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how to ask for flexible work hours
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Juggling career, childcare and distance learning at the same time is no small feat, and working moms in particular are shouldering the burden of the unprecedented pressures created by the pandemic. Many moms have already been forced to leave the workforce because of these conflicting demands. A recent FlexJobs survey found that since the pandemic started, 17% of working mothers quit their jobs during the pandemic—nearly 1 in 5, compared to 10% of working fathers who reported the same thing—1 in 10. A full quarter of working mothers have also had to reduce their hours.

If you're one of the thousands of working mothers trying to figure out how to manage it all, or if you have found that working flexible hours has been a big win for you and you'd like to continue post-pandemic, then it's time to consider formally asking your boss for a flexible schedule. Having more control over when you're able to work during the day can help create the critical space that is needed to meet the demands of your career, childcare and distance learning.

The good news is that given all the ways that COVID-19 has changed the world (and is still changing it), the pandemic may be a tipping point for flexible work. Your boss may very well be more receptive to your request than they would have been in the past.

Here are 5 tips to help you negotiate for flexible work options from your employer.


1. Know the type of flex work you are looking for.

There are a number of flexible work options that may help parents better balance all their responsibilities during this unusual time. Before you approach your employer about potential use of a flexible work option, think about which type of flex work is best for your needs and responsibilities.

Remote work: Also known as telecommuting or working from home, this option means you may work the same hours as usual but without going into an office.

Flexible schedule: This type of flex work gives a worker the ability to shift their work hours depending on the needs of the day.

Alternative schedule: This flexible work arrangement denotes a change in schedule with set hours that aren't necessarily traditional office hours, for example, working 6 am to 3 pm, or 12 pm to 8 pm.

Split shift: In this flextime arrangement, some hours are worked earlier in the day and some later. For example, you may work a first shift from 6 am to 10 am, then a second shift from 4 pm to 8 pm, leaving core daytime hours open for parental responsibilities.

Part-time: Part-time work means a reduced schedule where you work fewer than 40 hours each week.

Compressed work week: While you'll still clock the same number of hours per week, a compressed workweek shortens the number of days on which you work. A common setup is four days of 10 hours each. If the arrangement is company-wide, the office may be closed completely one day per week.

Spread out schedule: Consider this the inverse of the compressed work week—for example, workers could work seven days per week but only for 5-6 hours per day.

Freelance: This option allows you to work as a contractor versus as an employee, which may allow for increased flexibility but perhaps at the cost of some of the benefits of full-time employees, such as health care or unemployment insurance.

2. Prepare and perfect your written plan.

Schedule a specific time to make your request and present a written proposal to your boss or manager. If you want to work remotely, break down your daily tasks and responsibilities, and clearly explain how each can be performed remotely.

Describe your home office so your boss understands you're serious about your work-from-home arrangements. Come up with a few potential flexible work scenarios to propose, so your manager feels like they're a part of the process and can make the best choice for the team. Present answers to questions you know will arise, such as how you'll maintain responsiveness to clients and coworkers.

3. Make the business case.

In your proposal, stay focused on specific benefits to the employer and why your particular flexible work arrangement will result in higher productivity from you and make you a better employee. You could also cite stats about broader savings to the company, which appeal to the interests of your manager and their bottom-line concerns versus. focusing on how it will make your life easier.

One way to start the conversation is like this:

"I'd like to get a good sense of what my flexible work options are right now. The more I'm able to shift my schedule, the better I'll be able to meet work priorities and stay productive during this time."

4. Suggest a trial.

Offer a trial period for your flexible work arrangement. Specify the length of the trial period, schedule check-ins during the trial period for you and your boss to discuss how it's going, and set benchmarks for how you will measure success. Reinforce your willingness to be accommodating in your schedule or flexible work plan, such as by switching your hours to attend important meetings when they come up.

During the trial period, keep track of any increases in performance and be prepared to report back at the end of the trial period. Along with the positive outcomes, be ready to address any setbacks while providing ways you can improve them or make the issue a non-issue.

5. Revisit at a later date.

If your initial request is denied, you could revisit the topic at a later date. Even if you're unhappy with their decision, make a point of thanking your manager for taking the time to talk to you about your desire for flexibility. You might find a new client, new boss or a new flexible work arrangement appears that will help to solidify your argument and their willingness to participate.

If all else fails and you aren't ready to wait it out, it might be a good time to start searching for a more flexible job.

The pandemic has forced companies to see the struggles that face working parents, and caregivers of all kinds. One tried-and-true solution to the work-life crunch is for employers to be more flexible about when, where, and how work gets done. If flex work is a solution that you think could work for you and your family, there's never been a better time to ask.

Stylish touches for your work-from-home space

Home desk organizer

Create a designated spot for those items that are always floating around your desktop. This simple organizer has a base tray for housing odds and ends, and an arm with compartments for smaller or hanging items.

$30

Modern pen stand

Warm and minimal, this sleek pen stand makes a great statement on any desk. The wooden crossbar helps keep pens upright.

$22

Screen time hydrating facial mist

If all that blue light has your skin feeling dry and stressed, this hydrating mist is the pick-me-up you've been looking for. With sunflower and marigold extract it nourishes and moisturizes to bring the glow without the grease.

$29

Woven desk tray

Like an inbox, but way more elegant, this woven tray captures stray papers on your desktop while making an elevated style statement.

$35

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

Stylish storage cabinet

Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

White board calendar + bulletin board

With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

Bamboo storage drawers

The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

Laminated world map

I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

Letterboard

From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

Expandable tablet stand

Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

Neutral pocket chart

Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

Totable fabric bins

My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

Work + Money

100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

From Adelia to Ziggy.

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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