to ask how you juggle schools/childcare if you have a high powered/busy job?

(82 Posts)
suebfg Mon 18-Mar-13 21:22:48

I work part time at the moment but may have to go full time soon. DH's job often takes him away from home and I don't know how we'd cope with the school runs if we were both working full time (other than having DS in breakfast and after school club every day of the week).

How do you cope? I have no family locally to help out sad

BumpingFuglies Mon 18-Mar-13 21:24:12

A childminder, maybe?

LangenFlugelHappleHoff Mon 18-Mar-13 21:25:07

Get a nanny

Springsister Mon 18-Mar-13 21:25:45

We have an excellent childminder.

ceeveebee Mon 18-Mar-13 21:26:10

We have a nanny but our DCs are pre schoolers.

ChestyLeRoux Mon 18-Mar-13 21:28:13

Breakfast and After School club

suebfg Mon 18-Mar-13 21:29:07

Would a childminder offer any benefit over the after school club do you think?

I guess a nanny would be in our house but do they work for just a couple of hours a day as that is all we would need the cover for?

idshagphilspencer Mon 18-Mar-13 21:30:44

I need breakfast and after school club and dh and I juggle.....a lot.

Schooldidi Mon 18-Mar-13 21:31:11

Breakfast and after school club every day of the week.

Dd1 did that from year 2, before that we had help from my parents.

Dd2 is at a childminder 5 days a week and has been since she was 6 months old.

They are both fine, and thriving.

Icelollycraving Mon 18-Mar-13 21:31:24

We both work full time but ds is in nursery. In some ways I think this is easier than when he will go to school. No family or support locally either,
Could you find a childminder?

SlowestLoris Mon 18-Mar-13 21:31:58

I have dds in wrap around care and, truthfully, it's pretty hard. But then, I'm on my own. Having a DH would be bliss, practically speaking. I find that I end up feeling as if I'm doing a crap job of both, which isn't ideal. But that's when I'm feeling low. On the good days it's fine!

Artichook Mon 18-Mar-13 21:32:12

Au pair: can do drop-off and pick-up and tea. Also available for babysitting. Do you have a spare room?

We use a nanny but it is expensive, you get total freedom to concentrate on work but at a price. We will move to an au pair once all ours are school age.

Toasttoppers Mon 18-Mar-13 21:33:22

You just have to, my mind wanders back to driving both dc at 6.30 am with one still a babe in arms to drop offs and then to my desk by 8.30. I did sit with youngest whilst they had breakfast in nursery every day. I used breakfast and after school clubs.

We live hundreds of miles from all relatives. I have never added up exactly how much we spent over the years. I fear I would faint on the spot if I did.

ceeveebee Mon 18-Mar-13 21:33:40

Well you can get an after school nanny perhaps, to collect from school and take to activities or stay until you get home from work.
But no, I would think most nannies would want to be paid for the whole day.
Nanny/housekeeper? Some nannies are willing to do cleaning/cooking while DCs are at school
Nanny share with another family (with preschoolers?) perhaps?

suebfg Mon 18-Mar-13 21:35:01

It was much easier when DS was at nursery as the norm was for the children to be there pretty much all day. Now most children go home at 3.15 so it is just a few that go on to the after school club. If DS goes in breakfast and after school club, his day is 7.30 - 6.00.

It's a lot I think 5 days a week.

HollyBerryBush Mon 18-Mar-13 21:35:04

School clubs only run from 7.30-6 - I used to need to be at my desk at 7.30 and came home about 8pm - child minder all the way

manicinsomniac Mon 18-Mar-13 21:36:07

What is your career? Is it something children could fit into?

I'm probably quite unusual but I became a single parent while I was at university so I was able to make all my career choices based around how I would manage childcare etc. I chose to go into teaching in an independent boarding school so my children can be with me the whole time that I need to work and can stay as late as I need them to. They are often at school with me from before 8am until 11pm and I don't need to pay anybody to look after them at all! (plus they get an amazing education for almost free). In the school holidays they can come into school with me and play in the woods/fields/playground/sports hall or I can work from home.

Choosing career based on children has been an absolute godsend for me. I have no family close by either and have no idea how I'd manage without the school.

Flossiechops Mon 18-Mar-13 21:36:07

I am able to take the dc to school every morning as I work close to school and can get there just after 9am. I only work 3 days for this reason, juggling it all is hard plus then there is school holidays to factor in. I am very fortunate that my parents collect dc from school if I'm working and take them to theirs. If I didn't have them I would use the after school club or a childminder.

nenevomito Mon 18-Mar-13 21:38:08

How do I cope? Badly grin.

To be honest, if it wasn't for my DH doing almost all of the childcare / running around etc and for my parents being so bloody generous with their time, I'd never manage it.

MaryQueenOfSpots Mon 18-Mar-13 21:39:32

We manage similar situation with a childminder - I pay for more sessions than I actually use as some weeks DH can do drop off/pick up and sometimes he's not here at all. DS is an only child and one of the unexpected benefits has been how much it has helped him socially - much more than Pre school where he only socialised with children of the same age.
It's worth asking around other parents to see who has a good childminder. Even if the recommended childminder has no space, asking them who they would recommend can give you a shortlist. Putting your child into any care is a leap of faith at the end of the day, whether you go for before/after school club, nanny or childminder.

madwomanacrosstheroad Mon 18-Mar-13 21:43:33

I suppose if you work full time your choice is to leave him to school (breakfast club) yourself or see if he could go to a schoolfriends house in the morning and you either pay or do a favour in return. You will need after school care. Which type depends on your circumstances. I used a creche when they were small, now i still use that for the youngest who is pre nursery age. For the one who is in primary school i use a cm who has children at the same school. Obviously when making the choice between cm or institutionalised childcare one annoying side is that when you use cm, you are kind of tied to their holiday arrangements. You do however have the advantage that you are more likely to find out if there are problems such as child being unhappy at school etc. It is also more likely that you can negotiate for your child to do homework. In my experience homework in after schools was not great and when we got home near 6 pm trying to juggle dinner and homework with exhausted kids was horrible. It is tough, there is no other way of putting it. My main tip would be to try to get a cleaner once a week so you dont spend the entire weekend catching up with housework.

Delayingtactic Mon 18-Mar-13 21:44:22

Childminder. I have always been honest with my CM that I sometimes have unavoidable delays to me getting out. I pay for a longer day than I normally need and they understand why I'm late.

We have a combined spreadsheet on excel with our shifts matched, when longer days are needed and when one of us needs to take annual leave to cover clashing shifts.

MsDeerheart Mon 18-Mar-13 21:44:57

childminder i think give more time to chill out compared to after school club -and more flexiable - as after school clubs can be quite fixed -whereas my childminder if I get stuck in traffic is ok
or you could look at an au pair if you have room

nevergoogle Mon 18-Mar-13 21:48:03

wake up 7.30am
drop off at 8.15am at breakfast club
start work at 9am
leave work at 5pm
pick up from after school club at 5.45pm
home 6pm
dinner 6.30pm
DH arrives home 7pm, does bedtime routine.

FantasticDay Mon 18-Mar-13 21:48:38

How flexible are your hours? I go in early and dh drops kids off at school, then I pick up from school 2x per week and after school club 2x or 3 x per week, while he works later.

suebfg Mon 18-Mar-13 21:50:54

It isn't a problem at the moment but I need to find another job and am struggling to find part-time work.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Mon 18-Mar-13 21:55:30

artichook, can i ask you, when you switch to an au pair what will you do for school hols? Take time off, or increase au pair's pay to reflect increased responsibilities?

williaminajetfighter Mon 18-Mar-13 21:57:03

Like others breakfast and after school club every day. I have to leave work at 5 to pick up by 545 then home, dinner, homework, bed and then I usually work from 830 to 1130pm at home to make up the hours.

To be fair after years of working like this I'm getting quite sick of it as its exhausting.

Sometimes it's hard not to growl at the SAHMs dropping their kids at school then heading out to the gym while I'm racing to work. Guess I should have done an MRS degree.

thegraduand Mon 18-Mar-13 21:58:13

DH and I both work full time, DD is 4. The key is sharing responsibility, shared calendar we can access from iphones, laptops etc, everything outside normal working hours (working late, work trips, nights out) have to go on there. Share nursery pick up and drop off, I get into work early and leave early, DH does the opposite. Parents are willing to help when we are desperate, but they are a 3hr drive away. Understanding bosses helps, as does working at home some days and evenings. And don't try and do much else, we don't get to the gym etc.

happyfrogger Mon 18-Mar-13 21:59:44

DD has just started nursery, she is 11 mo. I bfeed her at 6.30am and hand her over to DH, then I leave home at 7am and get to work at 8am. DH drops her at nursery at 845 and he gets to work at 930. I leave work at 4pm and pick DD up at 5pm. I still feel ridiculous guilt that her day in nursery is pretty long when she's so tiny.

We are home by 5.10 for playtime, supper, bath and bed at 6.45pm.

I have no idea how I'll cope when she's at school. I thought it was hard enough now but I'm dreading the guilt and juggling in a few years. I don't have a 'high flying' career but it is reasonable and comfortably paid and simply wouldn't exist as a part time job. We would be financially crippled if I didn't work. What I would for a nice little local job, 4 days a week finishing at 3pm with a lovely salary to boot!

Feeing your pain, OP.

Portofino Mon 18-Mar-13 22:01:57

My routine is Similar to that of Nevergoogle. Though I get up earlier envy

suebfg Mon 18-Mar-13 22:03:06

Yes, I have to get up a 5.30 to get us both out of the door and DS at breakfast club by 7.30!

nevergoogle Mon 18-Mar-13 22:04:04

i should get up earlier. the list i've given doesn't include all the shouting.

noviceoftheday Mon 18-Mar-13 22:06:12

We have a nanny but with young dcs. When both dcs are at school we plan to switch to an au pair.

ijustwant8hours Mon 18-Mar-13 22:07:58

Nanny is the only real answer. I had a career type job, I negotiated part time hours and was on the verge of employing my nanny full time so I could manage to work part time! The people I know who do it have very flexible nannys who will swop days / work evenings etc. flexibility is the key IMO

MichaelaS Mon 18-Mar-13 22:09:01

1) breakfast club and after school nanny
2) au pair
3) second wife!!! Or second husband. Not something I often advocate but these days the cost of childcare would be much easier when bourne by 3 working adults, or 2 working adults and 1 SAHP!

suebfg Mon 18-Mar-13 22:10:18

grin re number 3

livinginwonderland Mon 18-Mar-13 22:11:46

i was in school 8am-6pm in breakfast clubs and after school clubs between the ages of 5-15 or so, then after that i made my way home earlier through lifts from friends/boarders bus at school. i survived. during the holiday i was witha childminder or a stayed with friends occasionally.

nosleeps Mon 18-Mar-13 22:12:04

Ours is similar to happyfrogger, am desperately trying to find help for pickups, as I should really be doing more hours.
It's always a rush and we're always tired, but couldn't afford to live without us both working.

missorinoco Mon 18-Mar-13 22:21:24

I don't work full time, but have wrap around child care on the days I work. I have an excellent childminder, and my pre schoolers are in nursery still, but it's a headache. If I could afford it I would have a nanny.

I think that not so much for the pre/after school care, which is part of the equation, but more for the sick child days and the bad weather days when you aren't sure you can get yourself into work, and having to factor the children in is another stress again.

Also envious of Nevergoogle and 7.30. I brought forward my getting up from 6.30 to 6.15 to reduce the shouting, it has sort of worked.

MrsSchadenfreude Mon 18-Mar-13 22:32:37

Au pair or nanny is easier than after school club - with after school club, you need a contingency plan if there is a crash on the motorway or someone has stolen the wiring from the railway again and you are stuck at Watford for hours. We paid our au pair a bit extra for the holidays, and also paid for her flight and visa (and gave her 4 weeks extra paid leave and spending money) to Vancouver to see her sister, whom she hadn't seen for 8 years.

I work 3 days and my DC used the Breakfast Club/ After School Club.

Only drawback I find- it's in the Infants school so if they have an inset day or something like Open Day, Fayres, Bouncy Castle Day then the Club is closed.
Though they let us know the dates a the start of the year, I have to work round these days.

ChestyLeRoux Tue 19-Mar-13 06:37:23

I get up at 6.30 do the whole lot entirely myself and do 2 settings on foot. Do everything in between and both bedtime routines. I also work with one of my children. So got the whole sahm, wohm thing all on my own most days with no help or transport. I get less than £7 an hour for it and Im in a management role.

LisasCat Tue 19-Mar-13 06:48:49

I'm about to go full time as well. At present I use after school club but I'm switching to a childminder. Our ASC finishes at 5.30 and woe betide you if you're 30 seconds late. Whereas the childminder has said we'll contract to 5.30 then if I'm late she'll charge for an extra 15 mins.
And can I quickly derail the thread to say bastard Tories! They finally implement a good policy (20% discount on childcare when both parents work), but it will come into effect the day my youngest starts school. Aaaaaaaargh!

cleofatra Tue 19-Mar-13 06:55:32

To be honest, the higher up the tree I got, the easier child care became.
I can now "call the shots" and also work as a freelance consultant for almost 100 x the hourly rate I was on when employed.

2fedup Tue 19-Mar-13 07:05:48

We use a breakfast club and a childminder. As she lives next to the school, DS gets to go to after school clubs and she will pick him up from there. I'm grateful she does this as it allows DS to join sports training etc ,which he wants to as he is older.
I would recommend you ask around and recommendations as you may be able to find something similar.

scottishmummy Tue 19-Mar-13 07:05:56

If you both work ft you accept this stretches kids day.this isn't necessarily bad
It's worth the effort the gain is financial,career and kids know their routine
You need to lose the sadface guilt and just get on with it

cleofatra Tue 19-Mar-13 07:28:09

You may be surprised by your DC.
I once considered reducing my hours and, therefore, wage in an effort to spend more time with my ds. I decided to tell him, with the idea that he would be thrilled. I said that we would have a little less money to spend so may have fewer holidays and outings etc but that Mum would have loads more time to spend on him, including him being picked up from school.
His reply was "Oh, no,don't do that Mum." I'd rather have the extra pennies to spend".
I tried not to take it personally.

scottishmummy Tue 19-Mar-13 07:35:59

Tbh,majority adults work. kids cope with working parents and associated routine,does no harm
Do dads handwring and fret?probably woman should berate self with guilt
If your arrangements are safe and adequate your kids will be fine

WaxyBean Tue 19-Mar-13 07:48:09

I work 3 days a week.

Up at 5.45 (children normally up around then, but need to actually get up and get ready then)
Leave house at 6.30
At desk by 7.15
Work like buggery until 4 (work through lunch break)
Home by 5pm - children dropped off by childminder
7pm children in bed
8pm all chores done, log on to work remotely and work until 10pm when I go to bed

Thurs and Fri (HB does Weds routine)
Up at 5.45
Leave house with children fully ready at 7.15
Public transport to childminders, drop them off at 7.45
Arrive at work at 8.45
Work like buggery until 6pm
Get home at 7pm
Breastfeed 13m old
8pm chores all done, log on to work remotely until 10pm when I go to bed

All other times - grab whatever dead time I can to check blackberry and reply to emails (e.g. in soft play, while rocking baby to sleep, on public transport - multitasking at its best).r

WaxyBean Tue 19-Mar-13 07:50:16

ETA - children only actually in childcare from 7.45 till 5pm - about as long as I am happy for them to be.

I also work a near full time job (over 30 hours per week) but am actually only contracted to be part time (21 hours with unpaid overtime as business needs dictate).

Bonsoir Tue 19-Mar-13 08:43:38

scottishmummy - does it help you to convince yourself by repeating your mantra over and over again, totally unable to discuss any other POV than your own?

Artichook Tue 19-Mar-13 09:33:33

I have some sympathy with the argument that we need to stop beating ourselves up with guilt over being working mothers. Children are amazingly adaptable and understanding. IMO the key is consistency and predictability in their caring arrangements, that's what they need to feel secure.

We are blessed that we could afford a nanny and I do think that a nanny provides most of the benefits of a SAHM (in our case maybe more as she is more patient than I wld be at home all day and her being there allows me to come home refreshed and excited to see the kids after a day at work).

The benefits of a nanny are: they come to your house before school thus taking all stress out of morning routine, you can concentrate on getting ready and chatting to kids while nanny does packed lunches, hair, school uniform etc; if kids are sick you have trusted childcare already sorted; holidays are covered; while kids are at school/nursery nanny will tidy house, make dinner, run errands, do laundry etc, leaving you to come home to a organised house with few chores left; kids can do clubs and play dates after school just as they would with a SAHM; kids have a consistent bond with one carer and feel secure. I could go on.

As I said earlier it comes with a BIG price tag but if you can afford it and you enjoy your career it is worth it.

Bonsoir Tue 19-Mar-13 10:16:20

Artichook - you are describing a luxury scenario that will never be available to the masses. And, while you may value predictability in a child's caring routine when they are little, other things come to the fore when they are older.

Snoopingforsoup Tue 19-Mar-13 10:16:48

Breakfast club dropped late as possible and after school club where they do their homework and are with their friends.
DH chips in by doing one drop off or collection and when he's away, I work through lunch to ensure I'm on the tube on time. It sometimes means doing work after DC is in bed.
The school is amazing and DC is comfortable with this otherwise I'd probably have looked at child minders/nannies. Times when I'm not working, he asks if he can go to After School Club so I can't see any damage so far!

blondecat Tue 19-Mar-13 10:28:30

Get a wife wink

That's what DH did

Seriously, it is hard and I take my hat off for allow you who do it

DIYapprentice Tue 19-Mar-13 10:38:30

Bonsoir - I don't understand why you are being so critical of those being supportive of women working and using flexible childcare arrangements and making them work! I read an interesting article about Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Faceebook) the other day, where she is promoting her book 'Lean In'. Your comments remind me of exactly what she is upset about - women making things harder for themselves, and for each other.

There is rarely a perfect solution, and something will always have to give, but being a working mother is generally a good thing, and more women should be looking at ways to make working possible, instead of just assuming it will all be too hard and becoming a SAHM without it being an active choice.

DH works full time, I work part-time, 3 days but spread over 4. DH does the morning routine and drop off after 8.15am. I get up, get ready, and go straight to work. I finish early afternoon, and do pick-up.

I've worked in this role for a long time, and they want me to stay so I was able to negotiate changing my hours. we're also fortunate that home, work, and school are all in a radius of a few miles so travel time is not long.

Realistically, I've made major career sacrifices to achieve this, but we wanted to be able to drop off and pick up so we had time for homework, activities, playing etc. It's quite a recent change. When DC1 was in early primary we used after school club etc., but it meant we were constantly stressed by meetings running late etc.

I don't know of any perfect solution. You do the best you can really

FreckledLeopard Tue 19-Mar-13 10:55:16

Au pair. We've had three so far and getting another one in a couple of months. Lifesavers. And works out cheaper than breakfast/after school clubs too.

eeyore2 Tue 19-Mar-13 10:59:38

Look into an au pair / nanny. Speak to some agencies or talk to local mothers with nannies. You may be surprised at how the price compares with other forms of childcare, especially if you have more than one child. Where I live I have also noticed a lot of nannies who work very flexible hours, e.g. only after school and school holidays. These nannies will often prefer a full time job but this just means you need to be prepared for the arrangement not to last for ever.

Sidge Tue 19-Mar-13 11:21:22

I don't have a high powered job and don't work full time, but my job is such that there's little flexibility and no wiggle room in my hours (I'm a practice nursing sister so have my own clinics which are booked days and weeks in advance!)

I'm also a lone parent of 3 with no family nearby so rely on my fantastic flexible childminder for after school and holiday care, and breakfast club for the days I start work early.

Some benefits of working full time are that you're all out of the house all day so less housework to do, and I think you appreciate the quality of time with your children more than the quantity.

wordfactory Tue 19-Mar-13 11:27:52


My firends who have continued in their careers, nearly all have a great one.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 19-Mar-13 11:35:04

Breakfast club and after school childminder who also covers INSET days, holidays etc.

If you go for after school club, how will you cover holidays?

Artichook Tue 19-Mar-13 13:05:26

Bonsior - you accuse me of referring to a "dream scenario" in having a nanny. I agree it is a dream scenario, I acknowledge that we are blessed in my post. However, I don't think my post was out of place as the thread title asks about people returning to high flying careers. I beleive that most women who see themselves as having a "high flying career" could afford a nanny if they want to prioritise childcare above other things. Neither me nor my husband earn really big salaries, we live in London and have a huge mortgage, yet me can afford a nanny because we choose not to have a nice car, flash holidays, great gym membership etc.

Lasvegas Tue 19-Mar-13 13:06:05

I think Nanny is better than afterschool club. Child can hang out in home environment which I think is more relaxing. If you choose the right person Nanny can do a bit of housework, if child is of an age when they don't need 100% supervision. e.g unload dishwasher, put sausages or ready meal in oven so its ready when you come home. Also give child a bath, supervise homework. i have found extending my cleaners hours worked better than a 'proper' nanny. As cleaner had grand kids of similar age to my DD so may not have had NVQ's but qualified by experience.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 19-Mar-13 13:26:17

Las, a lot of after school clubs have a homework area, which may be specifically supervised depending on staffing.

Sue, can your DH put in a flexible working request?

If you get a new job, you can put in such a request after a while.

willyoulistentome Tue 19-Mar-13 13:32:12

DH kids (+liftshare kids) to school 3 mornings per week and starts and finishes late. Two days per week the liftshare friend takes the kids to school. DH waites for her one morning..and starts and finishes late.
I start work at 08:00 every morning - three times a week in the office - twice a week from home. I wait for liftshare to pick up on fridays - while logging on.

I finish work at 14:30 three times a week and 5pm twice a week. DH picks kids up from school once a week on the day he works from home, and waits for me to get back and then carries on working. Grannie picks up once per week.

Phew - I bet that totally outs me! Nobody else can possibly have it so complicated, can they?

rottenscoundrel Tue 19-Mar-13 13:36:38

I am separated from dh now and have a full time ridiculous responsibility/hours job but have a nanny who I could not cope without even though the children are far older (yr 6 upwards).

lljkk Tue 19-Mar-13 14:05:06

Who has CMs who will work before 7:30am & after 6pm!? (well done you).

3 DC are having tantrums about the mere prospect of going to childcare club, sigh. They don't like prospect of CM any better.

bringonyourwreckingball Tue 19-Mar-13 18:51:07

I have a fabulous childminder. For me the advantage of her over after school club is that it's a more personal relationship. The group of kids are almost like a big family,they look out for each other at school and my childminder does little things like signing me up for a late parents evening slot before they all go which make life just that little bit easier. She's generally very understanding about my occasional unavoidable lateness when I get stuck in the office. Also my kids are more likely to tell her if there's been a problem at school eg falling out with friends than they would the after school staff. I do use after school once a week as my childminder doesn't work Fridays and I like to have the access to holiday club. Ultimately though I do have to leave the office more or less on time and have had to curtail my career as a result. If you want real flexibility I think the only option is a nanny. I didn't want to go down that route but my career has massively suffered as a result and I do sometimes regret that although I love the time I get with my girls.

chandellina Tue 19-Mar-13 20:10:17

I'd try to line up a flexible nanny who would reduce the daily rate to reflect the free hours. Or pay full whack for a nanny - housekeeper.

hermioneweasley Tue 19-Mar-13 20:13:05

My partner does all the Childcare - I couldn't do my job without her enabling me to be flexible. A friend of mine where they both have high powered careers and 3 kids has a full time nanny, although the kids are school age. Another friend does it with an au pair and much juggling/guilt.

scottishmummy Tue 19-Mar-13 20:13:30

Its about finding an arrangement that works,and sticking to it
i dont know anything about au pair,how it works or the remuneration
tbh we've done this for so long dont know it any other way.but nursery easier than school

nokidshere Tue 19-Mar-13 20:30:14

I am a childminder who works whatever hours I am needed. My day generally starts at around 7 and ends at 6ish. But I work later if required, sometimes up to 8pm. I do not charge late fees and I feed all the children a home cooked 2 course meal at 5pm. I have some of the children on inset days and during holidays.

You need a good, flexible childminder!

INeedThatForkOff Tue 19-Mar-13 20:33:32

What about younger teenagers? Not that my job is high powered grin but it is demanding, and I think ahead to the difficulties we'll meet when the DCs are in school. I wouldn't want a 13/14yo to be home alone each evening, but I imagine by then that they consider themselves too old for childcare!

nokidshere Tue 19-Mar-13 20:43:06

I have teenagers come to me smile they just like having someone to hang out with and get fed! In the holidays they do their own thing but use my house as a base.

Doshusallie Tue 19-Mar-13 21:31:15

I work full time in a high pressure sales job in a large IT company. I am lucky in that I have a home based contract so I can take my boys to their (2 different schools) in the mornings, attend school plays/assemblies/sports days by juggling my diary. I have an amazing cm that picks them both up, allows them to attend clubs and picks them afterwards, gives them tea. I collect them at 6, and take onto beavers/cubs, or home for homework and reading, depending on they day of the week. Dh will collect and take them to football one night a week.

Because I have some flexibility on where I work I can do some washing during the week, fit in the food shop etc. I have a cleaner and I send my ironing away.

MrsSchadenfreude Tue 19-Mar-13 22:14:56

I have found that it gets harder rather than easier as they get older, as in what do they do in the school holidays/after school? After school has resolved itself; my two have been "commanded" (by the school) to attend homework club two nights a week. DD1 is sports mad, this takes care of at least two more nights, and she is hoping to fit in the school musical somewhere along the way too. DD2 does art after school one evening a week, and comes home normal time on Monday and Friday, which works well.

School holidays take a bit of planning, but they are happy to go, either together or with friends, shopping, to the cinema, swimming, roller blading, out to lunch/dinner, meet me for lunch and then play tennis in the afternoon at my office in the summer. Unfortunately their summer holidays are 10 weeks long, and we usually hit "I'm BORED" about six weeks in. At this point, they go and stay with Granny and Grandad in the UK for a couple of weeks!

lljkk Wed 20-Mar-13 13:06:58

Most of what's said here applies just as much if you are in a low power boring job, juggling childcare & work can be very stressful. And it's even harder to get the flexible childcare on a low income.

lljkk Wed 20-Mar-13 13:10:57

Those of you with CMs who work before 7:30 & after 6pm; where do the CMs live? Is this just a London thing, maybe?

My parents had a nanny-housekeeper for me; she never worked outside of 7:30-6pm, either. My parents stopped work by 5:30pm (plus some on-call duties a few times a year). They would have thought it outrageous to work longer hours.

Makes me feel better when I try to explain to my dad how difficult childcare is in the UK.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 20-Mar-13 13:19:26

Agree lljkk - 8-6 is standard round here for CM, though mine has done the occasional extension till 7pm. She has her own (young) kids to feed, bathe etc so wouldn't ask her except as a one off.

BiddyPop Wed 20-Mar-13 13:55:10

I've only read the first few posts, but we were managing with fulltime creche (near both our offices) when DD was preschooler (so she commuted with us and we alternated doing drop off and collection, mainly DH dropping and me collecting but changing if 1 needed to stay late/arrive early on occasion). It meant we both had a chance to do extra hours if need be and we both brought work home on occasion too (and were lucky to be able to juggle diaries on most occasions she was ill, although there have been occasions where DD came into city centre bundled up in jammies, swopped car (or finisher hopped in while starter was on public transport later) and came home again for afternoon with other parent if time between meetings was short).

When she started school, DH continued to drop (getting in a bit later but staying later in evenings) and I generally manage to get back to the afterschool club in creche near home on time. I have numbers of all neighbours, few relatives nearby, and a few of DD's classmates' Mums too now in case of dire emergency - which we've used once in 3 years.

Both of us have had to do meetings overseas on occasion in the past, both pre and post DD. Generally it's 1 or the other travelling at a time (we seem to have opposite cycles, TG). DH is just as good with DD as me so either being away overnight or for a couple of nights is ok.

When DH started travelling 2 years ago for longer trips (1st was 4 weeks, most are 2-3 weeks since, with the same at home) we got an au pair to do mornings. This has evolved a little so the AP now does school drops but also collects from creche twice a week and from school twice a week (to allow afterschool activities in school, which we couldn't otherwise). I still collect from creche once a week.

What is ULTRA important though is that we keep each other informed of events and needs, and the diary on the kitchen counter is kept full with things that impact on household life (like DH going to a lecture tonight, or me needing to stay late for meetings next Monday, or dentist appointments that one of us needs to cover). And our electronic diaries also need to be kept up to date, but the kitchen one is the bible checked every night for tomorrow. As soon as notes come home, from whatever source, and for whoever, they get written in.

And being organised enough to have emergency dinners in the freezer, jars of sauce to make a fast dinner, know the nights you will need to get a takeaway (and refuse to feel guilty about it). So DD has swimming class late on Wednesdays, so she has an M&S kiddie meal or a HM meal from freezer as soon as she gets in (I try to have one that is oven-heated, so I can set it up to be ready when we walk in, otherwise microwaved type), we eat something simple to prepare either prepped as she eats and gobbled as she finishes, or once she's in bed. But on Mondays, I will have a good HM meal that I've made on Sun afternoon while doing roast dinner to just reheat the sauce and cook pasta/rice or potatoes as needed (turn on pots dinner), with a second half of that sauce frozen for another Wed or similar night. While we generally have a fairly healthy diet, we also use convenience things and know plenty of short cuts for the times they're needed.

Household must be organised, and also have my points that are important and others not (so I wash lots and throw the dry things into a basket during the week - so they are clean if needed urgently - but I only fold and iron at the weekend). And once we can find things, and are generally neat and tidy, with important areas kept clean always (kitchen surfaces, bathrooms etc), I don't worry too much about a bit of mess and dirt.

Holidays are a combination of creche, other camps at school and elsewhere (sports centre, sailing school etc), and DH and I taking our leave to suit school holidays. Not cheap, but DD seems generally happy and we've both been able to continue with our careers so far.

The one trip I had while DH was away, PIL came to stay for 3 nights (I was away 2 and v late home the 3rd) as it would have been too much responsiblity on AP. They were delighted (they live 160 miles away, as do my parents) - but it is a rarity that we call on them like that.

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