The Power of Three – Why 3 days per week is the ideal scenario for working mums

All working mums dream about the ‘magical’ 3-day per week job and now research confirms that 2-3 days per week is actually the perfect balance for a fulfilling career and family life. A recent Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) study found that women who worked 15-24 hours per week felt their job actually improved their time with their family and made them a better parent. Once women started working more than 3 days per week, the balance started to tip and they could see detrimental impacts on family life.

Workinicole-cubbin-headshot-2-150x150ngMumsAustralia.com.au also asking women ‘What is the perfect number of days to work for a mum?’. The survey found that 44% voted 3 days; 14% 4 days; 12% 2 days and 0% 1 day. Surprisingly only 3% saw 5 days as the perfect number. But why is 3 the perfect number?

Before children, I had a high-pressure career in Banking, both in Sydney and London. The birth of my first child made me reconsider my priorities and whilst I still wanted to have a career, my little girl was now my top priority. Long hours and a long commute were out of the question. I decided to move away from Financial Services and firstly took a role with the charity National Childbirth Trust (NCT) in London and then started my own business, Little Eats, when I returned to Sydney. I loved having the ability to enjoy fulfilling work but also spending plenty of time with my children. I love taking them to swimming, ballet and just hanging out at home.

I was lucky enough to be offered a Marketing Manager position with a start-up company called Juggle Street (Uber for babysitting) in early 2015. With flexible hours and the option to work one day from home, it was perfect me. I now relish my 2 days a week with Miss 3, picking up Miss 5 from school at 3pm and doing reading groups at school. For me, this is the perfect work/life balance.

So what are my tips for making 2-3 days per week work for you?

  1. Choose your role carefully: Part time roles may be harder to come by than full time but don’t de-value your skills and experience. Hold out for the right role, as you will be happier in the long run.
  2. Agree scope and hours upfront: Make sure you and the employer are on the same page from the outset. For example, you could negotiate to leave early certain days to do school pick-ups and then make up the hours in the evening or during the week. Working from home is also a great option to cut down on commute time and increase productivity.
  3. Include childcare costs in your monthly budget: Childcare may be a substantial portion of your pay so make sure you factor this in.
  4. Make sure extra work is paid for or you receive time off in lieu: Agree the scope of your role upfront and try to avoid working on your days off unless completely necessary. Re-assess and discuss your role with your manager every 3 months.
  5. Be in control and organised: Organise your week in advance by doing grocery shopping online, batch cooking on a Sunday and preparing lunches in advance.

That perfect part-time role is out there for every mum. Remember to keep communication lines open with friends and old colleagues. Often these roles are not advertised and word of mouth is key!