Feeling the Need for Workplace Flexibility

“Making the decision to have a childit’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body.” -Elizabeth Stone

During the pregnancy of my first child, my responsibilities at work changed and required occasional travel. I was craving flexibility in my work schedule. I spent my maternity leave juggling the new responsibilities of motherhood and searching for a more flexible job. At the same time, I put together a proposal for my employer that made a case for why I would be a more effective worker at home. Unfortunately, my proposal was rejected. I reluctantly came back to work. I felt nauseous leaving my new baby each morning.  I thought about the amount of hours I spent at work instead of with him. Anytime I had to travel, I felt even more miserable.

Getting Pushed to Make a Big Change

“To love what you do and feel that it matters—How could anything be more fun?” -Katharine Graham

One year later, my position was eliminated and, surprisingly, it brought me immense joy to pursue a new career. I had been too afraid to leave on my own accord, so it took a layoff to push me into a more rewarding job. I put aside my marketing and risk management degrees along with years of industry experience and decided to pursue a career in education. I received my certification in special education and was giddy! I would now be able to do something that I loved and I would also be able to make a difference in children’s lives. Helping others was a missing component in my previous endeavors.

I loved teaching, and my husband and I soon welcomed our second child. I could not wait until my kids were old enough to come to work with me and walk the halls of the same school where I taught. I finally had a job where I felt that I was doing work that was meaningful, full of purpose, and rewarding.

Finding the Courage to Try Something New

“When you focus on someone’s disability you’ll overlook their abilities, beauty and uniqueness.” -Yvonne Pierre

During the beginning of my teaching career, one of our children displayed challenging behaviors.  We sought insight from pediatricians, occupational therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, centers that claimed to balance the developing brain, and a long list of specialists. We utilized special diets, supplements, and almost every behavior modification technique available.

In elementary school, my child’s stress increased and so did the undesirable behaviors. We had tried multiple therapies along with medications, but I could no longer juggle helping my child and meeting the obligations of my job. My principal was extremely supportive and offered work flexibility options that would allow me to go to necessary therapies and doctor appointments, but I knew I could no longer stretch myself so thin.

Steering Through Twists and Turns with Flexible Work Options

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell

I took a leave of absence and later resigned.  My husband and I pulled our child out of school and began homeschooling him.  I joined an incredible local group of homeschooling moms that were extremely supportive.  I later enrolled my son in an online public charter school that allowed me to work with him one-on-one and provide targeted curriculum and therapies to meet his learning needs.

I immediately began looking for a telecommuting job.  I was thrilled to find that the landscape of flexible work arrangements had changed drastically since I first sought work flexibility. I wrote curriculum for an online school and taught Korean children English after midnight so that I could also give my child the education and support he needed. I finally had the flexibility in my job that met my family’s needs.

After staying up after midnight for over a year instructing students live via online camera, I looked for another opportunity with a flexible employer. I joined a site called FlexJobs and found an abundance of positions that fit my needs. I received an offer and I’m happy to report that I am now working not only for an incredible company, but one that promotes and values work flexibility.  Pure bliss!

The Need for Flexibility in All Parts of Life

“The key to sustained happiness, health, and longevity is flexibility.” -Ev Durán

Both of my children are doing well in school. While one attends an online school, another attends a traditional brick and mortar school. I don’t believe there is a one size fits all with children, because each child has unique needs. There are still days that are challenging, but letting go of rigid thinking has been beneficial. Not only is it important to have flexibility in your career, but also in all facets of your life. Flexibility is necessary in education, thinking, living, and in achieving balance.

Join me in supporting 1 Million for Work Flexibility, to help ensure more and more people across the country have access to the flexibility they need.

photo credit: thinkstockphotos.com