To be completely confused about how childcare is supposed to actually work?

(154 Posts)
BonaDea Wed 16-Jan-13 15:34:25

Sorry for long post.

I'm 29 weeks pregnant and have been having a very preliminary look into childcare in my area. Partly because this is something I've never had to look into before and I just wondered, partly because someone mentioned waiting lists and putting babies on them when they're born (ok, this person might have been mad). I'm planning to be off for a year on mat leave so I have a bit of time in hand.

We haven't looked at nannies / nanny shares in any detail. Obviously this sounds easy, but very expensive and we'd like to explore other options first. So, have been having a look at nurseries and childminders. ALL the nurseries in our area have a closing time of 6pm, and you can possibly pay up £6-10 per day extra for a 6.30 pick up. Childminders are usually the same, some finishing even earlier. Am I mad to wonder how the hell anyone actually makes that work??

I live in London, where the vast majority of people have a commute of at least half an hour. At least. My own commute (I drive out of London, driving back at night) is anywhere between 40-60 minutes. The closer to 5pm I leave work (apart from the fact that my actual contractual finishing time is 5.30, but I am lucky enough to be able to relatively flexible) the busier the roads are, so it actually can easily take longer.

I'm in a professional job and work for a US company (I mention that because the time difference means often having to do conference calls and meetings near the end of my working day at 5, 6 or 7 o'clock). I don't see how I can actually make it work to have to leave my desk at 5pm every day, hoping to hell there isn't a problem with traffic and drive like a mad woman to get there on time. How do other people do this? Are there people who cover that 6-7pm slot for you - family (mine live far away), baby sitters, anything else?!

Or is the reality that it simply won't work unless we get a nanny at huge expense because then they are at our house with the baby and don't have 'closing hours' - although I appreciate you can't take the proverbial with them either?

We used a nanny share. A lot of people have one parent or GPs who can do it. We didn't have that.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Wed 16-Jan-13 15:36:57

You choose childcare close to work, not home.

bemybebe Wed 16-Jan-13 15:39:41

we have not started with our cm yet, but she provides 24hr care and charges extra in 15min increments for late pick up. the rate is 1pound more than her usual rate.
the point is there may be some cm like that in your area, try to look more around

My childminder has DD until 6.30pm, DH picks her up as I don't get home until closer to 7pm. If we are late due to train delays etc we let her know asap, she doesn't usually charge as we are rarely late, but in the contract she is entitled to charge £5 for every 10 mins late we are collecting DD.

I used to use a childminder as I found that CM's were more flexible on times than a nursery, although of course, there will be nurseries who do the longer hours as I am sure there are plenty of working mums who need longer/later hours.

wigglesrock Wed 16-Jan-13 15:40:18

Can your partner juggle work times a bit?

dinkystinky Wed 16-Jan-13 15:41:05

If you might be working late on a regular basis/stuck in traffic, I'm afraid a nanny or a nanny share is your best childcare option. I had friends who had their children in nursery and were having to pay £1 a minute for every minute after 5.30 they picked up their children! The stress levles were ridiculous.

We chose a nanny because my working hours can be erratic - yes its expensive but it works for us.

The alternative is find a childminder/nursery near to work so there is more likelihood of you picking up on time. Though a commute in rush hour with a baby/toddler is no fun either...

I think some childminders will keep children later, you will have to search specifically for this though.

From what I can tell, usually people arrange it so that only one parent has late or unpredictable hours, or they have family backup to help out.

Or, one parent will arrange with work that they cannot stay past 5 on two days a week, the other parent does the same for another 2 days, and they have a babysitter for the other day.

There are really lots of options. Perhaps you could make a deal with work that you have to leave by 5, but can be available for phone calls etc for an extra hour in the evening when you get home?

Sirzy Wed 16-Jan-13 15:41:37

Can you partner not help out at all?

Any friends who would assist?

I think childminders are more likely to offer the flexibilty you need but only to a certain extent.

EuroShagmore Wed 16-Jan-13 15:41:57

In the couples I know where both work, they time shift their jobs if possible, so one starts earlier than usual so they can be back for the pickup; the other starts later than usual and does the drop off. The alternative, for more flexibility, is a nanny, as you say.

Yy to childcare near your workplace if you have a long commute.
However...central london nurseries=more expensive. At least that was the case when dd was in nursery. That was 13 years ago though so it may not still be the case.

beachyhead Wed 16-Jan-13 15:44:02

Often one partner might drop off and the other pick up, so you can work slightly different hours each, but that never worked for me, so I went down the nanny route. It gets more economical with each child you have, though!

splashymcsplash Wed 16-Jan-13 15:44:23

Some childminders offer flexibility. Otherwise have you enquired at work about flexible working? You probably won't want to be working such long hours with a young child.

JassyRadlett Wed 16-Jan-13 15:48:14

Central London nurseries are a lot cheaper than my SW London one!

My DH stagger our start and finishing times. Two days a week I'm at work early and he does drop off. On days when I drop off, he picks up and I work later. We try to be flexible and cover each other in the case of early and late meetings. Both our employers are fine with this. We also work a lot after DS is in bed.

I don't know how single parents make it work, to be honest, unless they are able to work v close to home/nursery.

Omnishambolic Wed 16-Jan-13 15:49:06

Bear in mind that having childcare near work will mean doing your normal commute in rush hour with a pushchair.

What does your partner do? This is a joint decision, it's not all on you.

oneforthemoney Wed 16-Jan-13 15:50:34

Tbh, once you have the baby you may well feel that you want to make some changes that mean you don't have to have your child looked after by someone else well into the evening.

HappyJustToBe Wed 16-Jan-13 15:51:15

Would flexible working be possible in your job? Your employer has to consider it, I believe, whilst you have children.

We have an amazing child minder for DD. DH does drop off at 8. I start work at 7 so can pick her up at 4ish when I finish. My job mainly involves going to court so sometimes I have to work later. CM is happy to have DD until 6 and is so much more flexible than a nursery.

BonaDea Wed 16-Jan-13 15:52:35

Thanks for all the replies.

I think we would try to work it so that my DH would do morning drop off with our childcare provider (potentially allowing me to get to work early so the early finishes aren't so much of a problem?). He works really long hours - often finishing at 8 or 9pm (getting home at 9 or 10) so a 5pm finish for him would be like finishing mid-afternoon! That's just the reality and he earns well because of it.

Because he won't be home, I do wonder about whether I will in reality be able to say to work that I'll do any calls at home which might be necessary. If I'm home alone with a little one I just don't know how practical that is - even if in theory they are in bed at 7.30 or 8pm (when DO 1 yo's go to bed?!) I guess you never know if that will happen - what if they are crying or won't settle or are ill?. Perhaps we can work it so that at least on a couple of nights he comes home 'early' at 8pm so that I can at least be free to do any extra work I might need to...

I'll also just need to explore individual childminders in more detail I think. Many of those listed on the register don't have a website so you can't check these things easily without calling... which I feel foolish doing right now when the baby hasn't even been born!

maddening Wed 16-Jan-13 15:52:54

When I went back to work I got a nursery near my work - which was 45 mins from home - I started work at 8am so had to have the nursery there as they don't open early enough to drop near my house and get to work.

Especially in london it might be better financially to have the nursery near your work as I take it you work further away?

WiseKneeHair Wed 16-Jan-13 15:56:24

I'm sorry, I am sure you didn't mean to but you have annoyed the hell out of me! A child has two parents. Ok, some aren't together, but I am assuming that as you are having a year of maternity leave, that you are with a partner.
You work together as a team to cover cover pick up/ drop off. When your child is ill (and they will be) you work as a team to cover their illness. It should not be just down to you.
For your info, we have used various methods over the years. If YOU are doing the drop off/ pick up always, then I suspect you need a nanny. That is what we have now and if money were no object, that is what I would advice as, talking from personal experience, it has worked really well for us.

WiseKneeHair Wed 16-Jan-13 15:56:52

X post! i'll stop ranting now grin

SamSmalaidh Wed 16-Jan-13 16:00:15

For nurseries you probably do need to get your name down soon, many have 12 month waiting lists for baby spaces.

Your options are:
Nanny (then you are an employer and must sort tax, NI, holiday etc)
Nanny share (potentially very complex unless you are on good terms with the share partner)
Find a CM who will do a later pick up
Get a babysitter to pick up from CM/nursery
One parent does drop-offs, other does pick-ups
Reduce your working hours

Also I think you need to consider whether having a baby in childcare 11 or 12 hours a day, 5 days a week is what you really want for them.

CrazyOldCatLady Wed 16-Jan-13 16:01:08

We tried childcare close to work and it was a disaster. Our commute was an hour and a quarter and DD spent a solid hour each way screaming her head off. Most days I ended up crying with her. We lasted about a month.

We moved her to a creche in our village and she's much, much happier now. Unfortunately it restricts the hours we can work but we have no choice. Thankfully our creche owner realises that most parents in the area have a very long commute and has set her opening hours accordingly.

Our kids now do 11 hours in creche 3 days a week and are practically catatonic with tiredness by friday night.

There's really no easy answer.

NickNacks Wed 16-Jan-13 16:01:50

Because childminders have lives too!

With some parents wanting flexibility at the start of the day, it can be incredibly long day. And presumably nursery workers have to still commute home after you collect at 6.30pm??

lljkk Wed 16-Jan-13 16:03:08

You & patner juggle your shifts or find someone who can work more flexible hours like you need.

It turns into even more of a patchwork situation as they get older, and when you need to cover holidays.

swizzles Wed 16-Jan-13 16:10:23

I don't think evening conference calls will work that well for you. I could be wrong - both my kids were good at settling but TBH as I walked down the stairs I would be faced with a house that looked like it had been ransacked, clothes all over the floor, food smeared on the high chair. I would be exhausted and too tired to speak to friends on the phone like I used to or do anything much else. I certainly couldn't have engaged my brain.

I'm sorry...I'm not selling this am I? Somebody will be along in a minute to disagree and tell you about their superwoman abilities..but having a child is the most incredible upheaval you can imagine.

I think you should get your child registered with a nursery but I think your actual only option is an au pair/nanny.

Also, at risk of being judgy pants (and perhaps I've missed something), I agree that long childcare 5 days a week isn't ideal if you have a choice.

BonaDea Wed 16-Jan-13 16:11:16

wisw - you are right to ask the question about my DH. It's likely he'll take care of mornings allowing me to get away easily and quickly. He earns a lot more than I do and his work is what means I will have the opportunity to take the full year mat leave which I desperately want to do, it means we are able to live in a nice area in a great house. NOW, I'm not saying that lets him off the hook with childcare and everything falls to me, but we have to be realistic about who can do what. I will probably return to work 4 days a week, and will be able to work from home maybe one day, whcih should take some pressure off.

crazycatlady (I am one of those too!) - I did think about childcare near work, but it doesn't sit well with me for the reasons you describe. Also, it defintely means DH couldn't do drop off (he works in central london, I work way outside london) and if something happened there is no one local to help out in an emergency - although I can't rely on a friend or neighbours regularly, there are people near home who could help from time to time if a problem arose but no one near where I work.

To the person asking whether I want my child to be in childcare for 10 hours a day, 4 or 5 days a week.... Well, quite. Perhaps I should just be thinking of jacking it in for now, becoming a SAHM for a few years and taking a hell of a lot of pressure off everyone? It makes a lot of sense to me. DH is worried about the imbalance it would create between us, worries for my career (so do I) and I can't help but wonder if it would drive me mad.

CMOTDibbler Wed 16-Jan-13 16:19:09

We juggle our start/finish times to be there for the correct times. You'll be able to do the conf calls if you proactively work to schedule them for times that suit you. I'd work to negotiate some time working from home too - you'll need childcare, but you can be a bit more flexible with when you get things done.
Your dh needs to think about his long hours culture too, and what he can do to see more of his dc

I think it will be quite tough if your DH works so late and you might have late/unpredictable hours, and you both have commutes to worry about.

If you only have to go into the office 3 days/week, that helps a bit.

In your situation I would get a nanny for those 3 days, and perhaps a half or full day at nursery for the day you work at home.

It might be expensive, but you say DH earns a lot, you have a nice home, etc. Childcare is not the area to economise, if you can help it. The right setup will save your sanity and possibly your career.

WiseKneeHair Wed 16-Jan-13 16:33:01

It's ok Bona, it is one of my pet hates when childcare is seen as a mother only issue.
As far as working at all is concerned, then only you and your DH can decide. There are no right or wrong answers, just the right answer for you.
I agree that childcare is not the area to economise. If you have good, reliable childcare that your child(ren) are happy with, then you will be happy and better able to concentrate on your job.
Good luck. Hope you choose what is right for your family.

fairylightsandtinsel Wed 16-Jan-13 16:33:39

The issue of whether you want your child in childcare for 10 hrs a day is a totally different debate frankly. Provided you have added it up and realised the number of hours per week your baby will spend in childcare, ie going into it informed, then the decision you make from there is your choice where you balance your needs and your career with those of your child. For that many hours you may find a nanny preferable to the other options, especially if (as it sounds) your DP and you have well paid jobs. The advantage is that they come to you so you don't have to get your little one up, out and dressed before 7.30, plus they are "yours" so you can ask them to go to baby classes etc that you choose, rather than them fitting in with the childminder. We couldn't afford it but have long been envious of friends who can. they do the same job as us but often have extra evening commitments and just tell the nanny a few days in advance and she stays late, or even stays over. DH and I are constantly negotiating and swapping and juggling things to do the best we can by all concerned. You have lots of time to figure this out and you may find, once your baby is born and you've been on ML for a few months that you change your view about how much you want to do when you go back.

scaevola Wed 16-Jan-13 16:37:48

I'd say nanny when DC is very small, and swop to nursery + aupair when bigger (that way you can get some housework done for you too).

mumblechum1 Wed 16-Jan-13 16:41:49

I'd agree with saevola. I tried every permutation but dcs definitely happiest in a home environment, pref. ours, second best childminder.

Snorbs Wed 16-Jan-13 16:44:19

If transport to/from childcare is largely going to be down to you due to your DH's working hours, could you move out of London so your commute is more manageable?

lljkk Wed 16-Jan-13 16:46:46

There are a lot of threads on MN with posts from women who wish they had held on to their careers after having kids and not become SAHMs. Too hard to get back into work afterwards.
I don't regret leaving my old job (I was burnt out). Even though I fear I will never have a decent career again. But if you like your job, I encourage you to try to keep it going.

I would have killed for a nanny last winter when DS was sick literally every other week. He could not go to nursery half the time and we would have been screwed if we'd both been in full-time work.

The other good thing about a nanny is that you can keep your DC on the schedule that works best for them. We are very happy with our childminder but it's true that DS is very tired by the end of the week as he cannot nap there as well or as long as he does at home.

I think you will have a better sense of what you want a few months into your maternity leave. A lot will depend as well on your child's personality! It's definitely not too early to research now but keep an open mind for now as well.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Wed 16-Jan-13 16:55:09

Nanny is a fantastic option if you can afford it. Young DCs have a brilliant knack for vomiting/ coming out in spots/getting conjunctivitis the very day your board presentation is due and DH is travelling to Zurich - or at any rate mine did.

Working from home a couple of days a week also takes the pressure off - you'd still use childcare but only for 8 hours rather than 10/11. Any part time/WAH deal that's on offer is worth considering in order to balance things out, because packing the job in completely is a big gamble.

IfNotNowThenWhen Wed 16-Jan-13 16:58:24

Get a nanny. It will take the pressure off having to get a toddler out of the house on time every morning. It will relieve a massive amount of stress.

I do think that, although your Dh brings in more money, he does not seem to be under the impression that anything in his life/working day is going to change when he becomes a parent.
The fact that you are even considering quitting your job (and possibly career) altogether shows that you are bearing the entire brunt of the effect of parenthood alone. If you do this your career might never recover. This forum is full of women who did just that, and have become unemployable in their old career. I know some women desperately want to be SAHM, but it should be a genuine choice. You shouldn't be forced into it because you feel like you have no option.
Has your DH spoken to his employer about flexible working? Has he explained that he is intending to be a hands on parent? Has he explored the option of working 4 days a week?
Abd before you scoff, my VERY high powered sister went 4 days in her job, which technically she shouldn't have been allowed to do because she bloody well demanded it.
Until men step up and start realising that they have children too,and demanding that that be taken into account at work NOTHING will ever get easier for women.
Sorry for the rant, but it winds me up!

Omnishambolic Wed 16-Jan-13 17:00:18

Here here IfNotNow.

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 16-Jan-13 17:00:24

This has prob already been said but I do think that you will find things exhausting if you try to keep to the same working hours once your baby is here. For one if you are FT you will see very little of him or her and I would have struggled with that. I used to work until 7/8pm on a regular basis and I would have been dreadfully tired and unhappy if I hadn't made changes when DS1 arrived.

I now work FT and get home at 5.45 and still get to the weekends and feel I haven't seen my DC for a week.

I'm sure it is doable with a nanny, but not very enjoyable.

WiseKneeHair Wed 16-Jan-13 17:03:41

Three cheers for IfNotnow

Like many couples, I do the drop off and my DH does the pick up. We stagger our working hours.

Bonsoir Wed 16-Jan-13 17:05:28

A nanny offers far more than a CM or a nursery when your baby is little. First of all, you don't have to get your baby up and dressed and fed and deliver him/her somewhere early in the morning - on the contrary, you can let him/her sleep in late while you get ready for work. Secondly, when if your baby is ill, your nanny can still work. Thirdly, your baby won't be ill nearly as often because he/she won't be in contact with lots of other filth-infested DCs. Fourthly, you decide on the activities you want your nanny to do with your baby. Fifthly, it gives you evening flexibility (providing you work this out in the contract you draw up with your nanny).

Tbh looking at you and your DH situation, I think you need a nanny. Both my DH and I have very predictable hours. If we know we have a meeting so we can't make the pick up/drop off time, the other covers it. Remember childcare is only expensive for preschool years. And a nanny means the price won't go up when you have a second!

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 16-Jan-13 17:09:20

oh and would second hanging on to your career if you can. Tempting as it may sound to be a SAHM there will be a time when you want to go back to work and it's much harder once you have been out of the job market for a bit. Could you agree reduced hours with your employer ie 8-4 for 4 days a week. I used to do something like that and it really did take the pressure off. You may then be able to find a CM who would look after your baby until 5.30

Another round of applause for IfNotnow

Hang on to your career if you can - you sound a lot like me and I had a very hard time getting back into the workforce after about 6-7 years at home. I was lucky to find my current, well-paying, flexible job a 10 minute walk from home (not a stealth boast, really!) and been here for 3 years now and I finally feel like the old me again. I really was not suited to being a SAHM, if only I had realised it at the time I could have saved myself and DH a lot of heartache...

The time that your child(ren) are so small is incredibly short really, and before you know it they are in school and you are wondering what to do with yourself. But however short it feels, it is centuries long with respect to your career. A break of 4 or 5 years can easily set you back a decade professionally.

I know this is a long time away for you still, but our solution is a nanny. Worth her weight in gold! She is mostly an after-school nanny who picks up DD's from school, organises playdates, takes them to their after-school activities, makes sure they do their homewowrk etc. Most evenings when I get home from work (6.30ish) they are already in their pajamas.

We also have her work two full days (because she needs the money and quite frankly because the last thing I want to do on weekends or evenings is chores and errands and things) and while the kids are at school, she does our grocery shopping, drycleaning, laundry, makes dinner for DH and I to heat up when we get home, all sorts of things.

It will take some trial and error and some compromise from both you AND your DH, but you will find the right balance for your family. Good luck and congrats on the pregnancy smile

rainrainandmorerain Wed 16-Jan-13 17:26:12

I don't think this needs to be a SAHM v working mum debate, really, but...

Childcare is very much the responsibility of both parents, not just the mum, as others have said. And if I were you, I would be getting as many options on the table to give you maximum flexibility as possible right now (including being prepared for the possible feeling that you truly do not want your baby to spend a lot of time away from you - as well as the possibility that you may want to do some work to feel happy or fulfilled etc. You really don't know how you will feel until it happens!).

Which it sounds like you are, to some degree, if your dp is prepared to change his working hours. I would also check out how realistic your employers might be about reducing your hours, or flexible working. A word of warning - as someone who works from home with a small child, planning work calls or even planning when you can get a couple of hours in around bath/bedtime etc is really really hard. Unless you have someone else there to literally let you drop everything and run off to a quiet room to deal with it. And please - don't count on how much you will get to 'once they've gone to bed' with a small baby or toddler. They might wake up every hour teething - you might find yourself exhausted at 8pm with a mountain of domestic work and stuff to prepare for tomorrow, and no energy/inclination to several hours of demanding or creative paid work.

Seriously - it's not just a case of fitting childcare around your existing work, you do really need to think that this is a radical change in your lives, and much has to give to accommodate a child. I take it there are no relatives you can ask to help out with childcare, to give you any flexibility over pick up and drop off times? as far as career v childcare works when the children are v small.... in all honesty, for quite a lot of us, once you have paid for the kind of childcare that allows you to do your job, and that you are happy with, you may find you are making very little money. BUT for some of us, it is worth doing because it is easier to keep a career going, by the skin of your teeth, than it is to take several years off it completely and then try and step back in.

That said, many women find new and different work after having children, and after having time off. Horses for courses and all that.

Muminwestlondon Wed 16-Jan-13 17:43:53

As a fellow Londoner, I was horrified to find that most of the local nurseries were either too expensive (same price or more than a nanny) and there were no good childminders with vacancies in my area at the time (with waiting lists for the good ones). This was over 10 years ago, so things might have changed and my area is perhaps not typical, but I would start looking as soon as your baby is born and you have a back to work date.

As others have said, I think you would be very lucky to find either a child minder or a nursery that goes beyond 6pm.

One of my colleagues has a live in au pair who does the afternoon school/nursery run, and looks after the kids until the parents get home at about 6.30pm, but finding someone reliable and capable is pretty hit and miss in my opinion.

BiddyPop Wed 16-Jan-13 17:44:29

I got childcare near my office for similar reasons - I reckoned that if traffic was pants (not irregular situation), I could sing away to DD in the car or we could pull in somewhere for a quick feed or cuddle if really needed (b'fed). And it also meant that if work went manic, I could go, grab her and go back to work (didn't happen so much when she was a baby, but later on as a 2-4 year old it was handy).

It also meant that she was less time with them than if near home, and more time (even if commuting) with DH or I. When she got older, DH used to bring her in on his bike, and I'd bring her home in the car or I moved to the bus when she was almost 3 so we'd have decent chats on the bus (not just back of the head...).

And, an important consideration when she was little, was that if she got sick, I could pop over quickly and collect her, or even just see how she was doing (they were great when illnesses struck - phone parents and get agreement, give a spoon of calpol, strip off to nappy and see how child was in an hour, ring parents back - so parents had an hour to re-arrange and juggle if collection was necessary, while child had a chance to show it was nothing major if it wasn't). Rather than most near home where it was "come get your child immediately, and no we don't give any meds" - at least 45 mins away at BEST.

Does your employer have any childcare on-site or are there any options near the office? It may save lots of hassle.

BiddyPop Wed 16-Jan-13 17:49:57

Sorry, I hadn't read the whole thread, hope my thoughts haven't made the decision more difficult - it worked for us as DH and I both work city centre (not TOO far from each other) and DD was in creche between both jobs, so DH could drop and I collect mostly but allowed flexibility to swop.

Sounds like a nanny may be most useful in your home (maybe not live-in but agreeing to long-ish hours?), costs allowing.

BonaDea Wed 16-Jan-13 17:51:09

Definitely on board ifnotnow! I completely agree and am not trying to make excuses for DH. A big part of me also knows that I'll WANT to be the one rushing home to see the baby, even if that means knocking my pan in as a result.

I think I might need to start preparing DH for the possibility of forking out for a nanny. I hadn't really thought of the difference it would make in the morning... but that would be HUGE and would significantly reduce stress levels at both ends of the day.

CailinDana Wed 16-Jan-13 17:57:51

To add some balance to the great advice you've had so far, I just want to say that you may decide when you're on maternity leave that in fact you don't want to go back to work, and that is a valid decision too IMO. ML is a good time to see what you really want, and I don't think anyone should feel obligated to go back to work if they have the possibility to stay at home and they want to do that. For me, hanging onto a career, while important, would never trump my desire to stay at home with my children. Not because I love my children any more than anyone else, but because for me being at home is something I absolutely love and get massive satisfaction from. It is definitely true that taking time out of a career will almost definitely put you behind, but you might find that you're not worried about that.

In my case, I left teaching, which was a job I'd become disillusioned with anyway (despite loving the actual teaching, I hated the overall job IYSWIM) and I just couldn't justify spending long hours away from my child to do something that just made me frustrated and exhausted. As it happens I landed a part time job working from home in the middle of last year which neatly fits around my DS (I can get the work done in the evenings and during naps) which was pure luck and means I don't have a gaping hole in my CV. So I've ended up with the best of both worlds.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that leaving your job isn't necessarily a bad idea. But you need to be sure it's what you want, and that your DH will support you, really support you, and not treat you like a skivvy or a sponger. You have time yet to figure that out.

Tigerbomb Wed 16-Jan-13 17:59:01

When you are working from home, don't you still need childcare provision? My friend had to provide evidence that she could actually do her work from home

Fairylea Wed 16-Jan-13 18:03:21

I think you may be underestimating how exhausted and emotional you'll be after having a baby and a year of maternity leave. If finances allow you might find it a much better balance practically and emotionally to work part time.

LaCiccolina Wed 16-Jan-13 18:04:16

I worked at a us bank. It was impossible on the expected hours and conf calls to make it work as 5 days. They baulked at 3, compromised on 4. It was hell on earth. Impossible with nursery hours and work expectations. Mine too. I hated them and myself. My dd was upset unsettled and it didn't work.

That's me. I'm now a sahm. Personally works well for us. I thought when preg I'd be happy to return. I was shell shocked to discover I didn't want to. My opinions turned on their head. I had no idea before I would feel that way. I was also uneducated about children, how long a day that truly is for them. Timings of a toddler/baby day and how it affects them. Feeding/sleeping patterns.

What I mean is, plan a two options; return and no return. Identify internal processes to alter hours best u can. Plan possible nursery and yes put name down now. Plan finances for no return and also redundancy as us firms have good record of losing women who request flex working.

U really don't know yet how u will actually feel about anything. I cannot stress how much ur life is about to alter and if u have an ability to be flexible in taking a year please do at first as u can then shorten if u turn out to be a person that hates it.

What u need here is options so while u can plan what u can and cannot do. Whichever u choose in the end will be because of who u are about to become, not who u are or think u are at this moment in time.

Good luck

BlueStringPudding Wed 16-Jan-13 18:04:21

If you have room for an au pair, then a combination of au pair and childminder or nursery could work well. The au pair can help with the morning, and if necessary drop off and pick up. They also do light housework etc. You would need to have a spare room though and not mind having someone else living with you. I did this when my DDs were younger, and it meant they were always home and had settled in earlier than they would have been if I was picking them up. So it meant I had much better time with them in the evenings as I could then go straight into the bedtime routine.

SoldeInvierno Wed 16-Jan-13 18:06:26

we did nursery + aupair during the first 2 years, and then we staggered our working times so that one of us could do drop off and the other pick up. However, if you can afford it, I think a nanny is a much nicer option.

IfNotNowThenWhen Wed 16-Jan-13 18:06:53

Thanks for the applause! blush
It just seems that in the media I am always hearing about "women having children" and I always shout at the telly "men have children too!"

Thanks for not getting offended OP!
Of course you will want to rush home to your child, but if things are a bit more evenly spread between the two of you, and you know that sometimes someone else who loves your child will be rushing home too, it will help.
I think you should sit DH down and have a full and frank discussion of what you both expect to happen. Too many men assume that nothing will change for them, and often it really doesn't (aforementioned sister works with a lot of men who have sah wives which is a lot easier for them, and she works harder than they do just to stay in the game) but if DH wants to get on board there might be ways of making it work.

Look, even if he does ask at work, and they say "no way" it matters. The more men do ask about flexible working, partial home working etc, the more the idea of two parents will slowly seep into the conciousness of employers and society in general.
I hope.

BonaDea Wed 16-Jan-13 18:07:21

tiger - oh yes you definitely still need to have childcare. There is no WAY I could do my job AND look after a baby. But it takes a lot of pressure off at the start and the end of the day IYSWIM because I wouldn't be doing a commute to pick up the child (if that's what I do) just popping along the road to pick up.

As for the SAHM debate... It is a door I have definitely left open. On paper I like my job and like having a career. In practice I have never been one of these people who actually likes work. But I'm conscious that kids are not tiny forever and don't want to be suffering from empty nest syndrome in 10 years time...

IfNotNowThenWhen Wed 16-Jan-13 18:08:58

Also, on the childcare issue, if you are in London a Nanny might not be too much mroe than nursery, and, as someone else said, will not be more expensive should you have another child.

dizzy77 Wed 16-Jan-13 18:11:16

Popped on to also applaud ifnotnow too. Delighted to see you're already on board. Keeping your hand in is an investment in the future, even if the cost/benefit analysis is a close run thing for a while.

My tuppence worth is that definitely approach all conversations about childcare as a shared decision: yes, on ML you may have more time to do the leg work but it has to work as a family.

Also, high flying career men also have flexible working request rights when they become parents, and in my experience (sitting in on senior promotion discussions) can be seen as a bit of a hero for what is a perfectly normal bit of what would otherwise be seen as "female" juggling angry.

Checking his assumptions now (about the future family vs childcare balance, whether he already assumes something different to you on the go back full time <-> SAHM contiuum), flagging different possibilities/options/combinations of nanny/CM/nursery etc and that HE could request and action a change in hours will help plant seeds with him for when you really do have to make all the decisions as a family later in ML

My CM works until 7.30pm, and has done since I went back to work. It suits her - and us, obviously. If you're going to impose a very long day on your children then (just in my opinion) a CM is better as it's a more chilled out environment. When DD was younger, the end of her day at the CM was watching In The Night Garden on CBeebies - at my request - as that was what she did at home and it got her mentally ready for bed even though there was a car journey first. Generally DH picked her up just before 7 but we had her booked until 7.30 because we couldn't guarantee he'd be there then.

DontmindifIdo Wed 16-Jan-13 18:13:50

If you both have to work long hours and neither of you want to compromise on your hours, then there's no choice but use a nanny. You could compress the costs, could you both look at doing 4 days a week but longer days.

Also talk to your DH about the effectiveness of the hours he's working, DH often logs in to work in the evneings, but is normally home for 5:30pm (although he's at the office for 8am). Does your DH have to be in the office for those hours? How much is just paperwork that could be done from anywhere?

Pilgit Wed 16-Jan-13 18:18:28

I've been in your position - I've not read the entire thread so apologies if this is repetitive! We chose a nursery just round the corner from our house, partly for convenience but mostly because it was fantastic and our DD settled in straight away. They are open 7.30 - 6,30 and I commute to London (1.5 hours door to door) so drop offs mean i get into work at 9.15 and to pick up i have to be on the 5 o clock train (so leaving the office 4.45 - utterly impossible in my job except occasionally so when DH went away to uni 200 miles away, my mum and other friends stepped in to do pick ups.

I also have had to do considerable amounts of work at home in the evening. I am lucky in that my DD mostly settled well at night so I could be back working by 8pm for a couple of hours then up at 5.30am for a 6am log on and an hours work before getting DD up (this was during a particularly busy period). It's hard but it can be done if you are planned, have your routines in place, are highly organised and have a compliant child (thankfully DD usually is!) For me this kind of life was worth it as i love my job and career. However the highly timetabled, efficient and organised life where the slightest blip causes a butterfly effect is stressful and it has to be worth it! Crucially DD adores her nursery. Had she been unhappy we would have found another solution. Her being happy and settled was the most important thing.

MulledWineandScully Wed 16-Jan-13 18:21:00

I have no family around either, at all, and no friends who I could or would ask to help out. For us it's a combination of:

I drop off, he picks up. We are flexible on this and communicate if one or other of us can't do it though
My work are really flexible - I do my hours as and when and can sometimes work from home
My CM is pretty flexible and charges same whatever then just tots it up. If I need to drop before 7.45 or pick up after 5pm I just let her know and she's fine about it but there is a trade-off and it works both ways iykwim.
My CM is near to home, not work, as DH works all over and I only work 10 mins away.

Even with all this in place it's still really hard sometimes and I don't recognise my working life any more - I hate having to rush out of the door regardless if I'm picking up and there's an impromptu meeting. But I'm just sucking it up for now, if I get pulled up about it at work then I'll have to go part time or make some other change. I am considering quitting and working for myself anyway so it may be the push I need. You have my empathy and sympathy, I couldn't work it if I had your commute and was doing drop off and pick up.

MuggledWoman Wed 16-Jan-13 18:21:57

Once you actually have the baby you may well find your feelings towards work change and that you don't want to be away that late in the day. You can always talk to work about a more flexible arrangement. I have a professional job with a big finance company and have arranged to work 8 until 4 and if I need to, I can log in from home later on once DS (2) is in bed..don't really have to that often though as I am ten times more efficient with my time at work since returning from mat leave. I only work 4 days as well and treasure the other day to do fun stuff with DS. All babies are different but at 1 years old, DS was in bed asleep not long after 6.30 so it just wouldn't have worked picking him up that late...

Spuddybean Wed 16-Jan-13 18:26:18

I am reading this with interest OP. It will be unlikely i can return to work because of this same issue. I am facing the few skills and abilities i have to dwindle and i will be virtually unemployable in 4 years time.

BikeRunSki Wed 16-Jan-13 18:29:08

I commute into Leeds, my commute is also 40-60 mins. Today was more, both ways! I a to work 8 am to 4pm and pick up the DC from nursery. DH aims to work 8.45 to 5 pm and he takes them. Could you and your partner do something like that?

BonaDea Wed 16-Jan-13 18:30:11

pilgit - your routine sounds like hell - you must really really like your job! smile

I am going to discuss with DH again. We have the same basic job although have followed very different career paths in terms of subject matter expertise, working environment etc. So, I get the fact that it is not just him saying 'I can't / won't' it is just not set up like that. The women who make it to his level are either childless or battle hardened (one I spoke to recently took 6 weeks mat leave with all three of her boys). This isn't right. I'm actually an employment lawyer, so a) I'd like to see my company try to sack me for asserting my rights; and b) I am extremely alive to discrimination issues and see how they play out in real working environments frequently.

I do worry about the time he will get to spend with the children and we've already in theory agreed that he'll have at least one 'early night' when he comes in time for bath time. Fortuntately, his MO has always been to have hellish weeks but free weekends, so at least he won't be sloping off to the office on Saturdays / Sundays as well. I guess it is fair to say, though, that I have not really tested his expectations. I assume they are in line with me, but I guess ingrained assumptions work both ways, right? I also DEFINITELY think he can work from home a couple of evenings, so even if he is working, he's there and present and visible for DC.

riverboat Wed 16-Jan-13 18:34:26

Reading this thread with interest. I have no DC yet, but have always wondered about this very same issue. No family anywhere near us, both have an hour's commute...very interested by all the useful advice on this thread. Good luck with finding the best solution for you OP.

givemeaclue Wed 16-Jan-13 18:42:43

Can you reduce your working hours? 60 plus hours per week in childcare isn't ideal. I say this as a working mum working for an American company do calls from home in evening etc. But I work 4 days per week

BonaDea Wed 16-Jan-13 18:56:33

Yep, pretty sure that I will reduce to 4 days per week (and honestly if they say no to that I think I will just leave). I also hope to get a regular day from home to take pressure off a little bit.

KellyElly Wed 16-Jan-13 19:01:06

I had to reduce my hours. No choice as no family close by and as I was going back to work my relationship with DDs dad was ending. I spoke to my work and said I could work 9-5 four days a week with a half hour lunch bread. If they hadn't agreed I would have had to look for another job but luckily they did. I have friends who work in much more high powered jobs than me and they finish at 5 and then work at home in the evening and try to work from home one day a week. You just have to talk to your employer and make it work, not just dropping off and picking up but when your child's sick etc. It's not easy smile

louschmoo Wed 16-Jan-13 19:05:21

Hmm, it is really difficult. We have been very lucky that my work are quite family friendly, and we found a fab childminder who lives down the road. My husband drops off at 8 and I pick up at 6. I went back to work 3 days per week plus managing email remotely on the other 2 days (so officially out of office but able to deal with urgent request and generally keep on top of things). Work were amenable to this and rstructured my role to suit - I was very lucky. But my husband has also altered his attitude to his career considerably since DS arrived. He has always worked long hours (in office 8-7/8 typically plus work from home at weekend). And he is the main breadwinner. But he found after we had DS that he wanted to be home more so he now goes in later on drop off days and makes a concerted effort to be home for bath and bedtime at least twice a week. He also has taken on his fair share of sickness cover when DS has been ill, and generally being as available as poss for the unexpected things that come up like picking DS up if my commute is buggered, for example. And the working from home has been pretty much knocked on the head. It is important to my DH that I am able to commit to my work as much as poss, and he has accepted that that means we both have to make adjustments, not just me. This has made it much easier as I feel like we're doing it as a team. I think DH likes me working as it is less pressure on him financially and in the long term it will benefit us all. So he has compromised to enable me to do this. It does mean though that he is 'ticking along' a bit at work right now. But he's still working a lot of hours so it's just tough for his company to be honest!

TheCarefulLaundress Wed 16-Jan-13 19:06:45

Make sure you get time to enjoy your baby.

ZenNudist Wed 16-Jan-13 19:06:56

Can your work be flexible? Perhaps allow you to work from home on the days you have a call then you can get home in non-rush hour traffic and get more time working.

I changed my work hours so I do 8 to 430 (more like 830 to 5 most days) supposed to beat rush hour traffic and pick up by 6. Wouldn't work for you. Try and find out what other mum's of small children do at your place. If there aren't any that speaks volumes!

louschmoo Wed 16-Jan-13 19:13:50

Sorry, one more thing then my epic post will end! I went back to work when DS was 6 months old. This was partly because I was ready, partly because we had found a great CM and also because it put me in a strong position to negotiate my new part time role. I work for a msall business and maternity cover is a real headache for them. Knowing that I was planning to go back quite quickly made them much more amenable to giving me the hours I wanted. If they hadn't agreed I would have taken the whole year off. (There was no pressure from them for me to go back early BTW, but they were bloody grateful!).

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 16-Jan-13 19:16:12

OP there is a really strong financial argument for you both working that might help here - if only he works, because he is paying HRT on all earnings above the threshold, he has to earn a massive amount more to cover what you would get taking into account your nil and basic tax rate bands. An incremental pound earned by him above HRT threshold is worth much less than the same pound earned by you at the nil or basic rate.

He has just as much legal right as you to request flexible working and it may give you more net income and job security if he does do just that.
I would really think it would be good that he does at least one childcare pick up a week so that you know you have at least one clear night a week to stay on at work. He should think about a four day week too, if you both want that.

Your life cannot go on the same way but that should apply to both of you.

<parks hobby horse next to IfNotNow's>

Florin Wed 16-Jan-13 19:19:58

Also worth bearing in mind you may have to be back early or have a nanny to put the baby to bed. My ds goes to bed at 6 doesn't matter how we try and alter his naps he won't change his bedtime so we have to be home for this. I am staying at home with him partly as don't see how I could do a job around this.

Mintyy Wed 16-Jan-13 19:25:48

Op - am very curious. What kind of childcare did you think you would be able to get and at what price and what sort of hours do you think is reasonable for a baby of less than a year old to spend in a nursery?

bigkidsdidit Wed 16-Jan-13 19:28:30

I agree with Doctrine and Ifnotnow

Assuming you decide not to be a SAHM, both of you dropping a bit is easier to manage and better for both careers, IMO. DH dropped to 4 days and I stayed 5 days but leave early on three of those. We also big do regular days at home. Neither of our careers have been affected at all tbh and we share sick days. Our relationship has flourished too as we have such an equal partnership smile

rainrainandmorerain Wed 16-Jan-13 19:41:19

just be careful that if your dh works very long hours, or does the 'hellish week/free weekend' thing that he isn't expecting that time to be be rest and recuperation from work. Because while looking after small children can be a lot of things, from hugely rewarding to frustrating and knackering - it ain't rest and recuperation.

I don't want to sound doomy - but this is something I see a LOT in couples where the mum isn't working very much (I only know one sahm). The husband works a lot more - and then gets resentful when he doesn't get a lie in on a Saturday, or is asked to do bath and bedtime when he gets in from work, or wants to play golf etc on a sunday. The mums say 'why isn't he HELPING me, he doesn't understand, I do everything and he says he's too tired to help!' and the men say 'I've been working, I'm tired, I deserve a break’ etc.

If I could wave my magic wand right now, I would magic up a long period of parental leave from work, that had to be shared by both parents, so each got a good stint at being a sahp. I think the labour market would improve, I think the quality of family life would be better, and there would be far less friction between mums and dads.

GotAnyGrapes Wed 16-Jan-13 19:42:24

You do need to discuss it all with your DH. Whilst you're doing do, take the opportunity to discuss what's going to happen in 5yrs time when you will need to cover 13+ weeks holiday a year. Sorry to sound doom and gloom but in my experience, once they reach school age is when childcare really gets tough!
Good luck and congratulations on expecting your first baby! It's a wonderful time so whilst this is all important, don't let it fill all your waking thoughts! smile

BrianButterfield Wed 16-Jan-13 19:44:02

Most people I work with have childcare near home but I opted for nursery near work. I have to commute by train with a pushchair which is its own hassle, but now DS is nearly 18m it's getting to be good fun. It is nearly an extra two hours a day I spend with him and it's nice to have that time to hang out, look out of the window and chat. OK I have the odd nightmare journey but overall it's worth it. Today for example I took him from nursery into the town where I work. We met a friend for tea and got the train home to be back for bath time - precious hours I'd have missed out on if he was in nursery near home.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Wed 16-Jan-13 19:44:36

Great posts Cailin and IfNotNow

nannynick Wed 16-Jan-13 19:57:59

BonaDea, as a nanny I love working a 4 day week, so if you did do 4 days you should get nannies interested in the job.

Do post on the Childminders, Nannies, Au-Pairs Etc board. We can do you cost calculations, describe pros/cons, to help you decide if a nanny is something to consider.

I agree with IfNotNow that it's important for your DH to at least ask about flexible work options, even if they say no.

By coincidence, I've just edited a report for a big multinational company (don't want to say which but trust me you know it smile) which had lots of interviews with senior executives about balancing work and family life. I was really impressed how many men, not just women, negotiated some kind of flexible work, either a 4 day week, or leaving at 5 pm most days but doing some work at home later, or things like that. This was all seen as very normal and in today's world, where work can be done everywhere, very progressive.

If you can both get some flexible work, it will make life so much easier. Understandable if he can't actually get it, but I think it would be wrong if he didn't actually try.

MrsMelons Wed 16-Jan-13 20:15:08

I took a career break from work after my maternity leave. I was lucky enough that they agreed to keep a job open for me but at reduced hours (minimum of 3 days a week). I had 5 years off altogether then managed as DS1 was at school and DS went to pre-school 4 days 9-3, I had help 1 day a week from my mum so I could make up some hours.

I am in a professional job and did wonder how it would affect my career being out of the lopop for so long so I did some related voluntary work that I could fit around the children whilst I wasn't working and actually was a bit part in me getting a good promotion within 6 months of going back to work. I only work 30 hours a week though but actually do a full time job so on occasions do e-mails in the evenings/weekends and on my day off.

I was worried I would hate having to plod along a bit at work but it just fits in well as I have the flexibility with the children but also am still furthering my career. I do get lots of annual leave and have the help of my parents so I only work very very reduced hours in the holidays.

I am not sure if this would work at all in your job but thought I would share my story and a different view with you!

MrsMelons Wed 16-Jan-13 20:17:16

Just another thought, if you were unable to have any flexibility at work I would definitely have a nanny/au pair. I think it would be much nicer for you and the baby to have that continuity - school/CM/nursery runs are V stressful. Also it may give you the opportunity to have extra help at home depending on what type of nanny they were (ie help with washing/housework etc).

I have no idea of costs of nannies so I may be being completely unrealistic.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Wed 16-Jan-13 20:34:01

I do think that a lot of couples don't think the childcare implications through when they move to commuterville before having babies. Not this OP specifically, since you have an unusual reverse commute, but a lot of women do seem to only realise that 8 hour day + 75 minute commute each way + extra 15 minutes getting to nursery each way = childcare nightmare once they're reaching the end of their maternity leave.

IfNotNowThenWhen Wed 16-Jan-13 20:39:29

My God you London people work long hours! Scary to think that working 8-5 is considered a short day! I know it's like that, but it does make me wonder about the "presentee-ism" still going on in most professional jobs.
So much can be done remotely and outside of office hours these days, but it's like employers just don't trust their employees at all.

Interestingly (and I think someone upthread mentioned this) most people who do go p/t after children seem to get just as much work done as the full timers.
My friend works 3 days in financial services.
She told me that she brings in more money than her male colleagues because she just goes to work and cracks on with it. However she is not entitled to bonuses, being "only" part time...
Having said that her partner does work from home 2 days a week, so is available for pick ups/drop offs/ill children on those days.

I agree with rainrain that having a very uneven split can cause resentment on both sides btw. In some ways if your DH can alter his hours/days to accommodate a child he will be more in the mindset of a parent and less likely to expect the status quo of long week/ lazy weekend.

foreverondiet Wed 16-Jan-13 21:01:35

A nanny share with another family with a baby of a similar age will work out same price as nursery. We did that when dc1 was a baby. The girls are still best friends and they are 9. Both us and the other nanny share family also couldn't make nursery work due to occasional later evenings. Now my dc are aged 2,6 and 9 and we still have nanny as no other childcare are would work. Either renegotiate your or your dh's work hours to always leave at 5pm own the dot (hard in circa you describe) or start looking for nanny share family.

foreverondiet Wed 16-Jan-13 21:07:14

On reading the whole thread again I think it will only work for you with a nanny or like minded nanny share. Also that way they can look after your baby when I'll.

nokidshere Wed 16-Jan-13 21:20:46

I'm a childminder who works unsocial hours. My day is normally 8-6 but I am happy to do earlier and later for parents who need it. With small children I am happy to take them home when all the other children have left, get them washed and in pj's so parents can have some stress free time with them before bed. I also do not charge late fees for commuting parents.

The children do not suffer from being in childcare for long hours. Home based care is obviously better in your scenario either at your home or the childminders home.

You need to speak to some childminders to see what is available to you before making decisions. There are plenty of flexible ones around. And in 13 years childminding I can count on one hand the number of times I have had to take off sick, so its not always an issue either.

Oh, and it really isn't too early to start making plans.

Could you handle / do you have the space for someone live-in? Around here there are oodles of families who have live-in help, very lovely women from Asia (Phillipines mostly) who are godsends. They are usually mums themselves too, sending money back home to their families (which makes me sad, thinking of them missing their own DCs). A possible alternative to an au-pair, whom you can't really leave in sole charge for long periods of time... Just a thought.

Weissbier Wed 16-Jan-13 22:09:07

Also throwing my hat high in the air for IfNotnow. I told DH, we split a year's ML 50-50, 6 months each, or no second child. He is doing it...I love DD1 more than anything in the world, and I would change my work for her in a heartbeat if I had to. But I also love my job, and as my cup of happiness is full with DD1 by herself, another child was only something I wanted if DH pulled his weight so I could continue my work as well. There is nothing wrong with being a SAHM, but as IfNotnow says, it should be a choice. Men often need a hand taking on board that they have to change their lives too. They don't have the pregnancy, they don't have the physical upheaval, for example the night DD was born DH left the hospital, wondered what to do with himself, went to a bar, had some whisky, went home and slept like a log, which isn't what I was doing :D. But I think all that does help women get their heads round the situation faster. It's not like all husbands are deliberately crap or unsympathetic.
DH is very good at doing his share, and he has got better and better the more practice he has had. I haven't found it very easy to be assertive about stuff like him taking days off work to help cover for illness, but I have also got better at this the more I have practised smile

I agree with everyone who says nanny. Nurseries are really tiring for small children, DD does 8-3 aged 2.5 and it is enough for her. Small children are also ill every five seconds, particularly in their first year of childcare, and always when you have a really important meeting. If you can't accommodate that yourselves or through family, you must get a nanny who can or you will go mad.

Also, have all your working hours covered by childcare/DH, don't reckon on having the energy to do anything in the evenings. I actually do work evenings because of DD being much happier at nursery until 3 and not 5, but I have to really force myself to do it and I am also supported by DH so I can make up some of the missed time at the weekend rather than always at night (again, something he's got better at understanding with practice).

pingu2209 Wed 16-Jan-13 22:18:02

Im starting as a childminder and I'm doing a daily set hours of 7 am till 7pm at a rate of £60/day (£5/hour). This is exactly because people need to commute and don't need to worry about working later or if the trains are late etc.

Half days will be 7am till 1pm or 1pm till 7pm. The hourly rate will be £5.50.

If someone doesn't want those options, I will be flexible in hours but at a minimum of 5 hours a day at £6/hour.

Any time before 7am or after 7pm will be charged at £10/hour, payable in 15 min increments of £2.50. So 7.02pm will be £2.50 extra, £7.18pm will be £5.00 extra etc.

Childminders often put their set hours as 8-6 but are prepared to work longer hours, especially if you intend to put your child in their care for full days and perhaps 5 days a week. Call them up and ask.

KoalaTale Wed 16-Jan-13 22:18:10

I'm in London suburbs too. I work 8-4pm. Dh does morning drop off at childminder at 730.I collect at 530. He works late in the evening.

I cut back to 3 days per week, dh is five days per week. Could you change your working hours like I did?

DialsMavis Wed 16-Jan-13 22:27:36

My friend works for a company that sounds similar to yours. She goes into work early and her DH does the school and nursery drop offs, she finishes early to get back and collect from after school club and nursery by 6pm. She gets the DC to bed then does all her conference calls etc. she says life would be much easier with a Nanny though. wink

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 16-Jan-13 22:33:04

Bona I laughed to myself when I read you are a lawyer. I am too and found the demands of a law firm incompatible with a proper family life. I know childless women and battle hardy ones who have succeeded in law, but really most of us don't. Most of the female lawyers go part time and are sidelined for partnership or move into a different area. I used to do Commercial Property and it became quite clear to me that being a mother and working for a global law firm (as I did) are not compatible.

I have now moved into commercial property management which is far more 9-5 and no weekends and I know many others who have made moves career wise to suit their family. That is one reason why there are so few female partners in law firms, not to mention the outright discrimination once you are pregnant or have a child.

So really see how it goes and be prepared to adapt your role at work to suit the demands of your family.

BTW I know how hard city lawyers work and although some families make it work with the husband working round the clock and the wife at home, I don't think I have seen one happy family make it that way.

RainbowSpiral Wed 16-Jan-13 22:58:44

My friends in high paid jobs in London all have nannies. We chose to move out of London before having kids as I couldn't see it working and didn't like commuting myself, let alone a baby.

mrlazysfishwife Wed 16-Jan-13 23:23:13

I use a nursery that's open 7-7, that's one of the reasons I chose it. I usually drop off at around 7.50 and pick up around 5.30. But, with traffic nightmares there has been the occasional 7pm pick up!

I'm in London too, though I work in an outer borough. DH commutes in the opposite direction so the drops off and pick ups are all down to me (DH can do them in an emergency but it doesn't work as part of our daily routine).

We also chose a nursery near home as it means we can still use it if I'm not in work (off sick, for example, or when I was on mat leave with DS2).

At the moment my commute to work is about 40 mins including nursery drop off. But, I'm looking for a new job as I'm unhappy where i am, and my childcare is a really limiting factor unless I drop the DC's off at 7am to then drive home and walk to the station to commute to wherever which I don't want to do. It's bloody frustrating, I feel quite stuck but can't see any other way at the moment.

blueshoes Wed 16-Jan-13 23:27:36

HeartsTrump, you mentioned getting live-in help from Asia. How do you sort out the visa?

blueshoes Wed 16-Jan-13 23:35:09

Funnys, on the topic of female lawyers, I work for a global law firm (in fact 3 at last count), but since dcs were born work pt and now ft in a non-fee earning role. The pay is good for the hours I do and this latest role is pretty cushy and quite flexible. I have to admit I am a rarity though but I wonder why don't more women lawyers do it!

shesariver Wed 16-Jan-13 23:37:41

In my case I manage because Im married to my child-minder! grin Yes my DH is a male child-minder so I dont need to worry about picking my boys up late. He is very flexible with his hours, children are dropped off from 730am onwards and are generally all picked up by 630, and this is not every night so its ok. He would watch later if necessary, the only thing you can do is ask childminders.

bemybebe Wed 16-Jan-13 23:38:42

I would definitely consider cm/au pair combo and will do it myself if I decide to return to an office job.

farewellfarewell Wed 16-Jan-13 23:39:41

But those who drop babies off before 8 and pick them up a little before bedtime, when do you spend any time with your baby? Fathers and mothers alike-weekends? OP use whichever mode of childcare gives you max flexibility, you might find that after your baby is born your plans (or those of dh)might change when reality bites. Some of the schedules mentioned upthread sound like tough going, for the adults not to mention little ones.

malovitt Thu 17-Jan-13 06:50:38

I'm a cm operating along the same lines as nokidshere

I'm based in central London and look after a child whose parents are city-based lawyers with unpredictable hours. I am available from 7.30am until whenever - usually 8/8.30pm but occasionally longer if necessary! If the parents are going to be really late, I too offer to take the child home and settle him there. I do get paid very well but know I am really appreciated, the parents are lovely.

Whereabouts in London are you. OP?

I know other cm's who work extended hours.

Mimishimi Thu 17-Jan-13 07:40:19

Based on the information you have given us and your husband's views on you possibly staying at home (ie he would be unsupportive of that), I think a nanny would be your best option really. Group childcare only works very well for those who have regular hours and also shorter hours than the two of you have. I would be very wary about hoping friends and neighbours will do emergency pickups because they may just not be available or, not unreasonably, simply not want to do it especially at dinnertime or if they have children of their own (even if they appear to have the time to do it). With nurseries, the children get sick a lot the first year or so anyway ( based on the experience with my two), and you would be spending a lot of time taking sick leave. That one on one care is really optimum in the first couple of years. Good luck smile

lljkk Thu 17-Jan-13 07:53:22

Keep in mind that Nanny can be ill, or want holidays different time of year from you. You may end up with regular Nanny and holiday Nanny (I had regular CM and holiday CM). Or filling in hours with nursery care. It's a patchwork.

blueshoes Thu 17-Jan-13 08:48:55

I found the nursery and live-in aupair wraparound care quite a good option. The aupair can do the nursery run. She provides first line backup if the child is ill. If the aupair is ill (which touch wood was rare), at least the nursery is still there for the bulk of the day.

An aupair does light housework during the day whilst the child is at nursery, so you don't have to worry about keeping on top of that. And it is always handy to have someone in the house when you want to pop out to the shops or have babysitting on tap.

The aupair also papers over any unexpected late nights at the office. Now the children are much older, she kicks in when dh or I have to travel.

For babies, you would need to look for an aupair with experience with babies and supervise and train her and keep her on a very short lease for a while e.g. you could have her start and train her before you go back to work. The period she has sole charge must be very short e.g. just school run and a bit before you get home. But as you observe her, you will know if she is sensible and can be trusted.

I used a live-in aupair for wraparound nursery care from when ds was one (dd was 4 then) and it worked very well.

I still have an aupair even though both ds and dd are now in ft school.

Of course, hiring an aupair and getting a good one is an art in itself. Lots of tips on this board.

buggyRunner Thu 17-Jan-13 08:57:44

My DP and I plan to split it (as I'm going full time from part time at the end of the month) dd's are 18mths and 3.5. When I worked part time I dropped off and picked up as I worked 2.5 days and chose a nursery next to work.

You may find that your desires and goals change or you may find that you are chomping at the bit to get back to work- either is fine. Personally I left a risky job when I had dd1 and I'm going back into it now the children are older as I just couldnt loose the bug.

When I go full time- dp will drop off and I'll pick up as I will commute but work a 9-5 and he will do a 9-6. The plan is I'll get in early at 8am and exersize at work to get that done as we wont have time after work as I'll want to spend max time with the kids before bed time.

You'll start to learn (if you havent already) why all the 'undersiable- ie low paid/ few hour' jobs suddenly become very desirable as they fit in with school hours- ie teacing assistants, dinner ladies, cleaning etc.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 17-Jan-13 09:12:09

How are you getting on, OP?

fraktion Thu 17-Jan-13 09:29:24

I would try to shift working hours or negotiate 4 day hours over 5 days (so instead of 4 8 hour days you do 5 6,5 hour days)?

I think a nanny or share is going to be the best option. Most nannies will be very flexible if that is part of the arrangement and you give them appropriate warning.

We're currently doing nursery & au pair which is quite good but au pairs want to spend a lot more time with the family than nannies which can get a bit wearing after a while.

As nick said, pop over to the childcare board to see what would be a good/affordable option. I don't think you can just rely on nursery care.

WhataSook Thu 17-Jan-13 09:35:39

you say we so I assume you have a partner, but myself and DH have had to change our working hours once DD came along... I start at 7.45 and am there to collect DD at 4.45 and DH drops her off in the morning at 8 and he gets home at 6.30.

I also work for a US company and just can't schedule any calls from 3 -7pm but I do take calls once DD is down. It's a pain but you need to find a good CM and if you are there 99% of the time on time then I'm sure the once in a blue-moon you are late because of trains/traffic mthey will understand.

You do get a bit more flexibility once you have a child I have found.

I also work from home a couple of days a week so then I do the drop off and pick-up, you should ask about this option too.

WhataSook Thu 17-Jan-13 09:36:31

sorry my post should say I collect DD at 4.45pm

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 17-Jan-13 09:48:49

OP, both DH and I worked long hours before kids, we both now share childcare responsibility equally so we leve early on the days we have to and sometimes work late on the days we don't. We have both still progressed, got promotions etc. do other people with SAHPs as partners do more hours than us and maybe get agead quicker? Yes, but the financial hit, specifically with respect to tax, means that this is still financially the best solution as well as suiting our characters and interests.

When it comes down to it, and you have to leave to collect a child/relieve the nanny, you do it. You just go. Same applies to your DH. You will change the way you work and that's not bad, just different.

Good luck!

KristinaM Thu 17-Jan-13 09:50:28

Great advice here. I would advise against you making all the compromises in your career while your Dh makes no changes at all. You will both end up resentful of each other.

BonaDea Thu 17-Jan-13 11:44:18

Am amused by the lawyers on the board sympathising!! Let's just say that DH is a partner at a global law firm. Perhaps you can understand why the thought of him finishing at 5pm or working 4 days a week is such a joke. It's not necessarily because he wouldn't want to do it; it's just completely insupportible. His career is WAY more important to him than mine is to me and will allow me to go p/t and take the full year mat leave, too. I've already moved in-house, from a hellish global firm (which is why I do the weird reverse commute), so I'm already in the best family friendly environment (for a lawyer!!) I could hope for.

This thread has been so interesting and it's given me a lot of food for thought. Chatted through some of the key ideas with DH last night (he made it home before me AND cooked dinner, shock horror!). My current thinking is that nursery would be a lot 4 days a week, 10-11 hours per day, for a one year old. My ideal will be that I work 4 days a week, one day from home and we find a 4 day a week nanny share OR 3 day a week nanny / nanny share with one day at nursery (good for socialisation, I guess) and I could do pick up and drop off on the day I work from home.

Also gathering that no one else thinks it is too early to actually start looking at this. As soon as this baby arrives safe and sound (no jinxing before then), I think I'll at least register with some of the local nurseries and also perhaps meet some childminders. I might also sound out some of our NCT class (starting in 2 weeks) about whether a nanny share could be a good option for them!

I feel like I at least have a plan...

dinkystinky Thu 17-Jan-13 11:48:57

BonaDea - I'm a corporate lawyer at respected city firm. My DH used to work here but went on to work outside the law but works v similar hours to your DH. For us, that's why a nanny (who has been with us over 6 years now) was the only real option. We dont have a nanny share as we wanted maximum flexibility with our nanny. I really couldnt do my job without having her as we work as a team together.

By the way, don't get so hung up on the socialisation aspect of nursery. Babies with SAHM socialise too! There are many many toddlers group. I'm sure an experienced nannies will know all about the groups around your area.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 17-Jan-13 12:03:49

OP, I kind of guessed he was a partner but he is also going to be a father.
Until more men start thinking about their working patterns when they have children, regardless of seniority, the same old expectations will be reinforced...

Anyway, of course you will and should do what works for you as a couple and a family but please take care and consideration for all your own aspirations as well as his. I really hope you find a good solution and am wishing you well.

<where is Xenia? grin>

fraktion Thu 17-Jan-13 12:14:16

I would avoid split care on different days. Nursery can wait until the get the funded hours, nannies often have a good network and they'll go to groups etc just like a SAHM.

In that report I just edited, most of the men who took some kind of flex-time were in senior positions equivalent to your husband's. It was actually because they were so senior and important that they could swing it. It could just be little things, like 'between 5 and 8 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays I'm not available, but I can take calls/emails in the evening after that'. Things are spelled out and everyone adjusts.

You have to do what's right for you, it's just that there are sooooo many threads on here from women who downsized their own careers, their husbands work long hours and can't do anything during the week, can never take off if there is illness or holidays, and it just does not seem very sustainable long-term. It may not sound so bad in the abstract, when you consider all the plus sides, but in practice the down sides are so much more immediate and the plus sides seem more ephemeral. You may not care so much about being able to take a year's maternity leave if you are on your knees from sleep exhaustion and totally on your own all week.

Does your husband plan to work these hours forever? What are your long-term plans as far as balancing work and family life? Is he expecting his work life to basically not change at all, ever? I just think some frank discussions now are a good idea, you really don't want to be arguing about this when you have a newborn and are exhausted and adjusting to it all.

TripleRock Thu 17-Jan-13 12:47:08

I work for a law firm too, although in a regional office rather than city.

My employer was fairly supportive of my flexible working application (of course they have to be whiter than white on these things which is in your favour imo). I had a year off too and I went back to work 3 days per week, and work a compressed day 9-5.

My request to do a further half day from home was refused for various reasons.

I am in a fee earning role and we have played about with various ideas to make it work, including a job share which was a mixed success, but broadly working part time does work. However, I do feel that my prospects for promotion are virtually zero at present due to working part time. However, I'm hoping this is something that can easily be changed in the future and would clearly be much harder to address if I was out of work altogether.

I do DDs nursery pick ups and drop offs and am there to get her by 6 o'clock latest.

Its a very long week for her even now at 2.3.

However working part time has brought a much better balance to my life generally. I am in the process of finishing a work related qualification which should enhance my future prospects, plus have just taken on another part time job working for a charity which I would clearly have never been able to do if I was working full time. So overall I'd say its the right balance. Not perfect but about as close as it could get.

I'd say if you can afford it go for a nanny, get part time hours and push for home working if you can. Good luck.

I would avoid doing work calls from home if at all possible - 1 year olds don't all go to bed, exactly... they might go to bed, wake up and howl, go to sleep again, wake up and howl some more, on and on ad infinitum!

And if they're not in bed they'll be tugging on your sleeve, spilling things on the sofa, throwing things at the cat... especially if they see you on the phone wink.

x2boys Thu 17-Jan-13 13:37:59

i have never used nurseries or childminders partly because i cant afford to [ get no help towards childcare ] and partly because no nursery or childminder caters for those of us who work unsocial hours i,m a nurse [ without charging ridiculous prices] even the nursery at the hospital i work at only opens monday #friday 0700 -1800 hrs which seems a bit daft seeing as most of us t hat would be using it work evenings , weekends and nights!My dH works shifts so we work opposite each other

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 17-Jan-13 13:49:05

Op, how does your DH see the next 5-10 years developing for him? He's already a partner. What are his other work and life goals? Does he want to get £x in the bank then retire etc?

olgaga Thu 17-Jan-13 14:03:57

I have a friend who is a childminder (not in London) and she has a waiting list which includes a number of children who've not yet been born!

I think the earlier you start making enquiries re childminders and nanny-shares, the better.

If you're commuting into London don't even think of getting childcare near work unless you drive. The overground and underground are both pretty awful re crowds and accessibility with a buggy at the best of times. They're horrendous in the rush hour.

toobreathless Thu 17-Jan-13 16:00:26

It was me (on the April 2013 thread) that mentioned sorting out childcare well in advance & no I am not 'mad' just a professional in quite an inflexible job like you.

I can only tell you how we make it work:
- I work mon to fri 8.30 am till 7pm, I drop DD at nursery weds to Friday at 07.30, we pay more for breakfast club.
-DH works weds to Sunday. 0700 till 1700. He has DD Mondays and Tuesdays and I have her Saturday and Sunday.
-DH is home in time for pick up weds/Thursday/Friday.

So DD goes to nursery three days a week which I am happy with, we both work fulltime. On the downside we get very little family time together as without one of us taking annual leave we work every day of the week.

If DD is ill, we discuss and the person with the 'least important day' IYSWIM looks after her. This is about 50/50. It is a massive pain for both our employers as I am a Dr and would have to have up to 30 patients rearranged & DH is an RAF pilot! But we make it work. DHs attitude helps hugely, he is such a great support and we are in this together. You need to discuss this with your DH as it is not fair on you or your employer to have all the responsibility for picking up collecting etc.

bemybebe Sat 19-Jan-13 21:07:38

I was also considering childcare close to the uni and decided against it as it is pretty horrible for the lo to commute. besides, if you need to use childcare but not travel to work it is better to have someone local to your home.

PurpleCrazyHorse Sat 19-Jan-13 21:44:54

If we could afford it, I'd pay for a sole nanny for DD. We have a lovely CM and DH covers almost all the drop offs and pick ups (he has his own business so is very flexible). However, it's a problem when DD is ill and at the moment we have snow so haven't been able to drop DD off on Friday and possibly not Monday at this rate. CM is open 8-5:30 but if DH is away, I need to leave work early to pickup. My job is also flexible but it is a stress. I'm now getting anxious about DD starting school full-time in September. We'll have to totally change our arrangements, find a new CM and DD won't be able to have friends home after school. At least a nanny would be a constant.

I'd agree about not worrying about socialising at nursery. Our CM does loads of things with DD and I'm sure a nanny would go to groups too.

DH and I both work full time and DD is now 3.5. At 1yo, DD wasn't sleeping through the night, was still taking ages to go down at bedtime and there's no way I could have done anything in the evenings!

Mutley77 Sat 19-Jan-13 21:55:24

I think you will need a nanny if you and your DH want to continue working full-time at the sort of hours you do. Certainly as time progresses if you want your child to attend a local pre-school.nursery school at age 3 where they will be likely to join the school community, and then going on to school at age 4/5 you will need a nanny to facilitate that for you.

It's a personal choice whether to do this or to re-negotiate your hours and let your career take a back seat and obviously that's dependent on numerous factors, not least whether you need the money.

noviceoftheday Sat 19-Jan-13 22:27:08

We have a live in nanny for all the reasons you mention OP. more importantly, what has worked well for me is (sorry to use a hackneyed phrase!) thinking outside the box with the objective being to maximise my time with the kids. the majority of my clients are in the US. it means i leave home just before 9am (so spend a couple of hours with the dcs in the morning )and I leave by 6.15pm each day which gets me home just 7pm. It means calls have to be done by 6pm but I do any further additional calls from 8.30pm onwards when the dcs are asleep. It is rare that something is that urgent that it can't wait 2.5 hours. I am able to make this work because I don't enable dh to carry on as if his career is more important than mine or allow only my life to change because we have had kids. He does M&A but my expectation is that unless they are closing that week, that he will be at home to see the kids at bed time. Once they are asleep he can get back on it. Eg last night he didn't come to bed till 1am but he was home at 6.30pm and put one of the dcs to bed.

Your dh does long hours now but the key question is how is he going to change his working patterns once your baby is born. If nothing changes you can kiss your career goodbye and join the long rank of partner wives, most of whom are effectively rich single mothers because the husbands are never there for the day to day parenting.

foreverondiet Sun 20-Jan-13 00:07:52

Having read some of the thread, I think you have to get a nanny. I tried with a nursery when DD (my oldest) was 6 months old. The one near work didn't work as she screamed in the car both ways (hour drive). The one near home didn't work as it finished at 6pm and it was a full hour on the train and it was too stressful to leave work at 4.55pm every day and then stress if trains delayed. Also she was ill several times during the first couple of weeks, lots of days off for me. We couldn't find a suitable childminder (ie one with any flexibility after 6pm who had spaces at short notice). And unlike your situation my DH was very flexible, he was doing either the dropping off or picking up.

We ended up doing a nanny share with a friend (who we met in NCT class) and it actually cost LESS than the nursery. We bought a double buggy and a travel cot each and took day about... She looked after them even when they were ill and we made sure that either my parents or DH's parents or an emergency nursery (or our annual leave) could cover her holidays (actually 2 of the 4 weeks is at our choosing (ie when we are away), luckily she (the nanny) is rarely ill.

Also she does other things a nursery couldn't do, like take the DC to the doctor's, buy them shoes, take them for haircuts, take them to the dentist. Ok shoes and hair can be done at weekends but doctor and dentist can't. She took them to be weighed at baby clinic etc.

And actually 8 years later we still have the same nanny (although its just for us now). Unless you want to renegotiate your hours, its the only way to keep your sanity. Yes I give her more than half of what I earn, but its the only way I could keep on working. At some stage soonish once DS2 in school we will get an au pair.

re: socialising - we had nanny share so the 2 girls played together and from 2 the nanny took them to baby groups. DD went to nursery at 3 and was not disadvantaged from not being in childcare earlier.

re: work calls from home, I wouldn't agree to take conference calls in the evening at a set time unless you don't mind your baby crying.... but fine to call people if you know she/he is settled. I work part time and have taken work calls in baby groups / while watching baby gym, walking to school etc etc.

foreverondiet Sun 20-Jan-13 00:13:53

Read more of the thread - I think best to have same environment every day, I think one day a week at a nursery would be unsettling so not sure its a good idea - perhaps a couple of mornings from 2 years would be good.

Also if your DH is a partner at a global law firm surely you can afford a nanny?

I also think would be reasonable for your DH to say that one day a week he leaves at 5.30pm to see his child and put them to bed (although he could work at home later, ie take calls from 8pm after your baby in bed) that way you could have one day a week to stay later. The day could vary depending on meetings but be blocked by his secretary in his diary.

quoteunquote Sun 20-Jan-13 00:46:04

My sister in law who has a similar situation to yours,both on long hours London, uses a combination of a childminder/nursery and has a live in aupair(s) who drops off children and picks up, does the running around clubs.

blueshoes Sun 20-Jan-13 01:19:50

Novice: " If nothing changes you can kiss your career goodbye and join the long rank of partner wives, most of whom are effectively rich single mothers because the husbands are never there for the day to day parenting."

Now ain't that the truth. My thoughts exactly, having worked in 3 'global law firms'.

Murtette Mon 21-Jan-13 00:42:10

I guessed from your first post that you and your DH were probably both lawyers! A few things which I'm not sure have been mentioned or, if they have been, may need to be re-iterated as, as a lawyer myself, I know that they will crop up:
- if you use a nursery, your DC will be out of the house all day (inc for breakfast). Therefore, you will get home to the house just as you left it. For the couple of weeks when DC1 was in full time nursery, we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it made our life as all we had to do was make sure she was dressed in the morning. We didn't need to worry about food or anything else for her. Having said that, I hate the thought of a young child being in group care for such long days every day but I felt I should point out the upside!
- if you nursery does offer early drop off & pick up, be aware that your DC may not like it. Our DD is perfectly happy to be dropped off at normal time when some of her friends are there and she knows others will arrive shortly. She hates being dropped off when its just her and one or two other children & not her keyworker (the early drop offs & late pick ups all get put in the same room with whoever is on the early/late shift at our nursery). It makes drop off much harder.
- if you are always doing pick up, what will happen if you have work drinks or a training thing etc in the evening?
- if you are always doing pick up, you then have to be home all evening. You can't pop to the gym or the supermarket or for a drink with a friend. On the other hand, your DH's post-work social life won't be affected
- does your DH ever do all-nighters? If so, who will do drop off then? Or what happens if he gets a new client who wants 8am meetings? Will you be able to do both drop off & pick up?
- you may well be knackered. DD didn't sleep through until she was 2.3. From 15 months on, she usually only woke once and it was brief but she still woke and needed our attention. In the mornings, she had to be got ready as well as us. As she's got older, all sorts of things I'd never thought of can delay us...not having any clean Peppa pants could lead to such a meltdown that we now have about 30 pairs of Peppa pants so that is not an option; other mornings she'd just decide she didn't want to leave the house and, whilst you can physically remove a kicking, screaming toddler from the house, you cannot strap them in the car seat when they go rigid & arch their back even when (embarrassingly) you have asked your neighbour to help. So, there's that to deal with and then you race to work... and then you race to get to pick up on time...and then you're doing bathtime and your DC's 6th sense knows you're distracted as you're thinking about the call you've got to do later and so plays up (again) so you get more tense, they get more tense etc
- if you have a nanny, they should be able to receive and unpack the online supermarket shop, let a plumber in etc. Whereas you & DH could survive for a week without, say, the boiler working by showering in the office, it would be more a struggle with a baby
- work on the basis that you're going back to work full time and line up childcare now. If you change your mind later on, all you'll have lost is a nursery deposit - and goodwill if you then need to use that childcare provider later down the line. DO NOT make a SAHM/WOHM decision until the baby is at least 9mo. Between about 4mo and 8mo, maternity leave is bliss. The baby should be in some sort of sleep, feed pattern, you'll have made some friends etc and the baby isn't moving. As soon as it starts crawling & pulling up, life become very different & you may change your mind about what to do!

At my city firm, there are at least 4 women working full time in my transactional dept & managing to juggle childcare. They do seem very tense at times though. There are also partners who have SAH wives and a full time nanny so I don't think your DH should quibble the cost too much if you have a nanny if you return to work. You're going to have to pay a premium whichever childcare route you take as you're going to be asking someone to work pretty anti-social hours & will need them to be completely reliable, flexible about extra hours & generally prepared to go the extra mile to make it work for you.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 21-Jan-13 06:40:45

Wise post, Murtette.

emmyloo2 Mon 21-Jan-13 06:51:46

I'll repeat what others have said - get a nanny and be prepared to adjust your hours. My DH and I both work full-time but we have good hours and are both home by 5.30-6pm at the latest. I am never home later than 6 and he sometimes works until 7. If you are not finishing until 7pm or your DH until 9-10pm, he won't see his child. And it's much much harder putting a child to bed than you would think, plus there is dinner and bath time and stories. It's all quite exhausting and time consuming and so I wouldn't be expecting to be able to do hours of work afterwards. However, my DSIS tries to have conference calls etc after she puts her 18 month old son to bed, and she is about to have a breakdown because of the stress.

It is very difficult juggling but as someone else said, you really can't work long hours (mother or father) with a young baby. It's very difficult.

emmyloo2 Mon 21-Jan-13 06:59:33

and should also add I am a lawyer and have worked in a number of law firms and find them quite incompatible with parenting yuong children. Partners tend to be male with SAHW and they never see their children. I moved into an inhouse role, hence the ability to walk out the door at 5.15pm every day.

bringonyourwreckingball Mon 21-Jan-13 07:13:56

Get a nanny. We didn't when we were in a similar situation (both lawyers, big law firms, very long hours) and I regret it hugely although the money would have been a struggle. I am now in a fixed hours role and do all drop offs and pick ups, dh is a partner and works very long hours, my career is effectively over and I do resent it. I think if you go back to work you need to have a shot at doing it properly, then if you find it's not working out I'd say get out of law altogether, do something different. And whatever you decide regarding childcare you need to make very sure that dh understands that children are a joint responsibility - it's too easy to sleepwalk into assuming it will always be you who takes time off if dc are poorly etc.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Mon 21-Jan-13 07:55:42

I would add to Murtette's excellent points that if you have a nursery that does late pick ups some DCs get genuinely distressed by being the last to be picked up in the evening, can be quite upsetting for all concerned.

Murtette Mon 21-Jan-13 09:04:53

One other thing I thought of after I'd gone to sleep last night - if you work for an East Coast US firm/company then disappearing between 5pm & 7.30pm isn't the end of the world as its their lunchtime and, as far as they're concerned, there are still plenty of working hours in the day in which to have a conference call as 7.30pm is still only 2.30pm. However, think about the impact it will have on your UK colleagues if you're constantly having to re-schedule calls which could have been at 5.00pm until 7.30pm. I really resented it when I was on the other end of this. Say you have a call at 5.00 which lasts an hour... that means you can start doing whatever follow up you need to do on that matter or turn your attention to another matter at 6.00 which means you may still be able to get out at a sensible time (by which I mean 9.00). If the call is pushed back to 7.30, obviously everything else is pushed back by those 2.5 hours. And during those 2.5 hours things may have cropped up which you obviously haven't been able to deal with and so its had to be fielded by one of your colleagues whose left in the office thus pushing their going home time even further back.
Obviously, people do do that (women in my firm do) but do not expect to be popular as a result, especially amongst the juniors who it is most likely to affect. And do not expect the person left in the office to be sympathetic to the struggle you had due to traffic problems/toddler tantrum/forgetting to buy milk as they won't give a damn as, not having had children, they don't understand - or care!
The other thing to think about if you do do that is how good your home printer & scanner are if you need to be dealing with long documents. I did not appreciate the person working from home in the evening calling & asking me to run the deltaview/write down their dictated comments etc as they couldn't do it from their blackberry.
Its only in writing this that I'm remembering how much I did resent being supervised by a mother who disappeared at 5pm to do the nursery pick up every single day!

Back to the nanny thing - if you do do a day from home, flag this up to the nanny in interviews and think about the practical side of it. Where will you work in the house? Will you have any contact with your DC during the day? How will you make this clear to your DC? Most nurseries I've come across will not take a child for just one day as they never settle and can't join in the activities properly (by which I don't mean the singing & the running in the garden but the themes which they do - for example your DC would only ever have a very minor role in any Christmas play thing as it would only be able to rehearse once a week). So, you either have a full time nanny or do nursery for two days and a nanny for the other days.

noviceoftheday Mon 21-Jan-13 09:28:05

I think Murtette makes some excellent points in her posts. I just can't imagine the stress of getting dc1 ready on a workday. As it works, I get the cuddles and breakfast together and then the dcs disappear with their nanny to have a wash and get dressed while I have my shower. We then meet up again 25/30 mins later, when everyone is dressed. They are usually already in the car waiting for me as they drop me off at the station. This routine vs what Murtette describes is one of the big pluses to having a nanny.

Also if your dh is a partner in a global law firm then he is on a minimum of £250k. You can afford a nanny, even if it Means making cut backs elsewhere. Women often make the fatal mistake of looking at childcare costs as coming out of their money (which is usually the lower) and this inevitably pushes them into a position where their career is effectively over because it plays second fiddle to their dh's career.

As regards Murtette's point about not being popular with colleagues if you duck out of calls between 5pm and 7.30pm, i totally get it, but equally, I suck it up. Ie at times it isn't going to make me popular, but there are other ways that I make up for it, so I don't feel guilty. <dons flame retardant hat!>

mrsSOAK Mon 21-Jan-13 09:54:54

having a child means making changes to your lives for both you and your partner.
Things are unlikely to be able to go on as they did before and quite frankly you shouldnt expect or want them too.
Your priorities should have changed.
Childcare is a difficult thing to organise, there are options but your work life is not going to be the same as before.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Mon 21-Jan-13 10:07:03

Do you have a spare room? I would suggest you get an au pair who can do nursery drop off and collection for you. They don't do all the childcare but can be very useful in working families to bridge the gaps. They'd also be able to help with putting baby to bed, useful if you and DH have to work from home in the evening. This is much cheaper than having a nanny but obviously you do need to put the au pair up as well.

dixiechick1975 Mon 21-Jan-13 10:50:15

You are not being silly re looking into child are now. I can remember feeling awkward looking around dd's nursery at 3 m pregnant but if I had left it I wouldn't have had a place.

Agree it is good to discuss this now.

If your dh is surrounded by partners with sahm wives he will have no idea re the impact on work.

I work in a small law firm (not London) where all the partners are male and have sah wives. It is like 1950.

blueshoes Wed 23-Jan-13 12:57:57

Love your post, Murtette. Brings back a lot of memories which I blanked out now that my dcs are older, especially the bit about toddlers arching their back and going rigid in their carseats or rushing around in morning. Also, I used to dress dcs to bed in comfy clothes that they need not change out of to go to nursery, so that is one less battle.

Wreckingball, if OP finds it a little too much, rather than leave the law as you suggested, there are many other options she can explore first, like working as a PSL or inhouse lawyer. I left the law and worked in support services in my law firm. I regretted it - pay was poor, work was dull, the culture of the people you work with too different. But then again, I loved fee-earning and being a lawyer, just did not want to hack the hours and unpredictability.

I am now a ft inhouse lawyer in a global law firm (US-based). The hours rock and the work is still interesting. Pay is decent - will never compare with senior fee-earning but way better than non-law - and worth getting out of bed for. The best thing is the flexibility and my work life is quite stressless. I have a live-in aupair and children are now in ft school.

Queenoftheharpies Wed 23-Jan-13 13:18:06

My childminder is amazingly flexible - the norm is she works til 6 but she doesn't charge for late pickups.

One of the other children she cares for is with her from 5.45am until 9pm for 3 days of the week.

bringonyourwreckingball Mon 28-Jan-13 22:42:55

Blueshoes I'm glad it worked out for you - I am a PSL and frankly it's grim, no money or respect and no career prospects but still stress and travel. That's probably partly due to the ethos of my particular global law firm but it's not an easy option

ceeveebee Mon 28-Jan-13 23:05:43

Absolutely get a nanny.
My DH is not a lawyer but works for a bank in M&A and is just not able to be around during the week. I did a sideways move from a senior finance role to a technical/compliance role which allowed me to reduce to a 3 (long) day a week job when I returned to work after my maternity leave with twins

Our nanny is wonderful, she does breakfast, dressing them ECG so I can get out of the door in the morning, she takes them to lots of groups and activities, cooks for them and sometimes us, does all their laundry and some of ours, writes me a shopping list and receives knline shopping order, leaves the house clean and tidy every night, helps me with bath and bedtime and (within reason) doesn't mind me being a little late back now and then. She also babysits for us occasionally. I couldn't go to work without her

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