My husband and I earn similar amounts of money. We’re both hesitant to give up our jobs completely but at the same time don’t want to miss out on the day to day raising of our kids. We are contemplating both working 3 days a week. Do you know anyone who’s done this? -Jessica
[Raises hand.] Me! I’m doing it! My husband and I each work part time, so that we both have lots of time to focus on our son during this, his first year. We’re both self-employed, so that’s a particular kind of “part time” — truth be told, I probably do work close to 40 hours a week, but it’s spread out over 7 days with chunks of time in the evenings and weekends. We do make financial sacrifices to live on what amounts to ONE of our former corporate salaries (living in a small space, not traveling as much as we used to, etc) but it feels really worth it to us to be able to have the spaciousness in our lives to have hours of hangout time with Tavi every day.
But we’re not the only parents doing the part-time straddle! Lots of other Offbeat Mamas are living this way, and I’ve collected some of their thoughts about what makes double-part timing awesome.
Rich in time
When I asked dual-part time families what they gained, everyone agreed: TIME. Christine, whose partner works for the school district as a substitute teacher while she works in corporate compliance, told me:
Which, when you have children, time is the most important thing you could ever hope to give them. My husband and I both have professional degrees under our belts and could go out into the workforce and easily bring home six digits a year…. but all the money in the world won’t give us our children back when they’re adults and feel angst toward us for all the hours we spent working instead of with them. We made the conscious choice to have children, so we’re also making the conscious choice to be the ones who RAISE those children.
Family time egalitarianism
Marlee told me:
The biggest deciding factor for us was just to both get equal time with our son Joel. I took a leave for the first 11 months of our son’s life while Joe literally worked his ass off 70-80 hours a week to keep us going. And after a while he was just really frustrated that he wasn’t seeing Joel for more than an hour or so every day.
I decided I would go back to work, so now we each both work about 30 hours a week. To make this work Joe had to quit his farther away job that made more money, but with what I make and the savings on gas, we are breaking about even with what we do now.
We are both much more happy and feel better about splitting time up equally, especially Joe. Until we started this in January, he had never been alone with his own son. We love it and it has worked out great for us, and even though we are less financially secure we are much much happier.
Work/Life sanity balance for everyone
Hilary, a part-time Restoration Ecologist, told me:
My partner is a nurse, where 3 12-hour days is pretty normal. Bubba really liked that it would give him 4 days at home with our daughter Aspen, who is 10 months old now.
I love my job, and it was really important for me to go back to work. Even thought she’s one of the best things in my life, I didn’t want to be someone who became all about the baby. I wanted balance. I’m one of the lucky people who gets to have a job that puts good things into the world, and it just felt like too much of a sacrifice to give up a job that I get so much fulfillment out of.
Your biggest sacrifices: money & couple time
Several dual-part-time families explained that other than financial concerns, the other big issue is that you do a lot of baby-swapping — which means not a lot of time together as a family, or together just the two of you.
We both work 3 days a week, so we have 1 day off together a week, and if Bubba is working nights, he spends a lot of that day sleeping. I’ve actually at times been jealous of people whose kids are in daycare, because they can work on the same day, and see each other when they are not working.
Marlee agreed, saying:
I think we have gained a lot from making this arrangement, even though we hardly ever get any time as a couple.
And of course there is the money thing, but as Christina said:
I don’t feel like we have lost, or go without, anything at all. We use cloth diapers on our youngest, which saves a TON of money. We only have one car, which saves a ton MORE money in gas, insurance, and maintenance, and we are very frugal. Not cheap…. frugal. Our children still wear name-brands… we’re just really conscious of WHEN we buy.
Part-time for now
One thing to keep in mind is that being a dual-part-time family can be a choice you make for a given period of time. Angela explained,
I decided to go back full time when my youngest started preschool. They seemed ready … they both adjusted very well to preschool and it felt like it was a good time to make the shift. My career had totally stalled when I was part time and I was ready to get back on track. I really like my job and have been happy going back full time.
For me, I was firmly dedicated to part-time work before Tavi was born (I’d much rather have more time than more money!) … but the part-time philosophy felt even more urgent for me with a baby. I’m not one to romanticize low income living, but if you can re-arrange your life to live with less in exchange for a wealth of time with your family … I SAY DO IT.
Mamas, do any of you have experience with both you and your partner working part time? How’s it working out for you?