*This is a collaborative post
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When Harry and Heidi were both young, I was really pretty lucky when it came to childcare. We lived a short walk away from Steve's parents (and his mum was retired and always happy to help) and my mum worked at home as a foster carer and childminder and was also available whenever needed. I decided that I wanted to work part time and luckily, my employers at the time were pretty flexible and we were able to work something out that suited us both. But then things changed.......
When Jack was born we moved to Cramlington and my mum started an employed role as a carer and was no longer able to help as much with childcare. Steve and I were barely earning above minimum wage and we definitely could not afford childcare for three children along with all of our other bills. We really didn't know what to do.
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I was lucky and I was able to find a job that allowed me to work 2 x 12 hour shifts over the weekend and stay at home with my three children Monday-Friday. Steve and his parents would look after Harry, Heidi and Jack over the weekend and although it worked well, I did start to feel like I was missing out on a lot. Imagine spending just 5 weekends a year with your family - it's horrible and not something I wanted to continue. I didn't feel like I had a choice though as I couldn't find a single job that allowed me to work 9am-11am when Jack was at nursery or fit flexibly around Steve's 2 weekly shift pattern. It turns out I'm not alone and according to Hire Me My Way, there are 400,000 unemployed people who are unable to accept a job unless they can work part time/flexibly. It's really tough when you have kids and commitments.
As I was at home Monday-Friday, I was able to start building up my blog and start turning it into a business. I learned more about the earning potential of blogging and it seemed like the perfect solution - with three children at home, perhaps working towards being fully self-employed and working at home would be the answer for us.
After a bit of research and a pep-talk from my friends, I decided to formally ask my employer if I could work flexibly and reduce my hours. They agreed and over a period of around 16 months, I gradually reduced my working hours until I was only working 8 hours on a Sunday. Again, I was very lucky that my employer agreed to reduced part time & flexible hours. I often wonder what would have happened if they'd have turned my application down. My blog certainly wouldn't be where it is today that's for sure and I could still be working 2 x 12 hour shifts with no quality family time and feeling pretty trapped.
The Hire Me My Way campaign really strikes a chord with me. If I hadn't have been able to start a career as a self-employed blogger, I would have been trapped working hours that weren't at all family friendly with no way out. 1.5 million people are trapped in part-time jobs below their skill level because it's just so difficult to find a new job that allows flexible working from the outset. I don't think I've ever come across a job advertisement that states a job can be flexible around you - it's always the other way around. In fact a lot of jobs these days state you must be available to work any hour of any day. Hire Me My Way are calling on employers to listen to people's needs and open up to part-time working and flexibility, right from day one of hire. I honestly believe that employers who do this will benefit in the long run as a happy workplace is definitely a productive workplace.
I think it's important to mention that the need for flexible and part-time working isn't exclusive to females and mothers. In a few years time, Steve would love to decrease his hours in order to fulfil some of his non-career goals and for us to travel more. I know it's going to be tough for him to do this and when the time comes, we'll definitely be using the advice and support provided by Hire Me My Way.
It did all work out for me in the end and every day I am thankful that I've been able to create a successful career for myself working from home. I can't ever imagine not having the flexibility that being self-employed provides. Self-employment does have it's own challenges though, and it's certainly not for everyone. If you'd like to learn more about Hire Me My Way and how you can add your voice to their campaign, you can sign up and learn more here.
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