To think, actually, WOH gets harder as they get older.(451 Posts)
I've worked (at least p-t) all my life. It was a choice for me, I wanted to get out to work, keep my career etc, although I did very much step back for a while, I always kept my hand in IYSWIM.
When DC were tiny, there was always some feeling of guilt at not always being there, but the day to day practicalities were easy. You got them up and dressed, bundled them in the car, handed them over to GP, childminder or nursery and then it was someone else's job to do everything for them until it was practically bedtime. They were cared for, fed and entertained without me ever really having to do anything. (When I was at work). I'd collect on my way home, take them home and put them to bed.
Now they're 9 & 11, there's homework to supervise, clubs to organise, taxi services to provide, sports and school events to watch (or to have to explain you can't) friendship issues or other worries to listen to and if I'm not around after school, they can't have friends back and they can't go to other's houses.
With sports- I think you have to decide if you as a family want to make the sacrifice of weekends and evening practice. If your child is great at it loves it, gets a lot out of being on a team- make the sacrifice. But I do see people dragging their sons out to football who don't seem that into it (or ballet or whatever) and I do wonder why? It's not compulsory to go to sports/music/dance/languages/arts classes all week- nice to do one or two things, but it has to fit in with the whole family's needs.
I have dropped one Sat morning activity because the stress and hassle required to go to it was inverse to the children's pleasure in it. The world doesn't cave in if you stop piano lessons (unless that's their one particular love in life).
It's definitely busier and emotionally demanding when they get older - for the simple reason that life is busier and more demanding for them.
I have a 4 and 14 YO. I think the Primary years are hardest logistically if you are working, especially in the first couple of years.
Right now, things are pretty easy. We have one in nursery/pre-school and the other in year 9.
I'm dreading DS2 starting school in Sept. There is an after-school club but (obviously) it's just not the same as nursery care or a parent.
DS2 benefits from having a parent at home when he gets home at 4.15, just for guidance etc, but his activities and school events are mainly later or involve lift-sharing and (importantly) seem to be much better organised in advance so you can have dates in your diary. Many Primary events seem to be of the form "we need some parent helpers for xyz tomorrow" or "please come along to the end of term church service at 1pm and feel free to take your child home afterwards". Dreadful for working parents.
I could have written your post OP. At the moment DH and I split it (I do Mon, Tue he does weds, thursday - nanny/house keeper comes on Friday) I would dearly love to return to work ft (for all sorts of personal and professional reasons) .However I have literally no idea how we could possibly manage, unless the dcs curtailed their activities and social life. They now give me an unmitigatedly hard time about going to the afterschool club (happens about twice a month).
Though my parents both worked full-time (and sometimes irregular hours) when I was small, it always felt like they were around. But when I was a teenager, I distinctly remember feeling abandoned, as they didn't show much of an interest in my interests (or they were far too busy). They took their foot off the gas pedal, and probably came to 1 in three school plays, and never any sporting matches; when I was bullied at that age, I did not turn to them, as I felt I was little more than a lodger. As a result, I look back on the 14+ years with quite a bit of sadness, and a resolve to do things very differently.
You are NBU in the slightest.
SCARED PARENTS OF PRE-SCHOOLERS READ THIS
OP is right, logistically it is harder when they are at school and have cubs/rainsbows/football/swimming/friends/assemblies to arrange.
BUT - you get to sleep more. This makes a huuuge difference. And you are more practised at being a parent. So it will all be ok.
Completely, completely agree.
I waited until mine were at school to get a degree and now my career is going great guns.
I need to be around more. DD has friendship issues. They need homework help. DD2 has numerous music lessons after school that I need to ferry her to.
Teacher meetings, after school activities and lots and lots of talking... it's so much harder than when they were small.
True glad true! My lack of sleep is truly self inflicted. My evenings are busy and the time when everyone is in bed is just so delicious.
Swings and roundabouts.
YANBU. I was presented with a note from school this morning inviting me to a class event next tuesday at 11:30am. Which is apparently 'really important to attend' WTF? So now I either piss my boss off by leaving at 11am and coming back at 1pm in the middle of a really busy week with very little notice, or a upset my child as all of the other parents will be there. Not an option for DP to do it as he works over an hour away.
The whole system is build around being able to drop everything at a moment's notice, which just isn't realistic.
Our PTA meets at 230pm on a day when I work, sorry no can do !
I agree enjoyingscience
Governments penalize parents the world over if they want to stay at home, but then schools have teacher training days mid-term, early closures and unmissable midday meetings.
enjoy I can't understand why schools do this. Most school teachers are working parents themselves so they must know how it feels to be torn.
And the lack of notice would drive me mad. I am able to have a certain amount of flexibility at work, but not at the drop of a hat.
It depends how flexible your jobs are. Is your dh hands on? We both work full time but between us volunteer at the school, dd goes to rainbows, individual swimming lessons, all discos, plays etc. As parents we would never miss any of these things and between us we just arrange it.
Dh even volunteers and runs the cake sales. We work 80 hours between us but are a lot more present up the school than most.
What would the solution be? After school clubs that are AT the school would be best, wouldn't they?
Most of my friends who work full time, or almost FT work it out through a network of friends (one set up between 3 sets of parents, 2 kids each, they all have seven seaters and take them all home in turn).
Private schools offer flexible pick up times ( after school club AT the school), could this be introduces in primaries And secondaries? The building is there anyway, you just need a professional team to move in after the teachers leave.
I'm finding it the other way round - DD is far more self reliant now and just does stuff without needing my assistance. When she does need me it is more complex emotional stuff but this doesn't require me to be available at set times. I don't supervise her homework and if she is struggling she talks to the teacher - I take the view that is what teachers are for and the teahcer should know DD's weak points, not be presented with a potted verison of what I know about things.
The thing that has increased is the number of out of school activities - but that is a conscious choice, I think kids should do exercise and stuff outside the home so DD does sports and drama. It is annoying sometimes but I'm coping. I tell DD in advance if something can't happe, she doe snto expect me to be instantlyavailable at all tiems for all things, I just can't be - either DH does it where possible or I nowhave a circle of friendly parents who give lifts to matches and games he I can't.
I don't see it as harder - but there is a shift in emphasis. I als make sure DD understands the entire household does not revole around her, there are others who have tings to do as well. I also don't ocnsider it my duty to"do everything" for her. In a few short years she will be an adult so I reckon she shoud start practising for that asap.
Agree with the school holiday issue though - DD has grown out of summer camps - what IS the alternative?! Thining back though, I spent school holidays at home on my own...hmmm
All schools have after school clubs these days dont they? There are none in our area that dont have them. On top of that they are private ones starting from 7.30. here.
Can I challenge the free-time/sleeping more notion... 2 working parents here. One with secondary school homework every night, the other no longer able to amuse himself. The homework will suddenly be remembered at 7.00pm as I walk in the door and will require either DH or myself to go to the shops to buy cookery ingredients (with prior knowledge, this would be something that we could have picked up en route home). DS12 will suddenly need support in alegbra etc which will require putting reading glasses on and racking memory (more than 30 years ago...). They will amuse themselves (fingers crossed) for about an hour whilst we eat - but this will be combative eg. nerf gun warfare. They will be sent to get ready for bed at 9.00pm but will require an hour of chasing around upstairs before they have cleaned their teeth, got into bed. Younger DS will stall and NEVER even read a single page from his book. Elder DS will complain about how tired he is. By which time it's my bedtime. No point looking in the tv listings for any programmes which start before 9.00pm and even then they are watched +1 or on demand later. Running an occasional bath for either DC removes a huge dent of what little free time there is. DH will, after you have tucked yourself in bed, play guitar downstairs or watch a crap movie. He will fall asleep on the sofa til 2.00am then come to bed and snore loudly before his alarm goes at 5.30am. Press REPEAT!
It might get harder for a bit but then it definitely gets much easier.
Secondary school kids catch the bus to school and home again.
If you bribe them they will babysit for you and they will spend the money on clothes that you would otherwise have had to buy them anyway (win win)
They can also be trained to lay the table and get dinner started, walk the dog, stick the laundry on etc.
I am still working on getting them to tidy their bedrooms though......
I am expecting things to get harder. We are in the US the schools here finish so early. They don't do enough sports, art or music so either we go private or stay with the public system and supplement.
It is going to be very difficult to fit everything in. Neither of us work 40hrs a week and leaving early is impossible for me for 4 months of the year.
I agree OP and count myself very lucky that I've been able to be a WAHM just before DD started Reception. My working hours are flexible so I can host playdates, take her to activities, play with her, help her with her school work, be with her. I had no guilt when I worked out of the house and had to put her with a CM all day long as she was happy, so I'd have no guilt (I'm guessing) having after school care (CM, club, nanny, au pair) arranged for her now. But yes, the practicalites are very easy now I work from home.
Babel I don't wish to sound harsh and I realise your post was somewhat tongue in cheek, but it sounds like you and your DH need to take control of your household. It sounds like the kids are running the show.
A child old enough to go to bed at 9pm should not need chasing around for an hour before they brush their teeth! Likewise running a bath....for a child at secondary school?
Are you both out of the house from before school until 7pm? What are the children doing until you get home?
Mumsyblouse I totally agree about not dragging them off to extra curric stuff just for the sake of it, and they dont all do these activities, just 2 or 4 each a week, but three of them are very sporty, the older ones, so this does mean that i am tied up a lot with taking them to and fro.
I stopped taking dd2 to Ballet when i realised she was not that committed to it, and i wasnt prepared to waste a saturday morning and petrol. So i do only do those things that they love or have an ability for as i am actually quite lazy and a bit selfish and am not prepared to run myself ragged on on unecessary trips to activities.
And also agree with dontmindifido, certainly if i worked ft or even pt, they just wouldnt have the opportunities to do all these things.
YANBU. Working whilst bringing up children is undeniably hard, there just aren't enough hours in the day. I've found it is definitely harder with school aged children simply because they have their own lives rather than just being an extension of yours. DH & I work FT, he is a lorry driver so cannot guarantee to be home at a particular time so I have to compromise and work most of my hours over the weekends simply because without family support, it is impossible to work the logistics of childcare.
peteypiranha Not all schools have after school clubs, no. We have a breakfast club on Tuesdays and only specialist clubs on Mondays and Thursdays - football, which DS absolutely hates and Morris dancing. I hate living here and it's one of the main reasons why I want to move away!
We are both working, and it is difficult at the moment because DH was between jobs for a bit, ie at home, and the boys got used to this. He has just started a job 2 hours away, so he stays at his sister's during the week. So i get to do all the emotional / practical stuff during the week.
I can't complain too much as we have an AP who is brilliant and who the boys really like. He takes them to clubs - swimming, cubs, piano, tennis etc during the evenings. I spent last night turning a t shirt into viking chain mail and checking they had read their books (and watching Game of Thrones), and then this am, DS2 told me he had homework. Aaargh. We get up early and so there was time to do this (and I work from home on a Friday too).
Without the AP it would be a nightmare. Impossible actually. We are in London and are fortunate that all the activities are walkable / cyclable.
I think you are spot on OP.
God yes, I completely agree. When mine were both in nursery I looked forward to the school years, envisaging much more financial freedom, independence etc. Is that how it feels? No.
At nursery, they just used to have a reheated portion of whatever I'd cooked the night before and I knew they had a hot, healthy meal for no added expense. Now it's either school dinners which, while not outrageously expensive, still cost over £80 a month. I could do packed lunches but then if I wanted them to have a hot meal, I would have to start cooking dinner as soon as we got home and the logistics of that don't really work for us.
We have the clubs and after school club as they collect afterwards so it's double the expense there and the lack of consideration for working parents is a massive bugbear for me. I recently had less than 2 days notice for a big school event. The child could only take part if the parents were available to attend workshops. I was on a training course, DH in another town and we had no opportunity to arrange anything. I had to have a very disappointed child and a huge amount of guilt over an event the school had known was coming since November.
When they were little you collected them from nursery, fed them, played with them, loved them, cuddled them. Now it's all arranging sleepovers, trips, Brownies and cubs, arguing, friend angst, vetoing of video games and TV and standing over them with a big stick because they don't want to do their homework.
I do think they are more funny, interesting and lovely than ever now though
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