Part time work - what are your options?

Once your kids are back to school or starting school for the first time, you may wish to consider working part time.

More people are choosing to work part time than ever before. The highest percentage is women with families, but almost every category of person can be found in part time employment. Part time is generally considered to be a regular 10-30 hours per week.

Fortunately, the labour market has become more accommodating to those who want part time work. Some mothers are able to have children and keep their job by cutting back on their hours for one or more years. Other people use the time to make a whole career or lifestyle change. In this way their career is not put on hold - it's just going at a different speed. So what are the advantages in working part time and what options are available to parents who seek the elusive work-life balance?

Advantages of working part time

Time invested wisely Part time employment allows you to increase time spent with children, care for aging parents, attend to family business matters, and, for more independence and freedom, pursue other career interests, hobbies, leisure-time activities and even community service.

Work around your family A mother working mornings and early afternoons can be home for the kids after school. Those who work only two or hree full days per week still have several days each week to do other things. You could even consider working evenings or weekends when the children are with your partner or family.

Career continuity You will have something to put on your resume so there's not a huge gap when and if you do decide to go back to full time work. Don't be afraid if it's not lucrative, the experience and the contacts you make will help you in the long run.

Financial and emotional benefits One of the main advantages of part time work is that you will have more time with your children and more disposable income.

So what are your job options?

Consider Temporary Work

Many mothers rejoining the workforce may take a "side door," that is, through a temporary agency. Temps are generally hired by the agency and then placed in appropriate jobs for a set period of time. For people with office skills temping can be a win-win situation. You don't waste time interviewing and waiting for responses. You are exposed to different workplaces and learn where you may like to work in the future. You are free to turn down a job that doesn't suit you and time off can be negotiated easily.

Temping is also a good way to increase your network, just in case you intend to return full time in the near future.

Job Sharing

With part time work becoming more popular, job sharing has become more common. Job sharing occurs when two people, each working half-time, perform a job that was previously handled by one person. Job sharing opportunities are rarely advertised. They generally occur when someone who wants to reduce her hours seeks out someone either within or outside the organisation who also has the ability and desire to work part time. Those who job share report that it typically works quite well, but it takes a tremendous amount of coordination between the two who share the position.

Home and Family Care Referrals

Growth in the outsourcing of home and family services has seen demand outstrip the supply of cleaners, housekeepers, babysitters, nannies, in home nurses, catering professionals and party attendants. These are typically jobs requiring skills you have already developed that can fit in and around school hours. They are professions that are typically female dominated.

Danielle Robertson, CEO of DIAL-AN-ANGEL Pty Limited, Australia's leading home and family care Agency says they are always in need of suitably skilled and caring Angels. Danielle believes the work is perfect for mothers to schedule around their family’s commitments. "Angels may elect to work any three hours or more - on days and at times suitable for them. It’s even their choice whether they work during school vacations."

There is a huge range of opportunities in this area with something to suit almost everyone’s background, skills and experience:

Cleaning and Housekeeping – casual cleaning services such as spring cleans, moving in and moving out cleans, ironing, meal preparation, shopping and errands

Functions and events – assistants to prepare cocktails, heat up hors d'oeuvres, serve finger-style food and who will take care of all the other details associated with a private event or dinner party

Childcare – daytime and evening babysitters, corporate functions

In home nursing – personal care attendants, convalescent and respite care

– housekeeping, meal preparation, shopping and errands, companion care, personal care attendants

Pet care
– brushing, combing, exercise and/or play, loving companionship, feeding, walking

Caretaking - watering plants, collecting the mail, sweeping paths and patio areas, maintaining cleanliness and tidiness both inside and outside the home, turning lights on and off and generally maintaining a 'presence' in the home

Danielle explains that a large number of Angels are mothers who either always possessed these skills or who have been trained but do not want to re-enter the workforce on a full-time basis. "Nursing and childcare are high stress areas and many women do not want to take on this level of stress in addition to managing a home and family. DIAL-AN-ANGEL encourages them to utilise their skills and experience but at a pace and level that suits them. Angels and clients are happy because it can be a match made in heaven!"

Part time work can be a great way to keep your hand in, develop new talents, network with others and it can bring the extra income that your family can surely use. You can still be available for your family which you could not do if you were working full-time.

Remember, though, any job by its very nature will take time and remove you even temporarily out of your own home environment. Carefully weigh up your options, choose a family friendly workplace and then make your decision.

Dena Blackman founded DIAL-AN-ANGEL Pty Limited 40 years ago and today it is the only national agency specialising in the provision of home and family care. Looking for work? Visit