Want a more flexible work schedule? Here’s how to ask

Dare to dream. And get prepared to ask.

Want a more flexible work schedule? Here’s how to ask

Motherly’s working motherhood guru Lori Mihalich-Levin is a lawyer, a mom of two and the creator of Mindful Return, an online program to help working women transition back to work from maternity leave.


Lori hears from a lot of women about their worries and concerns as they return to work after baby is born. And one of those issues is how to ask for more flexibility to spend time with the baby.

Here’s what Lori says.


One mama asks:

Before I had my baby, I worked an 8 am to 8 pm schedule most days. I was online and available by email pretty much around the clock, and I usually worked from the office.

That sort of schedule just doesn’t seem feasible—or desirable—for me now, as I’d like to see my baby every night before he falls asleep for the night (at some ridiculously early hour!).

I’m terrified to talk to my boss about changing my hours, though, as I am truly committed to my job and don’t want to be perceived otherwise.

Lori answers:

This is a position so many women find themselves in, mama.

First, for a minute, toss aside all the assumptions you’ve made about what you are “permitted” to ask for, and how people will respond.

Because you really don’t know what the answer will be until you try.

Next, dare to dream.

Sit with a pen and paper and brainstorm all the things you could ask for.

Do your homework while you dream by talking to other working parents at your workplace and elsewhere to see what their arrangements are like.

Then decide what to ask for and commit to making the ask.

Find a quiet time for a conversation with your supervisor, and focus on your shared commitments at work.

Be calm. Be peaceful. Be flexible.

You may get a yes right away, or you may not.

Consider this conversation the beginning of an ongoing dialogue with your supervisor about your life-with-family work schedule—not an all-or-nothing, once-and-done talk.

In this vein, consider asking for flexibility on a trial basis, to be re-evaluated after a few months.

Your supervisor might be willing to commit to something temporary as a trial run.

For inspiration, read this story of a real-life-mama who went through this process and got the flexibility she was looking for.

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