Any working parent will tell you that although raising children is rewarding, there's a constant struggle for work/life balance. Whether they're working overtime to help make ends meet or rushing after work to get the kids to soccer practice, the reality is that it's difficult to be an active parent and productive worker. (Difficult, not impossible.)
Today's economy doesn't help, as parents are feeling added pressure to spend more time on work to provide for the family. Thirty percent of working moms whose companies have had layoffs in the past year are working longer hours, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.com.* Fourteen percent have taken on a second job in the last year, 43 percent work more than 40 hours per week and 16 percent said they bring work home at least two days a week.
"Nearly one-third [of mothers] say that despite it being one of the toughest economies in the nation's history, they would consider taking a pay cut to spend more time with their kids," said Mary Delaney, president of Personified -- CareerBuilder's talent management and recruitment outsourcing division -- and mother of three. "If you're struggling with work/life balance, talk to your manager. Working moms who communicate their need for flexible time, job sharing or something in between will find that most companies are receptive to these kinds of policies."
Many working parents have already communicated that desire: 55 percent of working moms said they take advantage of flexible work arrangements at their organizations. The majority of these women say their new schedules haven't hurt their career progress.
If your company doesn't offer a flexible or alternative schedule to help you work around your family commitments, maybe it's time to think about working in a family-friendly career. Here are five to consider:
Not only have your parenting experiences helped prepare you for life in the classroom, you couldn't ask for a better schedule that complies with your family's needs. Most teachers are able to be at home in the evenings; plus, you can enjoy the same summer and winter vacations and no-school days as your kids. And depending on the age you teach, you may be able to work in the same institution as your little ones.
Education: Bachelor's degree and state teaching license
Average annual salary: $44,137
2. Registered nurse
RNs have extremely flexible schedules: Most work three to four 12-hour shifts per week, plus a certain number of weekends and holidays per year. Evening and weekend shifts allow you to share at-home duties with your spouse.
Education: A four-year university program, a two-year associate degree program or a three-year diploma program, and state RN licensing
Average annual salary: $62,450
Bookkeepers are often able to work from home, either from a company-provided computer or if you work privately with traders or accountancy firms. Working from home is ideal if you have young children to look after.
Education: High school diploma, accounting course work and relevant work experience
Average annual salary: $32,510
4. Personal trainer
One huge perk of being a personal trainer is the flexible hours. Most trainers work part time, scheduling clients' appointments around their own schedules. Many trainers work nights and weekends and can work in the gym or out of a client's home.
Average annual salary: $29,210
5. Family child-care provider
Most family child-care workers are self-employed and work out of their own homes. They have flexible hours and daily routines, watching children during the day and evenings while other parents are at work or away. While they may work long or unusual hours to fit parents' work schedules, these workers are also able to care for their own children in a familiar setting.
Education: Each state has its own licensing requirements; state requirements are generally higher for workers at child-care centers than for family child-care providers.
Average annual salary: $18,970
*Survey conducted from Feb. 20 to March 11, 2009, among 496 women, employed full time, with children under 18.
** Education and salary information according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.