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The strange shift to working school hours

July 10, 2019

Back in the day I was decidedly not a morning person.  It was genuinely hard going for me to get myself to work.  My preference was always to work ‘a bit later’ to ‘a bit later’.  My two charity jobs were pretty flexible and I usually pitched up about 9.30am for those, but self employment gave me the chance to do whatever I wanted and I would tend to start about 10am.  I’d work a bit, then have a lunch break, then back to my desk for the afternoon.  That would typically mean that the afternoon started about 2pm for all practical purposes.  That’s the earliest time I’d be scheduling calls or meetings or whatever.  Then I’d work another three or four hours before home time.

These days I don’t work full time anymore, and this is fine because I simply (!) take on the right amount of work for the time I want to spend.  I’ve done this for four years and it has been fine.  I’m hopeful that my clients haven’t noticed just how part-time I have been because I have continued to deliver the same high quality product and service.

I am currently working around my son’s pre-school nursery schedule, where he does some short days (9am til noon) and some long days (9am til 3pm).  On those long days I feel the luxury of a great big long uninterrupted spell of work… which needs to be winding down from 2pm so I can be sure not to miss pick-up.  For contingency reasons I’d certainly never schedule anything with a later finish time than 2pm.

And that’s the school day, isn’t it, so that’s going to remain my cut-off for the foreseeable future.  Albeit a nice predictable same-every-day from August when my boy enters Primary 1.

I realised the other day what a shift I’ve had to make with this and how this impacts on what I can achieve.  Mainly because even on my ‘long’ days I’m not working during other people’s afternoons.  It is a weird thought that I am finishing up when other people are trickling in after lunch.

It has been working OK so far, as I generally just say what I can do and other people almost always just go with that.  So instead of saying “I can’t do any day after 2pm” or “aaargh I’ve got a childcare nightmare” either of which might draw attention to my limitations, I say “How about 10am on Monday?” and no-one bats an eyelid.

Luckily I also have three very flexible alternatives (husband / childminder / After School Club) that I can draft in if I really have to do a ‘proper’ afternoon.

But the world isn’t set up for part time working, really, and certainly not working around childcare.  It’s hard to know whether to do it more ‘visibly’ in order to force people to understand that there’s plenty of us out here doing it, or whether to try to keep my personal life out of my business.



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