the holy grail.
Take my friend, Lucy. She works part-time in a role she loves.
“Getting a part-time job as a busy mum in my own industry was as close to the jackpot as I could get, once my second son came along.”
But like many of us, she often works ad-hoc on her non-work days.
“I reply to emails, think of concepts and ideas in my ‘spare time’ outside of work. I have an excellent and supportive boss who I have worked for in a previous job. And I think this makes all the difference, too.
“It’s a mutually respectful relationship where I can ask for flexibility but also always deliver when the flexibility is expected of me. I don’t think twice about responding or even following up on things on my non-work days, because to me this job is all part of a bigger picture.”
And that’s just it. A bigger picture that includes little people and keeping our careers going forward.
3. We will never chuck a sickie!
Like our fellow full-time working mums and those doing casual work, we will work even when sick. We will soldier on because that’s just what mums do! But also, because we have likely used up our sick leave when taking care of our little loves when they are unwell – unless of course, this falls on our day off (which is reason 299 that we want to work part-time).
We won’t, however – unlike some of our fellow workers – ever chuck a sickie. We value this job far too much for that!
4. Multitasking is our specialty
You know it, we know it – everyone knows it. Mothers receive a crash-course in learning to multitask from the moment their first baby is born, and the learning curve never ends. As such, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another employee who can juggle multiple tasks at once and still achieve the great results expected of everyone on the team.
If you need an employee who can work hard and fast, who can prioritise tasks to ensure everything gets done, and who can troubleshoot on the run – a mother is your best choice!
But we should still get paid for the work we ACTUALLY do
As much as mums (and some dads, too) appreciate the flexibility that part-time work offers in balancing our lives, this doesn’t mean we should work for free on our days off to prove to our employer that we are of value, or to feel more on top of jobs that are actually full-time positions. The same goes for the full-time mum who finds herself working on her precious family time weekends.
Mums work enough!
A case in point is my friend Ella:
“When my three kids were young, I took a job that was three days a week; the perfect balance, I thought, between work and home. This very quickly moved to four days a week and then there was pressure to make it full-time because, really, that was what the role required.”
Ella ended up working four paid days but she voluntarily regularly did half a day on her one day off.
“I did this because it was more important to me to have at least a little bit of wriggle room in my calendar, so I could take kids to appointments without endlessly feeling like I was asking a favour of my employer when I needed the time to do these things,” she says.
“Yes, this meant I worked ‘for free’ on those squeezed-in hours, but it always felt worth it because the pay-off was that this arrangement gave me some tiny amount of freedom to organise my home life.”
So yes, we are awesome employees because we really, really appreciate part-time hours, but we should also be compensated if we regularly go above and beyond.
If you are an employer reading this, give it some thought. The part-time mum working for you really values this job, but she’s also of great value to you.
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