This week I've started digging into the results of the strategies that many of you provided in the Making It Work Survey. I took a look at the respondents who rated their satisfaction with their work life balance as a 4 or a 5 to find out what their strategies were.
The most common strategy theme was finding a job, or tweaking an existing job, to be able to have the right mix of career and home time. The mix itself varied greatly from person to person, but the idea was that our 4's and 5's seem to have taken charge and found a way to carve out the most ideal arrangement for themselves. Specifically, some approaches included:
1. Negotiate alternate or flexible work schedule. The most satisfied parents asserted that it's worth proposing to your employer an alternate full time schedule that allows more time with family. Examples included:
- Negotiating a four day work week to have three days with the kids.
- Having one parent work an early schedule and the other a late schedule so that each has special time with the children, and the children spend less time in day care.
- Each parent leaves work early a couple days per week to pick kids up from school and have special quality time, and making up the work after bedtime.
2. Scale back to part time. Many of you thought you wouldn't be able to meet your family's needs and work part time time, but, in the end, figured out that you could, in fact, make it work. This response really captured the spirit of the answers in this category:
"3 days/wk from 8:30-5 is perfect for me and I never thought I'd be able to find part-time but I did. My mom of all people really pushed me to look into it. Before I went on maternity leave my manager (a woman) had told me "I don't know how you could do consulting part-time." My mom said, "they won't do it for you; just come up with a solution and present it to them and make it airtight so they can't say no." Well she was right. Before coming back from maternity leave I started making phone calls and eventually found a project manager who was looking for my skills and was actually himself wondering if he could bring someone on part-time! And I do good work for him so he has kept me on. As long as I'm billable my consulting team can't really say no. It's been perfect."
3. Find a full time job that advances your career but also values work/life balance. I loved these responses because they really demonstrated that there are competitive, high-level full time jobs out there with employers that 'get it.' Whether it's allowing remote work or encouraging strong work-life boundaries, the most satisfied full-time working parents indicated that their positions and employers provided the kind of support that makes it work. Here were a few of the responses:
Shifting careers to the Federal government.
"I was working for a consulting firm Making $120K plus.. but working 50-55 hours a week... I decided to take a government job GS-13 step 10 Meaning $115K a year well below my skill set... but 37-40 hour work weeks ... oh and poor me 2 x a year I have to travel to Europe .... my husband watches my son. So far and it has worked out great.. I have flexibility in my work schedule and am very technically challenged... I lucked out."
Finding a job that allows work from home.
"I have a job now that provides great flexibility. I work from home when I'm not on the road and that has been terrific."
"[I chose] not to climb the corporate ladder or take a position that requires 24-7 attention, for more reasonable hours and a reasonable commute"
Aside from finding the right work environment, our most satisfied parents have figured out really effective approaches to making the most of the time at home. I look forward to sharing more next week. In the meantime, I'd love your comments on the findings I presented today.
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