I recently decided to go back to work full time. My son is almost a year old and has been in daycare part time since 6 months old. I'm ready to go back, but I'm cautious on how much I can handle as a professional and as a mom of two.
In my pre-kid life it was all about the biggest company, the highest salary, the most responsibility. But now with two little ones depending on me, I needed to adjust my mindset while job hunting. Is there flexibility if the kids are sick? Are there health care benefits? Is my boss family-friendly?
Here are five things I was able to consider during my family-friendly job hunt - and hopefully you will be able to as well!
Location, Location, Location
If you have the choice, try and find a job close to home. I've commuted for over a decade 45 minutes or more each way. This isn't a problem when it's just you or you and your spouse, but when there are little ones waiting for your hugs and dinner, those minutes are precious. Setup two job searches: one within 10 miles and one within 25 miles, so that you're not missing out on any opportunities.
The term work-life balance can mean a lot of things, but for me it really means the time away from work. Is there enough vacation days and/or sick time to support myself and my family? If an employer has a limited PTO package (2 weeks or less) think again. You know how often your kids get sick, school is closed, your husband is traveling, and how often you visit Grandma and Grandpa. If you want to be successful as a Mom and a Professional, you need to have enough time off so you aren’t constantly asking for “favors.”
With Obamacare most likely on the chopping block, employer-provided health benefits are once again very important. If your spouse has health benefits for your family that's fantastic! It does allow you to consider other options, but it doesn't hurt to choose an employer who can also offer you a good benefits plan just in case you need it. You never know. And if an employer offers no benefits, then you should probably put them closer to the bottom of your list.
Your Boss & Coworkers
When you're in the interview process you will have the chance to meet your direct supervisor, but meeting your coworkers is also important. Ask to meet your team or people you'll work with if it's not offered in the interview process. This will help you visualize yourself in the job and you’ll get a feeling if you'll have the support you need to be successful. They don't have to be your best friend, but having similar values or personality traits will help you enjoy what you do!
One of the companies I interviewed with described the work schedule as a flexible “California Plan,” which basically means we’re welcome to start the day as early/late as we like. Having the choice of what time you start work is important, especially when balancing daycare pickups or school program start times, etc. For example, I feed the kids breakfast and drop off at daycare every day and my husband picks them up after school. So a late start is important for me for my work-life balance.
Also having the understanding that it's about the quality of work, not the hours put in is a fantastic perk if management abides by this concept. While interviewing, pay attention to cues about working late, at night, on weekends, to determine if this is a standard or the exception.
I wish you best of luck in your job hunt, and to finding the right balance for you and your family! You can read more of my parenting blogs at TheSquirmyWormy.com.