Where Will We Ever Find Part-Time, Professional Work?
Recently I ran into a former colleague of mine in my company’s parking garage. I knew she’d recently had a baby, but I couldn’t remember when. I recognized the frenzied look of a new mother who’d only recently begun leaving her babe in daycare. We started talking, and I realized this was her first week back to work. My stomach lurched for her. Even after three and a half years, I still get that feeling sometimes, but that first week back, I felt physically ill all day long.
I sent her the link to my blog and instructed her to read the archives in summer 2004 if she wanted to feel some solidarity. Later that day, I got a thank-you e-mail and a plea if I ever, EVER heard of ANY reasonable job that required fewer than 40 hours a week in the office to please, please tell her.
Like I’d share.
It seems to me that only two possibilities exist for professional/managerial working moms: white-collar full-time or a hop over the wall to pink-collar or retail part-time. Unless you’re in the medical profession, it’s very difficult to find a professional job that requires a three-day-a-week commitment. Why is that?
There are a few sites professing to help the “untapped” workforce of formerly professional stay-at-home or work-at-home moms. To name a few:
Kelli from My Circus Life writes:
At work, there was a note about someone at our corporate office who was leaving. I only worked with him once in a while to set up meetings, so really, it doesn't immediately effect me, the reason for his leaving did though. He's taking another job in another company that will allow him to be home with his family more.
That's when it hit me.
I wanna do that.
Who cares about working for multi-million dollar companies? I want to stay home and have time to work out and clean the house thoroughly and do laundry. I want to be able to play "room mother" at my kids' school and sign up to volunteer at school functions and be there for my kids in a way I can't with a full-time job. (And yeah, I also want the full-time paycheck, oh and still having the insurance benefits would be nice, too...)
As blogging and citizen journalism become more mainstream and respected, these forms of writing may continue to open up possibilities for working at home. This format is especially useful for parents, as you can blog pretty much anywhere with a high-speed connection, and it can be done in bits and pieces more easily than say, writing an operations manual (I’ve done them –they’re hard).
Mary from Them’s My Sentiments writes:
Why am I going on about this? Well, because of the possibility of earning money through blogging, whether this involves putting advertisements on your blog page, writing on set themes for payment or getting franchised. I'm all for it. It's validation in the one case and freedom in the other. No one kvetches about the fact that Dickens wrote his novels in installments for payment or that Rockwell did magazine illustrations. 'Commercial art' is art!
Regardless of where working from home takes us, I do hope more parents (not just mommies) are able to do it in the future. Even if you still have to use childcare, being at home means freedom to a lot of people. It means being able to make cookies for homeroom or pop over to your child’s school over your lunch hour to visit with a teacher. It means forgoing a long commute, decreasing your carbon footprint and your blood pressure with every minute not spent on a crowded freeway. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as “having it all,” but for many, working from home means a way to contribute some money when full-time childcare isn’t within financial reach. We need to support each other in this initiative and demand fair market prices for our writing or other work-from-home work. The more public validation we lend to telecommuting, the faster corporate America will get with the program. The world’s still changing, one household at a time.
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