How many days should you work a week?


Who would ever choose to work full time?

I’ve done it all – I’ve worked 5, 4 and 3 days a week. I’ve done short-term contracts and I’ve worked freelance from home. But none of it has been easy (apart from the full time before kids, and even that was had its moments, with redundancies, missed promotions and dodgy managers. But it all gets so much harder once you have children…

So, if you do want to work, how do you decide how many days or hours to put in?

  1. Be rigid

    It sounds counter-intuitive but you need to really think what you want. What kind of lifestyle you want and can afford. For many of us we have no choice – financial pressures or our careers mean we have to work certain days or hours, but if you are flexible, it’s worth really thinking what would be your ideal. If you’re happier working from home. If you only want to do two days a week. If you want short term contracts. And keep that in mind all the time you are job hunting.

  2. Be assertive

    I went to a Mumsnet Workfest in 2014 before I went back to work after child number 3. (Here’s  a link to this year’s event). It was one of the best things I did (apart from taking out a premium LinkedIn trial). The one thing that stuck in my mind was Justine Roberts urging us all to ask employers for what we wanted. Most jobs are advertised as full time – unless you ask (and demonstrate how you’d do the job flexibly) no-one’s going to offer you what you really want.

  3. Be honest to yourself

    Whatever you choose, don’t be judged. Do whatever works for you, whether you want to work full time, to look after your children, work part time, work freelance or take a career break. People love to judge (and usually because they’re jealous). At the end of the day it’s your life. There are plenty of sites that can help such as Timewise Jobs for part time positions. Do plenty of research.

  4. Be flexible

    When I went back after my first son, I worked three days a week, then I got a promotion and it went up  to 4. It was a long commute and my boy was in childcare 8-6. Then I took redundancy, had child number 2 and worked freelance two days a week earning just enough to cover childcare. I had a few years off, then when number 3 was 11 months old I went back full time to a new job. Ideally I would have worked three or four days a month but I knew the job required a full time position and I wanted it. I now do four days a week in the same job. I asked after a year and they said yes.

  5. Decide as a family

    Whatever you decide, both parents have to be happy with the situation. Many parents I know work full time in jobs they hate and would love to go part time, but financially it’s not an option. Others want their partner to spend more time at home. But if one parent feels they carrying the whole financial burden and don’t want to, or one is prevented from returning to work, it’s bound to cause problems. Whether one of you works and one doesn’t or you both work part time, whatever you decide, it has to work for both of you (if possible) to avoid situations like this

How did you decide how many days to work? Was it necessity? Or did you get what you wanted. What’s your ideal?

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