I got an email today from someone who had read my profile and was interested in understanding how I managed to have a part time position. I started to respond via email but realized it was a really long answer, so I gave her the short version. Instead, you lovely readers get the full story.
Here’s the history. Two plus years ago, I was a relationship manager for the same company I work for now. I literally never saw the wee ones except during the weekends. My primary client was on the West Coast, and I was on the road around 50% of the time. When in the office, I rarely was able to leave before 7 or 8. My son was 2 1/2 at the time and would scream NO when he saw me while turning his head and sticking out his hands and arms to keep me away. Needless to say, that was heartbreaking.
As much as I loved my job, my family obviously came first. We could afford to have me stay home, so I submitted my resignation and began life as a SAHM to an 8 month old who was incredibly mobile and started walking less than a month after my last day and a 2 1/2 year old with some special needs.
Going from being in charge of everything and having my schedule be my own to being at home — and I do me AT home — with two small children who constantly needed refereeing was exhausting. I no longer had the mental stimulation I craved. I could rarely take the time to go to the bathroom unless they were napping. I had few friends (as we were in a new location) and fewer activities for the two of them, other than taking them to their Early Intervention therapies (my daughter was also receiving speech and occupational therapies, although she graduated from them last August).
The changes were quite a shock to my system, and I started climbing the walls. Luckily for me, I had two contacts who started calling me right about the same time to see if I would come back. The ironic part is that every time I had a conversation with one, the other would call me within 24 hours. Since they knew each other, I was convinced they were talking although they were from different companies, but that wasn’t the case. It truly was coincidence.
The first to call was a guy I had worked with when I was a management consultant who had opened his own consulting shop specializing in marketing consulting with a large concentration in financial services. It really would be quite a neat fit, as I had loved consulting except for the hours. He had another former colleague (with infant triplets!) working for him on a part-time basis, so he was comfortable with part time workers. Given the size of his firm, it would be a contract position (e.g., no benefits) and half time. His version of half time was around 27 hours a week, which was more than I was willing to commit to at that point, but I’d be able to do the majority of the work from home. Plus, given that it’s consulting, the pay was really nice.
The second job was with my former company in the same division. At the time, it was a contract position as well for 10 hours a week, again the majority from home. The pay wasn’t fantastic, but it was decent. It was also far more flexible in terms of me setting my 10 hours versus the more rigid set by the client.
In talking to my friend who worked in the consulting company, her part time was becoming much more of a roller coaster full time and slow times and leaning more and more towards full time. Since I also needed childcare and didn’t have an au pere (as my friend did), getting the flexibility in daycare also played into my decision.
I ended up going back to my former company. Initially, I was doing training on an analytics system for the business folks. It was super easy to use, and I was training the old marketing and sales people that I had worked with previously. Unfortuantely for them, the analytics guys couldn’t translate their knowledge to the business folks, so I had a nice cushy job.
A few months into doing this, my boss’s boss called me into his office to try to talk me into coming back on a more permanent basis. This would mean bringing my hours up to 3 days a week and working on a larger variety of projects. Personally, he had taken a number of lateral moves in his career so that he could have more family time and absolutely understood my desire to have time with my family. I agreed to come back, and the stipulation was the 24 hours meant 24 hours.
At that point, I began working on cross sell initiatives, helping the boss’s boss put together analyses and business cases for the senior execs at the company and the like. I also started taking on some fun projects that involved developing new products and expansions to grow our overall business. The work was definitely interesting, and my role was appreciated even as my division was reorganized.
This May, we had another reorganization and I was volunteered for a new Strategy team that is focusing on defining a new era for our business. I have a new boss now, one who I don’t respect nearly as much as I did my previous boss. He’s very hands on, which irritates me as I know what I’m doing and don’t like to have someone looking over my shoulder. Being part time though, I don’t have too many options. Finding another job in my company will be difficult given the economy and the intellectual challenge I have will be difficult to replace. Plus, they pay me nicely.
The plus side is that my boss’s boss again affirmed that I’m valued and seen as a critical contributor and supporter of me, so I’m currently working through how to make my situation more palatable again. My boss is clueless, and I’m still figuring out how to address his passive-aggressive tendencies.
I’ve thought about quitting to stay home again. I think I could do it now. My wee ones are older now and play nicely together and independently. I’m involved in a lot more activities, and the wee ones are also in school which gives me time to run errands and the like as needed. Plus I’ve been in my town for two plus years now, and I’ve made a lot of really good friends, which helps keep me sane.
So why haven’t I quit? First, I do like what I’m doing, in general. Second, they pay me, and it’s hard to give up that second income. Third, I get benefits with my job that are far better and cheaper than those my husband has — and as a side note for all of you who think that teachers and other public servants have cushy benefits, I’d like to respond with a big old HA! Plus, inertia is a huge factor.
I joke that I’m waiting for a layoff that I’ll happily take. Enjoy my severance and then stay home. Honestly, if I were to get laid off, that’s exactly what I’d do. The industry I work in has many problems, although my company is doing ok. We have had some layoffs in my company and my division, but I’ve yet to be affected. And the Strategy team I work on that is figuring out how to fix things and how to recreate the business is likely to be among the last to be let go. And I’m consistently ranked at the top end of our evaluations, which leads me to believe that I’m again likely to be amongst the last to go, if there were additional layoffs.
And so I continue… my part time work life, part time home life, part time volunteer life, part time family life — and way overcommitted life that I enjoy. But ask me tomorrow how I feel, and I may give you a different answer!
And don’t forget! Today is Free Slurpee Friday at 7-11!