How do I find a job that fits around my children?
Lots of parents think jobs that fit around school hours are as rare as hens’ teeth. It’s true that the market is smaller than for full-time roles but it might not be as difficult to find that elusive school-hours-only job as you think. You just need to know where to look.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on your quest for the perfect balance, along with some advice from Mumsnetters who have trodden the path before. And check out the Mumsnet Jobs forum for current term-time vacancies.
Finding a job in a school
It stands to reason that if you want to earn money during school hours or term times only, your best bet will be finding a job in a school.
- “I work in a big secondary school doing exams admin. Other school-hours roles could be office staff, catering, cleaning, reception, finance, IT, various departmental support staff or TAs. Each depends on the school and their needs.”
- “I work 8am to 4.30pm, term time only, as a child protection and attendance officer. I started out as a teaching assistant, progressed to being a behaviour support worker and then a learning mentor before moving into my current role.”
Other school roles suggested by Mumsnetters include midday supervisors, home-school link workers, school marketing managers and human resources.
Finding school-hours jobs in other parts of education
Working in education can often mean long holidays and short working days. If you're interested in education but don't want to work in a school, you could consider one of the following settings:
Preschools – “I work in a preschool. I started off as an unqualified volunteer and did a part-time college course at the age of 43. I’m full time, term time only now. I love it and it means I get time with my kids, too.”
Universities – “I work part-time in a university in administration. I earn around £16k (£32k full-time equivalent) for 18.5 hours over three days and can be pretty flexible within that.”
Other roles within universities suggested by Mumsnetters include library work, lecturing and student support services.
Educational companies – “The company I work for is a supplier to educational establishments. A lot of the sales staff work term time only and the company seems OK with that as school holidays are a very quiet time for them.”
Where to look for part-time work
Competition for part-time work is fierce, but a lot of jobs offer flexible hours and legally you’re entitled to ask your boss if you can work flexibly.
Mumsnetters suggested the following sectors for family-friendly working hours:
The Civil Service – "I'm a civil servant – part time, term time only. I do 30 hours per week (9am to 3pm each day). My kids (year 7) leave the house at 8am to walk to school which starts at 8.30. They finish at 3.20 and get home about 3.45, around about the same time as me.
Local government/council – “I work for local government in a part-time admin job. I manage to officially take off all school holidays bar a week-ish – and I usually manage to wangle the rest by switching days. Not the most exciting of careers but I love my work/life balance.”
Charities – “I do a really flexible job for a charity, from home. I set my own hours, manage my own workload. Holidays are not an issue – all good!”
Small businesses – “I work part-time for a small company. My boss likes part-time mums and says we are often more productive than full-time staff. I don't have school holidays off but my employers are very flexible.”
Hospitality – “Loads of people at our local bar get shifts to match any number of possible hours, so you have all sorts of people working there: parents that can do during the day, students that can work evenings, full-time workers… Anyone who can do a few hours here and there for extra cash.”
Be your own boss
Can't muster enthusiasm for any of the above? How about starting your own business?
Private tutoring, freelance writing and working as a self-employed cleaner are just some of the ways Mumsnetters earn a crust while the kids are at school.
- “I run my own business. I employ managers to do all the day-to-day running so I don't actually need to be there all the time, and can work school hours and only a couple of days a week in the holidays.”
- “I've set up my own business: a swim school. I teach preschoolers and adults only, daytime only, term time only.”
- “I work as a cake decorator. It's great to fit round the kids. The only downside is there is a lot of weekend work – cake deliveries, wedding fairs, consultations etc.”
- “I started dog-walking when our twins started reception for just a couple of hours a day, and I focused on households with youngish children as my clients. If I did need to work on a school holiday day, I'd take my doggy clients with us on outings – there are more dog-friendly days out than you may think!”
How to find jobs working from home
Working from home can be another great way to arrange your paid work hours so that you’re free for your children before and after school. More and more employers are offering the option to work from home to help women get back into the workplace.
“Being based at home is ideal as I get to hang out with my daughter until 9am and then see her at lunchtime and am here for her when she gets home in the evenings.”
If you’re worried you might feel isolated working from home every day, discuss your options with your boss – it could be that you opt to spend two days a week in the office instead. Or work school hours in the office and additional hours to make it up to full time from home. The possibilities are endless.
Are looking for a new, home-based role? We've got plenty on Mumsnet Jobs.