How to know when to compromise family for work

work and family

work and familyWe working mums often have quite a job juggling everything. While the last thing we want to compromise is our family, there are times when it’s temporarily necessary or worthwhile. This should help you decide.


Financial necessity is one key area when you might work extra hours for overtime pay. You might temporarily go from being part-time to full-time. The key thing to determine here is the difference between need and want.

Working too many hours and being unavailable for your children just for a new fashion item, snazzier sofa or holiday isn’t worth it. Belongings are a poor substitute for human contact. Sometimes, however, you might work extra for a one-off important occasion: your wedding, the deposit for a house, a parent’s milestone birthday. But do decide how important it is.

If your partner is made redundant and you’re able to temporarily go full-time or increase your hours, it’s probably worthwhile. What you can’t give to your children, he can in your absence. Once he’s reemployed you can resume your original hours.

Peak business periods

All companies have their busier periods. Whether it’s year end, an important project or a key sales period, the pressure’s on.

If this is your workplace, plan around it in advance. Accept you’ll need to do extra, and explain this to your family.

If you need the support of childcare, friends or family, give them good warning. Get housework done beforehand and then don’t worry if it drops off briefly. Plan meals in advance, and let yourself off if it’s not all homemade.

Planning for this instead of fighting it will keep your home running smoothly, let your children know where they stand, and gain your partner’s support. And professionally you’ll be acknowledged for being committed and hardworking.

Leave from work

Whether it’s a pre-booked holiday or the Christmas break, it’s normally busier before and after you’re away. Plan ahead at work as much as possible, as well as family and home life as above if need be.

Maternity leave is a bigger hurdle, assuming you’ll hand over to someone. So start writing your handover document months in advance when the pressure’s off and you have more energy. Then keep adding bits as they come to mind, and nothing will drop off.

Juggling work during school holidays is also a hard one. Some companies allow you to work fewer hours in the holidays and make up for it in term times. Plan your workload around it, accepting that before the summer holidays may be a bottleneck.

Starting a new role

Even if the role is part-time or predominantly home-based, you’ll probably need to do extra hours in the office initially.

Especially if you’re starting a new area or level of responsibility, you’ll need to spend time around your mentors and team-mates to absorb the terminology and procedures.

Training is often a part of this process. Courses are often on set days, for longer hours or in a different location. Be as flexible as you can to accommodate these. It will show commitment and eagerness to learn, while getting you up to speed quickly. By showing flexibility on your end, your employer will also be more likely to be flexible when you then need it.

So accept there’ll be an initial period where you’re less available for your family. With the support of your partner, your children will readily accept a temporary shift in their family pattern, and it will help them to understand a little about professional life.