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AIBU...to still be seriously considering going back to work FT in an actual office and getting a nanny?

(93 Posts)
IHideVegInRice Sun 05-May-13 22:47:02

For 3ish days a week (more if I can) I try to work from home, so that I can spend time with my small children and DMiL who is wonderful with them. Great. Except, it doesn't work.

I was on a conference call last week discussing a horribly tricky technical issue which needed my full attention, and I had DMiL popping in every few minutes throughout the 2 hour callto ask if I wanted tea, biscuits, coffee, milk, sugar, to look at DS' drawing, for DD to show me her new toy which I bought so have obviously seen before, if I wanted egg or tuna sandwiches, if it was ok for the kids to touch my 6foot + harp - NO! She doesn't seem to have grasped that if my office door is closed I really need some peace, even though I've explained a million times and I normally have it open and don't mind a bit of chatting and helping her out with washing up etc etc.

She means well but it's an absolute nightmare and I'm working until 3am most nights to cover off the stuff I can't get done with her flapping during the day so I'm now really tired and really stressed and working all over the bank holiday weekend and generally feeling like having a rant. DH is working more than ever also so I feel responsible for being around in the week, but we have broadly the same job so it's tough.

I'm seriously thinking about getting a nanny and going back to working in the office as it would mean a clear distinction between work and home, spending time with my family or at work without this horrible blend of the two, but it's a commute and I'd be looking at 10 hours at least in the office. I'm not sure it is the best thing for DCs though: DMiL is absolutely fantastic with the twins and a good, wise role model for them. She's energetic, takes them to the park etc and we really enjoy our lunchtime strolls together which I think is real quality time during the week. DM would be horrified and I'd never hear the end of it and I'd probably cause a massive rift in my family for being some evil career woman and not caring about family etc etc etc and I suspect DMiL will be privately angry but more than anything very hurt which I really want to avoid.

I have no idea how to handle this situation but something needs to change here because my head is going to implode. I couldn't reasonably expect DMiL to have the children full time, and when I do make an appearance at the offce DH finishes to collect them and then works in the evening. He completely understands the situation, and knows why I'm stressed and the pressures I have at work but at the same time we have this massive issue with our mothers meaning we are effectively keeping them happy but having a shite time ourselves. A friend helpfully suggested we move house...!

IHideVegInRice Sun 05-May-13 22:54:20

that should read "DH finishes early"...

NoSquirrels Sun 05-May-13 22:56:21

Make the rules! You need to impose 'office hours' i.e. between 9 and 11 am door is shut and you are working undisturbed. 11-11.30 tea break, admiration of artwork, helping with washing tea cup or what shall we have for lunch discussion. 11.30-1pm door is shut. etc

Sign them all up for as many courses like Tumble Tots or whatever as is realistic, and then you can make sure they're out of the house.

If you think she'll take it as an implied criticism, tell a white lie and explain to your DMIL that work have been piling on the pressure and asking for more form you, that they have hinted you'll need to be in the office more if productivity doesn't increase. Make them the bad guys.

ivanapoo Sun 05-May-13 22:59:02

Put a lock on your office door and a sign saying "no knocking please" and use it during important calls/times.

Bereavednanny Sun 05-May-13 22:59:19

Is there nowhere you could relocate the office to? An out building? Garage? Loft? Somewhere it is more difficult to 'pop in' to.

I'm a nanny and I know that if my boss is working from home, we do not interrupt her, unless in an emergency. But bosses home offices are away from the children's areas.

One boss worked in a garden shed that they had insulated, electricity and water supplies bought in, so she could have tea/coffee, Internet, phone line, fridge and radio. Dad boss used to retreat there at weekends and had tv and sky put in!

Failing that, tell her, if she cannot let you work, you are going to have to work out of the home 12 hours a day, with the commute and it's likely you'd have to go to 5 days and employ full time childcare, not something you want but those are the options.

ivanapoo Sun 05-May-13 23:00:57

And you do sound a tad ungrateful in your post! Assuming your MIL is not being paid...

AcrylicPlexiglass Sun 05-May-13 23:03:35

Have you sat down with your mil over tea/wine and said that you are feeling this bad? It sounds like she just doesn't understand that you are at work and must not be disturbed unless it's an emergency.

Can you get a lock for your office door?

Kiwiinkits Sun 05-May-13 23:18:14

Consider this arrangement:
* you work in the office 3 or 4 days per week, with a nanny
* you work at home 1 day per week, with MIL at home
* on the four days you work, either you of DH go to work early in the morning, and the other does hand over to nanny. Both of you are home no later than 6.15pm to see kids, read to them, put them to bed.

Thats how it works in our professional working family, more or less. We love our nanny (LOVE her!) and she is adored by our kids.

Working from home is a nightmare; doesn't work for me. I'm an economist so need space and quiet.

Kiwiinkits Sun 05-May-13 23:19:27

Having a nanny is oodles more convenient than childcare. No one has to get kids out the door before 7.30am or pick them up before 5.30. THAT in itself has potential to drive you nuts, IMO.

BackforGood Sun 05-May-13 23:28:40

Agree with NoSquirrels - explain to MiL that work are saying that unless you are more productive, and in a space where you won't be interrupted on important calls, then you will no longer be able to work at home, and that's going to mean the 10 hours away from the house each day, and some other form of childcare. Pretend you are on a 'warning' or something, and that you will all have to stick firmly to the rules from now on.

... of course her response to that will depend a bit on how exhausting, or how much she loves looking after the dc.

ShellyBoobs Sun 05-May-13 23:33:05

I'd definitely go for a nanny and an office away from home.

It's pretty much what OH and I, although our DD is now in her teens and the nanny we've had all the way through her younger years provides some 'care' on an ad-hoc basis if we're both away on business or working long hours (often).

I work from home the odd day but I too find it hard to separate work and home life with all the interruptions that come from having people in the house when I'm working. It would drive me utterly insane having young DCs around while someone cares for them in a non-professional capacity.

This bit confuses me a little though, "I couldn't reasonably expect DMiL to have the children full time".

Pressumably she already has the DCs full time while you're working?

IHideVegInRice Mon 06-May-13 01:40:34

Thanks everyone - I don't mean to sound ungrateful I'm just exhausted with the whole thing and anxious not to upset anyone, but at the same time feeling that we've had this situation forced on us. While it's fab that DMiL is so keen to help out she doesn't understand why I'm working and makes me feel guilty if I'm not able to read a story/fingerpaint/look at the cookies etc at every whim. So I end up feeling terrible and that I'm doing the wrong thing and dropping everything I can anyway and then working all night to catch up with the non-urgent stuff that comes in dribs and drabs.
FWIW work really don't care about when I get stuff done as long as it is done, and I manage my own workload/time allocation/teams (with massive help from my secretary) and they sure as hell do not care if my child is sick/had a tantrum/wanted to show me a picture of a green blob named Alan. Most of my female colleagues have nannies or are single/childless and it's massively male dominated...but that's a whole other thread!

It's hard to explain, but I feel like I have a guest to entertain and two children to look after and a job to do, because although she is brilliant at getting them to play and have a great time the practical stuff falls to me apart from lunch/snacks. So by my 'having the children full time' comment I meant all day for 5 days per week with no help from me because I'd be out of the house, whereas I currently get stuck in with eg. the battle to put coats on or teeth time etc.

I'm thinking that we could potentially employ a nanny as well as having DMiL and play it along the lines of we thought it would allow you to focus on having quality time without any chores etc, while in reality the nanny would be running the show and giving us the help we actually need. I'm not sure if a nanny would agree to this, but I suppose being open about the situation at present and how we need it to change might help. HTH

wombatcheese Mon 06-May-13 02:41:29

It sounds as if MIL has v different expectations from what you need. If you generally have door open and appear happy to be interrupted she may have the impression that your work is not that important and you like seeing the kids in work time. I agree with above poster about clear 'do not interrupt' hours. Maybe consider a nanny for a couple of days/ half days if you feel childcare and organisation is too much for MIL. Seems a shame to not be able to work from home if possible.

maddening Mon 06-May-13 06:24:39

Can you hire a small office near your home so you can return at lunch time and be home v quickly and still have mil with the dc? Might be cheaper than a nanny + travel.

Mutley77 Mon 06-May-13 07:20:03

I would certainly go out to work if I were you - your work life balance is not working.

Any childcare would be less stressful than that! Your MIL could continue to have her time with the children (each of them a half day or day per week - she can pick them up and return them to home) but you can have someone else responsible for their care while you get your work done, leaving you free to enjoy your downtime once you get back from work.

Nehru Mon 06-May-13 07:21:22

Stop exploiting your family as cheap childcare.

Wuldric Mon 06-May-13 07:31:02

I don't know how you manage working from home. It's the noise issue more than anything else. Whenever I worked from home, every time I had a conference call, the children would chose that precise moment to erupt in wails. It was incredibly stressful, far more stressful than the commute. Your preferred solution of a nanny isn't really a solution because it sounds as though you are making the problem worse and not better (ie more people to interrupt you and more people with more time to interrupt you).

Could you have a garden office - somewhere separate from the house? Or rent one of those cheap office space units close to you?

Dozer Mon 06-May-13 07:41:45

Most people can't afford a nanny! If you can then it sounds like it'd be a good option.

I struggle with work/life balance too, but am struggling to be sympathetic here, mainly because I assume MiL is providing a lot of free childcare and the way you seem quite passive in your posts. if you both work, you (together) need to organise childcare that allows you both to do that. MIL clearly isn't on board with providing the care you need to work effectively, and possibly judgmental too: if it's not working, then you need to speak to her about changing things, or organise something else.

Paid childcare of some kind would give you more control, and there's no reason why the DC couldn't still spend lots of time with their family, although think time with MiL AND a nanny should be fairly limited, or it'll be hard to find a nanny!

As for worrying about what your parents think, and feeling "forced" into situations not of your choosing, you need to get over that! It's your DC and life.

CecilyP Mon 06-May-13 08:00:34

I don't think you sound ungrateful. It sounds like a situation that you have got yourselves into, that seemed like a good idea at the time, but really isn't working but you are worried about upsetting DMiL if you try to change it.

I agree that having an office space separate from the house, either a shed or a rented office space locally. I assume you don't all live together, so would it be possible to take DCs to your MiLs house so you can go back home and work. The ideal solution might be to hire a professional nanny while you work from home - someone really does understand that you do your job while she does the childcare. You are trying to keep everyone happy but having a nanny and your MiL at the same time will not work - the nanny will care for your DCs but you will now have a guest with very little to keep herself entertained.

You can't go on as you are. You say that work don't mind what you do as long as the work gets done, but the only way you are achieving this is by working all hours once your DCs are in bed. If you stopped doing that, the whole thing would fall apart.

NoSquirrels Mon 06-May-13 08:08:29

Just wondering how you got into this situation in the first place? I mean, returning to full time work without a formal childcare plan for 2 small children is . . . erm, unusual. Did DMIL offer to 'help' or has it evolved, somehow?

You really don't need to feel bad about imposing 'working hours'. If she is there to look after the kids while you work then that's what needs to happen. Instead of a nanny you could think about a 'mother's help' who could take over and be a companion, but truly, in your situation I would be doing as I advised above and telling her things have to change.

Your work doesn't need to be applying pressure to you, you just tell DMIL that.

You don't need to make it all or nothing, you know. DMIL could have them one day a week full-time, and a nanny for the other 2 or 3 days.

Whatever, you need to change it. Would your DH have a word if you feel unable to? Along the lines of 'very worried about IHideVeg, DM, because she's having to work late into the night. Do you think you could make sure she gets to be undisturbed for x hours a day.'

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 06-May-13 08:56:27

I think that's a good solution from Nosquirrels, it might work much better if your DH approached her as at the minute you are trying to be all things to all people.

Or getting the garage converted or hiring office space good too. You'd probably find that you only need office space for a couple of days a week as you will be amazed how much you can get through with no distractions and that also means the inevitable distractions you would face if you worked from your actual place of work.

Nehru I can't quite see where the OP is exploiting anyone. She actually wants to use paid childcare but wants to make sure that she doesn't upset her DMIL in the process, it's hardly exploitation if DMIL is happy to do it.

FarBetterNow Mon 06-May-13 09:05:00

You don't sound ungrateful at all, but I'm going to very unhelpfully say that it is very difficult to have it all.
As a grandmother I would really struggle to look after young twins on my own for a long day.
As others have said, how about renting a local office and having a Nanny and DMIL just doing one day and meeting up with you at lunchtime?

BackforGood Mon 06-May-13 11:15:10

Or, if you want the shorter day without the commute, then what about employing a CM or local Nursery for some of the week - 4 days maybe, or 'school hours' , or long mornings, and just having 1 day / a couple of hours each day / however it works out best, when DMiL is looking after them at home. She still feels very involved, but you get {say} 25 hours out of each working week completely on your own -which, IME is FAR more productive than being in the office - and you can fit the other 15 hours in more flexibly as you are doing now. You get to see your dc each day, MiL still involved, but your work is getting at least some of your working hours as quality, focused time.

Startail Mon 06-May-13 11:22:42

DF worked from home, but had a nanny who knew not to disturb her.

Can you put a shed in the garden or simply work in your bedroom and put up a stair gate labeled

Working, is coming through here really necessary.

DH's study is in the extension, I mentally say those words before annoying him.

Startail Mon 06-May-13 11:24:36

Petrol is such a large part of our budget for the days DH does go to the office, I would try to avoid doing it every day.

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