To ask how you started working again if you had kids and DP earns much more than you

(34 Posts)
girlwhowearsglasses Wed 26-Mar-14 15:44:53

Sorry long:
So I have 3 DCs - 7, 5, 5. Having twins means expensive childcare - so I haven't worked greatly since. I manage all paperwork for all DPs freelance work and workspace, and I do a bit of freelance myself, and am involved in some v rewarding voluntary stuff (boy does that expand to fit the time if you let it).

Kids all at school and I'm feeling undervalued, lost in the world, and finding it difficult to focus and motivate myself. I don't want to go PAYE as I like calling the shots, kids are in a normal school day, and I want to be quite flexible initially. I have a few different strings to my bow and I could pursue one and get ok paid work - but for myself and on my own, which has its advantages, but I also find quite lonely ( I can be quite an insular person - although many people in RL think I'm quite gregarious).

Anyhows an opportunity has come up to work freelance within a large group doing something interesting to me: although the pay is not what I would normally charge as a daily rate. I think this is a fair exchange actually as they will provide me with some training and experience I don't currently have and I'll make new connections.

Thing is, I can't ever hope to earn what DP does, no way. I don't know how this is going to work with us as regards balancing our family life. Me and my work is always going to be second fiddle on priority and time.... BTW DPs work is a vocation and he's very successful - so what he/we do and are interested in in our leisure time and friendships is an integral part of our life (I'll out myself if I explain more). I also feel my work is never going to be as 'interesting' as his. I used to work in same field but changed careers pre-DCs as it's very stressful and project led (he loves that).

How have you dealt with this?

wobblyweebles Wed 26-Mar-14 15:58:28

Thing is, I can't ever hope to earn what DP does, no way. I don't know how this is going to work with us as regards balancing our family life. Me and my work is always going to be second fiddle on priority and time

Neither of us ever took the view that my work or what I did was second fiddle.

I found a job, we arranged childcare, talked about how we would split the home responsibilities, then I went back to work.

Pigletin Wed 26-Mar-14 16:02:30

To be honest, not sure what your issue is - is your DP going to think that your job is second fiddle and you are not happy with that? Or is it that you are not sure how you will balance kids/housework/family/life and job?

It seems like you are comparing/competing with your DP's work. There is no need to do that. If you want to go back to work and that works for your family, just do it. There is no need to compare who is more successful and who makes the most money.

NCISaddict Wed 26-Mar-14 16:05:28

I was never going to earn what DH does and did feel a little bit less 'worthy' for a couple of years. Nothing to do with how DH saw my work more how I felt about myself. I did do most of the picking up when DC's were ill as DH has at least an hours commute by train and I worked locally.

Now the tables have turned and although I still earn a lot less DH sees my job as a much more worthwhile one as it's a vocational one. I don't see it like that as I've worked in his sector too and know how necessary it is but it doesn't help when the general public often see his job as not worthwhile.

fedupandfifty Wed 26-Mar-14 16:10:42

Frankly, I haven't, and dd is now 12. I feel I have a lot to offer, but I haven't got recent experience in my career field. I'm older too, and feel I'm on the scrap-heap. I took the option of working casually to fit around dd, not realising how hard it would be to get back to where I was. I haven't even got a proper reference.

If I were you, and there are opportunities, I would take them like a shot, even if the pay is not as good as you would expect. You can at least build on your experience.

Unfortunately this seems to be what happens to a woman's career when kids come along. Unless you have a lot of support, or are able to pay for a lot of support, work-related stuff has to go on the back burner.

Hence the slide down the greasy pole. And then the loss of identity, loss of confidence and isolation. And then the inevitable rejection which reinforces that negativity. I'm struggling to find minimum wage work now. Which is sobering, because I've realised that minimum wage work is all that many people can aspire to.

So perhaps second fiddle' s not so bad after all?

Dahlen Wed 26-Mar-14 16:16:12

If job 'worthiness' was based on earnings, footballers would be considered more useful to society than doctors and Z-list celebrities more important than teachers. Stop that line of thinking now! <stern look> wink

You have children with your DH. They are your joint responsibility. As a couple you need to make decisions together and make the finances work, but they should work for everyone in the family unit - that means you as well as the DC and your DH.

If you want to go back to work for whatever reason (and money is just one of them - factors such as self-esteem, confidence, keeping up a skill-set, etc are just as valid), then that desire should be reasonably accommodated as long as it doesn't impact negatively on anyone else in an unfair way. Asking your DH to take his turn collecting the DC from school/take days off if DC are sick is not unfair if you accept that you have just as much right to work as he does and his job is not more important than yours.

Good luck. I'm a single parent of twins with no family, and I've managed to hold down a job, so it's doable. smile

DidoTheDodo Wed 26-Mar-14 16:18:46

I did a bit of volunteering for a charity and ended up with a paid part time post which fitted into school hours. Holidays were covered with a mix of annual leave (mine and DH) and swapping children with friends. I went full time again when my youngest was 12 years old and since then have built a career in charity world. I now head up a department for a national charity.

I got divorced.

Beastofburden Wed 26-Mar-14 16:23:35

Sort of. OH is an academic. His job definitely dictates where we live, and is a vocation. I went back PT when mine were 6,4 and 2 and FT when they were 11,9, and 7. I don't think I earned anything significant after childcare for easily five years, perhaps longer. And I made it worse by changing careers and location so I could work locally and take primary responsibility for childcare when I was PT.

It's all about the long game, IME. Even those years when you earn poorly are years in a pension scheme. Once you are 15 years in, as I am, you are earning good money again.

I didn't find, though, that I had to fight my corner too much. Because he has a vocation himself, OH knows there is more to work than what you earn. In his field, he could earn way more outside academia, but he doesn't want to. You may find the same thing applies in your situation.

Viviennemary Wed 26-Mar-14 16:25:04

I've not been in your position. Though I have known people whose husbands earned a good salary and whatever they earned they just kept for themselves for spending on clothes and so on. It didn't seem to affect their self esteem.

But I think it would be hard for a parent who had a job which required long hours and periods away from home to do an equal share of childcare. There isn't really a hard and fast rule.

Scrounger Wed 26-Mar-14 16:25:10

I have a 7 yo DS and 3 yo twins, so I didn't go back to work after having the twins and took a break. I have now found a PT role that uses my experience pre children but fits in incredibly well around the children and school. I was really lucky to get it, it provides enough mental stimulation without the stress from previous roles and is getting me back into the work place. It fits at the moment and financially it works well as I don't have to have lots of childcare.

It is however a couple of levels below where I was working and DH earns at least 10X more than I. If the children are ill I usually rearrange work, although DH does if needed. I can make the time up as I work part time. It isn't a male / female thing it is just that DH works in an area that pays more than my area and we rely on his salary more than mine. We don't have any problems balancing things, when we are both at home we share the work equally and work together. It sounds a bit of cliché but we do work as a team.

Take the opportunity, you never know where it might lead and sort it out as you go.

girlwhowearsglasses Wed 26-Mar-14 16:27:07

Thanks, Yes pigletin its the housework/kids/general running of life things as you mention.

We are in a situation where I do everything because I'm not 'going to an important meeting in half an hour' and so on. If I'm honest I'm being U and bitter about that at the moment because the DSs are really hard work and I feel he gets up and does his thing to go to his 'important' job and erm, get to eat breakfast/have a shower etc, while I have to negotiate children and don't get to eat breakfast etc etc.

This is all fine now, and I'm U, BUT what is going to happen when I have a meeting I simply must get to at 8.30 am? Guess who will have to sort out the washing, unload dishwasher, find uniform, force child to put shoes on, persuade to eat breakfast, coax downstairs when hiding at schooltime and so on ad infinitum (we are waiting - and referral has been accepted - for an assessment for ADHD for DS1 so its keeping a lid on him all the time)? Yes, it won't be him, because he's 'important'. Sorry rant over now. You can tell me I am a wimp and a wuss and to get a grip. DP is spectacularly disorganised and messy BTW and my acting skills are at the edge when it comes to 'persuading' him not to leave coats/bags/shoes/dirty plates etc everywhere in a bright and sunny manner without getting annoyed all the time.

Pigletin Wed 26-Mar-14 16:32:27

OP I don't think you are wimp. I do think that you need to have a discussion with your DP to determine how you will split the kids responsibilities and housework when you go back to work. Do NOT ever say that your job will be less important because you make less money. You need to determine how you will divide house chores and set ground rules before you start working. You are not his housekeeper after all. And the sooner he realizes that, the better it will be for everyone. But you need to communicate that to him.

Finola1step Wed 26-Mar-14 16:39:26

I think you might need to get annoyed. A lot. There are two parents in this family. Yes, your DH has an important job. Lots of parents do. It's probably that job that pays the mortgage, the bills, puts food on the table. That does not mean that your dh's choice of work should dictate so much if your family life.

You both need to re examine your current balance. You are clearly not happy with the status quo. I assume all 3 children are at school?

I think you should seriously consider the role offered. It doesn't really matter if the pay isn't quite what you would normally charge. It sounds interesting to you and I think the chance to follow something you find interesting doesn't come around too often. It doesn't really matter if you are earning less than your DH. In the majority of relationships, one person earns less. Very few couples take home the same pay!

Talk it through with him.

ANiceSitDownAndACuppa Wed 26-Mar-14 16:46:16

I feel like this sometimes - I work pt in the same field as I did before dc (3 and 1.5) came along, and I'm lucky to have a flexible employer...

But I've come to realise you just can't have it all. Dc would rather be at home with me than at nursery for 2 days a week, so even though it's completely lovely there I feel guilty sending them. DH works away half the week so I either have to cram work into short hours and catch up at home or rely on my parents to do drop offs/pick ups. Again - I'm lucky to have them nearby.

We juggle it week by week but it's hard. I often notice that I'm the one making packed lunches and putting the washing on even if I'm dashing off to work and dh has a day at home - I should be stricter about that really, but I think when you're used to being the one who thinks about all that it's hard to stop.

Thing is, I still prefer to have a job and would never give it up. I took a year off with both babies and loved it, but my career is important to me too. I'm constantly spreading myself thin but for me that's the best option at the moment.

girlwhowearsglasses Wed 26-Mar-14 16:56:01

I will be doing it, its freelance and I can take individual projects on a case by case basis.

When I get annoyed (a lot recently) I am' being nasty' 'not helping' him, and generally being annoying because I am 'grumpy'. I don't know what to do about this as its a bit of a self-fulfilling thing isn't it?

I am feeling negative in general because it is unrelenting with the child who is most hard work. Apparently I 'don't like' him (DS1) because he is so hard work (Of course I love him to bits, he's unique and amazing, but he never, ever stops, and often can't be left on his own in a room with the other DSs). I wouldn't leave all three with one carer for any length of time as they are so difficult to handle - I can't take them on a bus together unless its a dire emergency for instance. This is one of the reasons I haven't seized the nettle before now and got more work.

I'm a worrier and DP is not - so he doesn't understand all the angst ('is it my fault, what have I done to make him like this, etc etc')

WilsonFrickett Wed 26-Mar-14 16:57:16

Any person who is taking a wage from an employer is vital to that employer. In that sense, you are just as important as your DH - they don't hand out salaries for wee wifeys to earn a little cash on the side, they pay the money they can afford for someone to come in and do a role that needs doing. If the need wasn't there, why pay a salary for the role?

You need to have this conversation with him. If you both need to be out at 830 on the dot then you have to work out a way of splitting the jobs so this happens, or you have to buy help in. It doesn't all land on your plate just because you used to be a SAHM. Things have changed.

wishingchair Wed 26-Mar-14 17:06:08

Personally, it sounds like a great opportunity and you should go for it. And on the household stuff you'll muddle through like we all do. If he really can't do any of it, you may need to find a nanny/child minder/use breakfast clubs etc. You say you can't leave them all with a carer, but maybe you've not found the right carer? They're all at school I assume and the teachers cope? (I'm assuming here that your DCs don't have any additional needs)

As you are feeling, working is more than just the money it brings in, it is about self-worth.

ShoeWhore Wed 26-Mar-14 17:09:03

How did you split domestic chores before you had children OP? Is your dh supportive of you taking on this new role? Sounds like you two need to sit down and work this all through?

It sounds like you could really do with a bit more support from your dh right now?

wobblyweebles Wed 26-Mar-14 18:00:24

So it looks like it would be really good for your DP if you went back to work.

When I went back, DP had to take on all the things you describe - "sort out the washing, unload dishwasher, find uniform, force child to put shoes on, persuade to eat breakfast, coax downstairs when hiding at schooltime and so on ad infinitum".

He also had to do things like sometimes take the children to the doctor or the dentist, leave work early to go to parent's evenings, etc.

It was actually really good for him. He works away a lot (at one point last year he was out of state about 50% of the time) so being responsible on the days when he was home was a good way for him to reconnect with the children.

It also helped him understand what I had been doing to enable him to work.

We compare diaries at the start of each week (often even before that) and if someone absolutely has to be out of the house early one day the following week then the other knows they will have to cover it.

We make sure we're not travelling at the same time.

I pay for our pension and I also get much better health insurance for me and the children than he would, so any time he might start wondering if it's really worth me working I point out the things we would lose if I didn't.

Scrounger Wed 26-Mar-14 18:22:46

Wobblyweebles has it. My DH understands and appreciates what I do, likewise I do the same for him. We have an equal partnership and we both get them out of the door in the morning, to bed in the evening and chores around the house. Getting out in the morning is always a stress point so we have to be organised, bags, clothes etc ready the night before and one of us sorts the children whilst the other gets ready and then we swap over. If one of us needs to be away earlier, we let the other know in advance and not just drop it on them. I suggest that you talk to him about his, not sure how you get it through to him though.

JsOtherHalf Wed 26-Mar-14 18:38:11

I know this isn't what you asked about, but it strikes me that as you refer to him as your DP then you might not be married?

Given that he would owe you nothing if you split up, then I would say to definitely have some form of paid employment on the go; if only to ramp up if you didn't have his wages to rely on.

DH takes sole responsibility for DS one morning a week, i lie in bed and get the pair of them to come in to say goodbye. I do NOT get involved in any minor altercations, if DH needs to be out of the house for a set time then it is up to him to manage it.
He negotiated his contract so he can pick up DS from after school club on the 3 days I work.

JsOtherHalf Wed 26-Mar-14 18:40:34

Also, would the DC with difficulties qualify for DLA?

https://www.cerebra.org.uk/English/getinformation/finance/Pages/default.aspx

HolidayCriminal Wed 26-Mar-14 18:41:58

I was SAHM for 8 yrs.

DH's company was on the decline; he became a SAHP for 6 months, just as I was applying for jobs anyway and got one. Slowly he's built up free-lance work he can do at home with kids climbing around his ears or when they're at school or on my days off.

DH still earns twice as much as me but it feels more equal now with both of us sharing more duties. I have to admit he has risen super well, much better than I ever expected, to household+kid management duties (although is a bit of a homebody at heart, so maybe not so surprising).

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 26-Mar-14 18:52:19

I earn a lot less than DH and I work 22 hours a week, which I spread over five days so that I can work school hours.

I have found that the mere act of me being out of the house and back in an office has meant that my work is taken more seriously by all concerned. We have a weekly diary session when we look at what is coming up during the week, including any days when we need to juggle childcare/transport etc.

I have entirely lost that sense of being undervalued ... because my colleagues really value what I do. I also feel like I have more to talk about at home, having been out doing something different during the day.

In general, I do still cover most of the child-related stuff, because I have the flexibility to do so. But if I have a meeting in my diary and DH doesn't, he recognises that it may be him that needs to work at home if a child is sick (for example). It is definitely a question of joint responsibility, and weighing up who genuinely has the most flexibility to handle a situation, depending what's going on at work. The relative amounts we earn don't really come into it.

HoneyDragon Wed 26-Mar-14 18:55:25

I have a zero hours contract. I don't let them down, but if the dcs are sick and I can't come in its not the end of the world.

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