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How I did it: making the switch to part-time

Guest Contributor Jill Stockton

Let me begin by painting a picture…while working full-time, I often found myself daydreaming for more time at home with my two-year-old, a more organized house, a full refrigerator, an empty laundry basket and more “me time.” I also wondered what part-time working moms do with all of their “spare” time, since obviously they have so much of it! The fantasy of becoming a part-time working mom had me captivated. Things got really interesting when this fantasy became my new reality.

While working full-time for a public relations and public affairs agency in Reno, a part-time opportunity presented itself to me. I initially discounted the thought of applying for the job. Let’s be honest: I spent years building my reputation and career, and had invested a significant amount of money in earning a master’s degree. Was working part-time going to discount all of the hard work I’d put in over the past 10 years? What would my friends think of me if I made this change? Would people in my field still take me seriously?

After all, working full-time is no joke, as many of you know. It’s stressful, chaotic and disorganized. Many days I felt like I was simply getting by in survival mode. Am I doing a good job at the office? Am I a good mom, wife and friend? Did my boy have breakfast? Are his clothes clean? Does the car have gas in it? Do I have makeup on? Am I going to be late again today? What will we have for dinner? Do we have groceries to make dinner? Is tonight bath night? The questions went on and on and on; and I know many of you face the same questions each and every day.

So all of these questions came into play when the part-time job opportunity came my way. I finally thought, “Well, I would have more time to get a handle on the home front and also would be able to spend more time with my boy?” Since my son came into my world, these are things I wanted more time to focus on. At this fleeting moment in time, these are the things that matter to me most. Family.

After much deliberation with my husband, I decided to apply for the part-time job. I use the word “deliberation,” because that’s exactly what we did: think carefully and often slowly, as about a choice to be made, consult with another or others in a process of reaching a decision, or to consider (a matter) carefully and often slowly, as by weighing alternatives.

We put it all out on the table, made several lists of pros and cons, took a cold, long, hard look at our finances, tried to anticipate the good and bad that comes with change, and it led us to our decision for me to go for it.

When I applied for and successfully landed the part-time job, I was both excited and scared – deer in the headlights scared – when I received word. But having been in my new job for more than three months now, I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And it, too has its own unique set of challenges.

The work I am doing is important and very relevant in my field. This helps me stay current in my industry and keeps me in the center of my field. I also have experienced a newfound sense of appreciation from my co-workers. They each value my time, since I am only available to them part-time, and understand the breadth of knowledge I bring to the position. It feels pretty darn good to be valued and appreciated at work. Let’s be real, it’s the little things that so often mean the most, right?

The biggest challenge I face in the office now is from a time management standpoint. I’ve never really thought of myself as a workaholic, but clearly with this new job I have miscategorized myself! I have a full-time “to-do” list and part-time hours to get it all done. They key to finding my part-time job sweet spot lies in the ability to strategically prioritize tasks and ask for help when I need it. I approach each day with these two management tactics in place. Otherwise, I’d lose my marbles feeling like I am not getting enough done (by my own standards, anyway).

The second biggest challenge has been adjusting to my new part-time salary. NEWSFLASH…the salary isn’t great. I knew it wasn’t going to be great, but I still felt a slight wave of panic pour over me when I got my first paycheck. I had to remind myself that my motivation to go for this job had absolutely nothing to do with money. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

After talking myself off the ledge when seeing that first check, I began to realize all of the ways I was benefitting from my new gig outside of my new (ahem) restructured salary. And you know what I figured out? The salary was truly the only downside to making this move.

My new job is outstanding. My stress level is significantly lower. The work I am doing is meaningful and making a difference. It’s also something I am personally passionate about. I have more time with my amazing son and husband. I have more time to share with my friends; more time to carefully pursue other jobs in my field; maintain a (somewhat) orderly home (how orderly can it really be with a two-year-old Tasmanian Devil on the loose?) Above all, I know taking this leap was the best thing for me to do. I feel so fulfilled in so many ways since making the shift from full-time to part-time. I wake up grateful for each day and look forward to what’s to come.

If you are a full-time working mom thinking about switching to working part-time, I recommend you explore the possibility and consider these three pearls of wisdom.

1. Talk it over with trusted friends and family.

2. Make sure it’s a job you feel you will enjoy doing. Life is far too short to be miserable at work.

3. Take a serious look at your financial situation and understand the implications it will have on your lifestyle (read: no more mani/pedi dates, maybe a few less lunch dates a month, less date nights and no more shopping sprees at Macy’s…or insert your favorite guilty pleasure here). It’s a tough adjustment and you need to be sure it’s a change you are prepared to make and willing to make. It definitely takes some getting used to.

If things begin to add up and you like what you see, then GOOD LUCK as you begin a new adventure!

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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