2 parents working in "lesser" jobs, or 1 high-powered WOHP and SAHP?

(123 Posts)
redskyatnight Wed 09-Apr-14 09:14:05

If you have the luxury of choice

For school age DC

Which is preferable
-Both parents working, in "lesser" jobs but close to home so both able to see more of DCs in morning/evenings, able to attend school events, jointly able to cover holidays and sickness, both parents maintain their position in the job ladder, security if one parent is made redundant/taken ill/leaves the family, however potentially more stressful in terms of juggling
OR
-One parent working in high powered job so potentially silly hours, long commute, often away from home, while the other parent is SAHP. So one parent is always available for the DCs, but the other may have limited time with them, the SAHP has effectively sacrificed their career for the other, may be less security for the family long term. But ... more relaxed lifestyle.

DH and I fall into the first bucket, DB and SIL into the second. I'm happy to take the "more juggling" which means that we both can jointly pursue our careers and both spend lots of time with the DC.

I can see that SIL (she's a SAHM) has a much more relaxed lifestyle and it's great for DB that she just handles anything child related, but think it's sad for him not to spend more time for his DC and not great for SIL in terms of one day she may want to go back to work and struggle to do so.

(ought to point out that we could have pursued the one parent in high powered job option, but have chosen not to - equally DB and SIL could have gone with both of them working)

To turn this into an AIBU ...

AIBU to think both parents working in "lesser" jobs is the better option?

ithaka Wed 09-Apr-14 09:20:03

Both parents working in lesser jobs is the better option for you and it is for me, but it may be different for other people - there are no easy rules about getting through life.

DH & I are fortunate that we can now both afford to work part time, so we really do have an easy life & the best of both worlds, especially now the children are older. The sacrifice is the amount of money we could generate if we one of us worked full time, but we have chosen time over money.

However, we have not always had that luxury and have tag teamed through our marriage, with one or other of us having to work full time/long hours on occasion. It does not suit us, so the single high earning adult would not work for either of us - neither of us enjoy working long hours to earn lots of money. But if someone wants to do that, it is not for me to say they are wrong.

Theres no "better" option.

It depends entirely on what the individual family decide works best for them.
Just because you think its better, it doesnt mean everyone has to do the same thing.

And people who choose to do it differently are not wrong.

Artandco Wed 09-Apr-14 09:24:26

We both work in high jobs and works fine here also. We both travel, and work late. It's works fine as whoever has easier travel that week takes children with them, and whoever can works late but from home. On a typical day at home both of us would be home by 6.30pm, and sped 6.30-9pm with kids swimming/ playing etc. then continue work in eve from laptop. One of us usually works from home alternate days give or take.

So today im at home. I woke 5.30am and worked 5.30am-8am with clients in diff time zone. Kids woke. They are eating atm and we will spend one together until 1pm. 1-3pm they will nap and il work. 3-6pm we will play. 6pm dh will take over kids and il work 6pm-10pm ish. So easily fit in 8/9ish hours work around kids.

Tomorrow I have a flight 7am, 2 day work trip. Dh and kids will fly at 12pm for one day work trip with dh to Berlin. Dh only has meeting tomorrow night so kids will stay in hotel with babysitter then in bed. Will then have time tmz afternoon and next am to explore with dh

Then we swap, change, work together

WooWooOwl Wed 09-Apr-14 09:37:09

YABU to think it's the better option for everyone just because it works for you. Different things work best for different families, because different families have different ideals of what they want out of life.

Your post comes across as rather smug and as if you want one up on your BIL and SIL.

dancingnancy Wed 09-Apr-14 09:42:33

Option 2 for us but of course there are pros and cons to both.

Husband earns so much more than I could and enjoys his work. Our lives are more relaxed like this. Problem if I need to work or support myself though.

Sirzy Wed 09-Apr-14 09:43:42

It's not about one option being better than the other. It is about what eorks for each family with the circumstances they have at that point

Preciousbane Wed 09-Apr-14 09:44:20

We had for many years one high powered job and one lesser job with me doing the lesser job role. It suited us and DH has a far better earning potential than I. I suppose my lesser job was pretty good at 22k per year. All new staff over the years had to have a degree and some at post grad level. I was the only one that didn't have one.

I also got to work compressed hours with a 7.45 am start so I could get DS from school so it was PT but not far off FT. I turned down promotion as it would have meant a return to FT hours. If DH was abroad I used some of the very reasonably priced wrap around care at DS primary school.

I think we were lucky as I had for many years the rocking horse shit rarity of a job in school hours that paid quite well and certainly well as a second income.

I think that this question is so specific to each couple that it will always be what works for that couple. Though quite often people don't have a choice.

dancingnancy Wed 09-Apr-14 09:46:21

Plus my husband would never want a lesser job (or not at the moment anyay).

formerbabe Wed 09-Apr-14 09:47:56

For my family I would prefer one high powered working parent and one SAHP.

The other choice would involve far too much juggling.

meditrina Wed 09-Apr-14 09:53:45

What is "preferable" is what suits you and your family at the time you are making your choice.

What seems right changes from time to time for all sorts of reasons.

I'm not wild about ranking jobs as "lesser" either. Having an occupation which satisfies you shouldn't feel "less" than anything else. And I am wondering if this is about external perceptions rather than best for a family.

WilsonFrickett Wed 09-Apr-14 09:54:04

Either option works. Both parents making employment adjustments is probably the only way society is going to become more equal though, and for businesses to start to normalise flexible working for both sexes, etc.

But I Work freelance from home to suit DS needs (SN) which means I took a huge income drop. And DH didn't fancy downshifting (he's one of those) so we've ended up with a very traditional set-up, to my chagrin.

JennyCalendar Wed 09-Apr-14 10:01:25

We fall into the second bucket with me as the WOHP. I would love more time at home (do get all school holidays though), but it is the better decision for our family. I've got much better earning potential and a solid career that I love. DH had sporadic income in hard manual work that he couldn't physically do anymore (also has no qualifications, is dyslexic and has two permanent conditions that flare up while working, plus he's nearing 50).

We started doing the both if us part time route, but it didn't work particularly well. Nothing was really getting done in the house, we were spending more than we should and it was a bit chaotic for DS.

I'm glad it works for your family, but it doesn't work for everyone.

Nancyandsid Wed 09-Apr-14 10:03:34

We have the second option but with toddlers/school aged. Our school doesn't have wrap around childcare, we have no local family and so we spilt the roles traditionally. It seems to work well at the moment and the main downside is DH not seeing the kids as much as he likes. Hopefully when the kids are school age DH will work a 4 day week and I can work a couple of days but still run do childcare/run the house

Forago Wed 09-Apr-14 10:07:03

personally I'd always prefer the 2 parents working scenario as then you are protected from redundancy etc and are showing the children a modern way of living with no implied gender bias (if its the woman with the "lesser" job) I presume you ate defining higher and lesser in terms of income, which is obviously a bit limited, but at least if both are working both have the potential to achieve a "higher" level.

now that my children are getting older, I see a lot of very frustrated women who want to work again but can't, even though the children could now be at after school club etc

JohnCusacksWife Wed 09-Apr-14 10:07:10

For us it's a version of the first option. I have a good job but choose to only work part time and my husband's self employed and manages his work around family life. He could work more/expand but has chosen not to.

We're both there for our kids and share school drop offs, pick ups etc. It means our kids don't have to do breakfast clubs, after school care etc and we generally just have more time together. We don't have as much money as some but we have enough and, for us, it's the best option.

sebsmummy1 Wed 09-Apr-14 10:13:04

What is working for us currently is one of us earning a fairly high wage and the other caring for my son. I earned 1/3 of my partners salary, so it made sense for me to do the childcare, though I am chomping on the bit to start work again directly he is at school.

sebsmummy1 Wed 09-Apr-14 10:13:44

My partner doesn't work silly hours and has a half hour commute, so we see lots of him thankfully.

Nancyandsid Wed 09-Apr-14 10:18:36

One of the issues we had to consider is that my hourly rate is about half DH's.

Hoppinggreen Wed 09-Apr-14 10:24:38

We did option 2,partly because we wanted to havetheconsustency f one parent caring for the children most of the time. Also, I doubt that given our past jobs it would be easy to get one of these so called " lesser jobs" as the skills we have probably wouldn't translate.
I gave up my career until both DC were at school and I have now started my own business that I do during school hours and after they have gone to bed.

Tessdurbevilliespoon Wed 09-Apr-14 10:25:25

What ever makes the individuals concerned happiest surely. Also, is it not better to say jobs demanding fewer hours rather than 'lesser' jobs OP?

WhatsTheWordHummingbird Wed 09-Apr-14 10:29:06

Dh and I work "lesser" jobs. He is a TA and as such has amazing hours, off every holiday, and gets enormous job satisfaction. I work in a customer care role, with awful shift patterns but it means I get a lot more time with dd tha if I did 9-5.

We are all incredibly happy, and all the money in the world wouldnt get me SAHMing while DH went off and worked 60/70hr weeks. He would hate it too. He wants to spend as much time with dd as I do, and this way suits us.

I dont think this is the right way - just one way of doing things, and its the way that works for us.

moominmarvellous Wed 09-Apr-14 10:32:24

Ours is a blend of both.

First 4 years we were option 2, then I went back to work so now we're option one with me also working a 'lesser' job part time during term times.

My job has the potential to grow as my children do, so I'll take on more bookings and commitments once they're both at school. Also gives me a pension and new training opportunities which is a bonus.

nowahousewife Wed 09-Apr-14 10:51:45

Most of us just do what works for our families and muddle on through. Can't say there's a right or wrong way to do things and sometimes things change as children get older.

In our case when children were small I worked PT whilst DH was full time. My career stagnated whilst his soared. As children got older and school became more serious they actually needed me around more so I took unpaid leave then decided that actually I needed to be a SAHP for a while. Now they are teenagers they only need me sporadically so I work freelance (at my old company) but am able to pick and choose when I work. Lately I've been full time but with GCSE's coming up am cutting right back.

Works for us but maybe not for others.

ShoeWhore Wed 09-Apr-14 11:03:22

I agree that it's horses for courses on this one.

I have plenty of friends who seem very happy with Option 1. It works for them and there is certainly the benefit of the dcs spending more time with their dads. I wouldn't describe them as "lesser" jobs though, just shorter hours.

It does depend on whether you can negotiate that flexibility though. Neither of our careers were especially family friendly and dh's old employers turned down flexible working requests from women let alone men. My job paid very well but involved a LOT of travel, long hours and unpredictability - it just didn't fit with how I wanted our family life to be. So we have that model of dh doing a high pressured job and me being more at home - full time when they were smaller, now I work part time. Like any arrangement there are pros and cons but overall it works for us.

I do think it's only when it becomes more generally acceptable for men to ask for flexibility that women will achieve greater equality.

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