It’s Not Just Working Moms — Flexible Schedules Help Dads, Too

This isn’t exactly a shocking news, but Baylor University just published a study that concluded “Flexible Schedule is Key to Keeping Working Moms on the Job“:

Women who return to work after giving birth are more likely to stay on the job if they have greater control over their work schedules, according to a Baylor University study. Researchers also found that job security and the ability to make use of a variety of their job skills leads to greater retention of working moms, while the impact of work-related stress on their physical and mental health causes greater turnover.

The study is published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

“Having a flexible schedule is an important element necessary to decrease working mom turnover because it can be used when work demands arise,” said Dawn S. Carlson, Ph.D., study author, professor of management and H. R. Gibson Chair of Organizational Development at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, Waco.

I was a full-time reporter when I got pregnant with our first child and, after agonizing over the decision, I ended up not returning to my job, largely because of the commute and the lack of a flexible schedule. I don’t regret the decision one bit because I got to spend more time with my child. I was lucky enough to breast feed both kids for over a year, something that our pediatrician still high-fives me for every time I come in to her office. The funny thing is that my decision not to go back to work was even the right career decision — now that I was no longer tied to an office, I was able to explore freelance opportunities and start writing about the kinds of topics that I personally cared about.

I do wonder if I would have stayed on the job, had the schedule been much more forgiving. I certainly would have been tempted. However, I was only able to make that decision to freelance because my husband was employed with good health insurance and able to fully support my decision. That meant my husband has been doing the nine to five grind (read: eight to six grind).

However, my husband landed a great job a few months ago with much more time off and a great deal more scheduling flexibility. It’s a big relief for the whole family. So while flexible schedules might be the key to getting mothers back on the job, my advice is to also think about what you can do to make the father’s situation more flexible. In the age of telecommuting and high speed internet, more flexible careers should be a realistic possibility.

So my advice for working mothers is to not just do what you can to adapt your own employment situation, but don’t forget to take a hard look at the possibility of getting your husband get into a career place where his flex scheduling can support you and the children as well.

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