The Science of Part-Time Work – (the best days to work)

Don’t mock the title, there is genuinely a science to the best days to work part-time!

She had me at ‘pentapeptides’. You know who I mean – thingy in the advert who promised to eradicate wrinkles if you used her magic cream! No-one had heard of the pentathingymajigs before, but suddenly a product is backed by science and we’re all believers!

And I wondered, surely there’s a science behind the all important-question of which are the best days to work if you return back to work part time?

Life after maternity leave…

The reality is, that although maternity leave is quite possibly one of the craziest, funniest and most treasured times of your life, it has an expiry date. Recent research from the Office of National Statistics suggest that 90% of Mums work, with just one in ten being full time Mothers.sci

And anyone who has looked after a child for an hour, let alone a lifetime will fully appreciate how ‘delightfully demanding’ the job of being a full time parent is.

I recently returned to work (yes part time) to flashes of sympathy and hugs from others in my office. The gestures were well meant and lovingly received, but also met with surprise when I explained that work is the easy part of my day. What – I get to go to the toilet on my own AND have Waitrose deliver me a sandwich that I can without having a munchkin tugging at my slippers. What’s not to love.

baby-933097_640You are not alone, as Michael Jackson sang…

I imagine many Mums and Dads are going through the same mental dilemma  when I first contemplated returning to work. I had put the idea of it far back in the depths of my memory, procrastinating over it until HR came knocking on my inbox to know when to add me to payroll. Oh money how I missed you!

My time was up, 365 long, exhausting and beautiful days had passed, it was time to resume duty, resurrect the old me.

I decided that returning part-time would give me the best balance possible. Four days with baby, three days with normal people, no more time with the NCT massive!

But which three days should I work? Well here’s my science…

A.Work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

Why work the good days of the week, when you can work the ones that are already depressing. Plus it means you have a four day weekend to look forward to. And most important of all you get work over and done with, rather than have it to ‘dread’ in the coming days.

B. Work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

When everyone’s depressed on a Sunday, it’s a treat to know you don’t have to join the rat race just yet. Plus working the hump days of the week does mean that you’ll always the choice of going away for a long weekend.

C. Work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

There are some bonuses to working Friday’s – one is that you can dress more casually, the commute is always quieter and everyone’s in a jovial mood. The downside, when everyone’s leaving the office early for Pimms on a Friday afternoon, you’re furiously trying to finish your workload, now squished in to three days.

D. Mash it up

Of course you can just go crazy and pick three days not in a row, but that never appealed to me. It felt like it dragged the working week out, so was never something I contemplated.

What would MDD do?!

In the end I went with Option A. However, had I known, I think I’d have gone for Option B. Why? Well, what no one tells you is the other science bit, that…

  1. When you work part-time your bank holidays are pro-rata’d and guess which days most bank holidays fall on. You guessed it Monday, see this pretty diagram I made!


  1. If anyone’s profiteering from your work it’s nurseries. Not only do they charge a fortune for passing on every virus to your child, but they also charge you for care on Bank Holidays. Oh, even though they don’t open. Go figure. It’s wrong and unfair and makes me very angry.

So there you go, science in a nutshell. Which days did you return?

First published in my blog for The Huffington Post Parents.

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