Walk the Line: Balancing Part-Time Work as a Full-Time Mother

Published Wednesday, March 30, 2011 2:14 PM

Just as good fences make for good neighbors, boundaries between work and home life make for greater productivity and less stress. Yet in our 24/7 always-on-call-world, clear boundaries between work and home life can be hard to erect. For moms working part-time, or at home, the challenge is tougher still: how to maintain a productive, professional work environment when the sippy cup set demands attention.

The Ultimate Juggle

In a recent New Yorker article comedienne Tina Fey calls the topic of working motherhood "a tap dance recital in a minefield." Fey takes comedic liberties with her description of working motherhood but she's spot on about the difficult dance.

Set work hours. By establishing set work hours (either the days you head into the office or at home hours of 9 to 3pm or noon to 5pm, whatever works) you can clearly signal to your family when you are not accessible. Setting up a framework of regular work hours also allows you to carve out protected family time, preventing the problem of "work creep," the phenomenon where work starts creeping into all hours of the day.

Establish a dedicated workspace. Try to find a quiet area of the home for your office (preferably with a door) and let kids know that a closed door means do-not-disturb. Establish a hands-off policy for work supplies in this area to prevent computer paper from becoming art projects or the lap top from being commandeered by tweens.

Nanny 911: Have a stable of babysitting options on speed-dial. Working from home doesn't mean you can work while the kids scamper about or while you drive carpool. School-aged children require babysitting after 3pm and the sippy cup set needs constant supervision; be sure to outsource that task to paid help so you can concentrate on work.

Need more ideas for making the juggle work? We've assembled some useful resources for working parents. Think of it as your toolkit for sanity.


Finally, here are some real life case stories of moms making part-time jobs work for them. Good Housekeeping has assembled some inspirational stores in Make Full Time Money Working Part-Time.  Tips include, letting personal calls go to voicemail during work hours and not mixing home activities during work hours: i.e. keep play dates and chores for non-office hours.


Do you have any great tools that help balance the demands of work and parenting? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook  page.

by Candie Harris

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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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