AIBU...to still be seriously considering going back to work FT in an actual office and getting a nanny?

(93 Posts)
IHideVegInRice Sun 05-May-13 22:47:02

For 3ish days a week (more if I can) I try to work from home, so that I can spend time with my small children and DMiL who is wonderful with them. Great. Except, it doesn't work.

I was on a conference call last week discussing a horribly tricky technical issue which needed my full attention, and I had DMiL popping in every few minutes throughout the 2 hour callto ask if I wanted tea, biscuits, coffee, milk, sugar, to look at DS' drawing, for DD to show me her new toy which I bought so have obviously seen before, if I wanted egg or tuna sandwiches, if it was ok for the kids to touch my 6foot + harp - NO! She doesn't seem to have grasped that if my office door is closed I really need some peace, even though I've explained a million times and I normally have it open and don't mind a bit of chatting and helping her out with washing up etc etc.

She means well but it's an absolute nightmare and I'm working until 3am most nights to cover off the stuff I can't get done with her flapping during the day so I'm now really tired and really stressed and working all over the bank holiday weekend and generally feeling like having a rant. DH is working more than ever also so I feel responsible for being around in the week, but we have broadly the same job so it's tough.

I'm seriously thinking about getting a nanny and going back to working in the office as it would mean a clear distinction between work and home, spending time with my family or at work without this horrible blend of the two, but it's a commute and I'd be looking at 10 hours at least in the office. I'm not sure it is the best thing for DCs though: DMiL is absolutely fantastic with the twins and a good, wise role model for them. She's energetic, takes them to the park etc and we really enjoy our lunchtime strolls together which I think is real quality time during the week. DM would be horrified and I'd never hear the end of it and I'd probably cause a massive rift in my family for being some evil career woman and not caring about family etc etc etc and I suspect DMiL will be privately angry but more than anything very hurt which I really want to avoid.

I have no idea how to handle this situation but something needs to change here because my head is going to implode. I couldn't reasonably expect DMiL to have the children full time, and when I do make an appearance at the offce DH finishes to collect them and then works in the evening. He completely understands the situation, and knows why I'm stressed and the pressures I have at work but at the same time we have this massive issue with our mothers meaning we are effectively keeping them happy but having a shite time ourselves. A friend helpfully suggested we move house...!

IHideVegInRice Sun 05-May-13 22:54:20

that should read "DH finishes early"...

NoSquirrels Sun 05-May-13 22:56:21

Make the rules! You need to impose 'office hours' i.e. between 9 and 11 am door is shut and you are working undisturbed. 11-11.30 tea break, admiration of artwork, helping with washing tea cup or what shall we have for lunch discussion. 11.30-1pm door is shut. etc

Sign them all up for as many courses like Tumble Tots or whatever as is realistic, and then you can make sure they're out of the house.

If you think she'll take it as an implied criticism, tell a white lie and explain to your DMIL that work have been piling on the pressure and asking for more form you, that they have hinted you'll need to be in the office more if productivity doesn't increase. Make them the bad guys.

ivanapoo Sun 05-May-13 22:59:02

Put a lock on your office door and a sign saying "no knocking please" and use it during important calls/times.

Bereavednanny Sun 05-May-13 22:59:19

Is there nowhere you could relocate the office to? An out building? Garage? Loft? Somewhere it is more difficult to 'pop in' to.

I'm a nanny and I know that if my boss is working from home, we do not interrupt her, unless in an emergency. But bosses home offices are away from the children's areas.

One boss worked in a garden shed that they had insulated, electricity and water supplies bought in, so she could have tea/coffee, Internet, phone line, fridge and radio. Dad boss used to retreat there at weekends and had tv and sky put in!

Failing that, tell her, if she cannot let you work, you are going to have to work out of the home 12 hours a day, with the commute and it's likely you'd have to go to 5 days and employ full time childcare, not something you want but those are the options.

ivanapoo Sun 05-May-13 23:00:57

And you do sound a tad ungrateful in your post! Assuming your MIL is not being paid...

AcrylicPlexiglass Sun 05-May-13 23:03:35

Have you sat down with your mil over tea/wine and said that you are feeling this bad? It sounds like she just doesn't understand that you are at work and must not be disturbed unless it's an emergency.

Can you get a lock for your office door?

Kiwiinkits Sun 05-May-13 23:18:14

Consider this arrangement:
* you work in the office 3 or 4 days per week, with a nanny
* you work at home 1 day per week, with MIL at home
* on the four days you work, either you of DH go to work early in the morning, and the other does hand over to nanny. Both of you are home no later than 6.15pm to see kids, read to them, put them to bed.

Thats how it works in our professional working family, more or less. We love our nanny (LOVE her!) and she is adored by our kids.

Working from home is a nightmare; doesn't work for me. I'm an economist so need space and quiet.

Kiwiinkits Sun 05-May-13 23:19:27

Having a nanny is oodles more convenient than childcare. No one has to get kids out the door before 7.30am or pick them up before 5.30. THAT in itself has potential to drive you nuts, IMO.

BackforGood Sun 05-May-13 23:28:40

Agree with NoSquirrels - explain to MiL that work are saying that unless you are more productive, and in a space where you won't be interrupted on important calls, then you will no longer be able to work at home, and that's going to mean the 10 hours away from the house each day, and some other form of childcare. Pretend you are on a 'warning' or something, and that you will all have to stick firmly to the rules from now on.

... of course her response to that will depend a bit on how exhausting, or how much she loves looking after the dc.

ShellyBoobs Sun 05-May-13 23:33:05

I'd definitely go for a nanny and an office away from home.

It's pretty much what OH and I, although our DD is now in her teens and the nanny we've had all the way through her younger years provides some 'care' on an ad-hoc basis if we're both away on business or working long hours (often).

I work from home the odd day but I too find it hard to separate work and home life with all the interruptions that come from having people in the house when I'm working. It would drive me utterly insane having young DCs around while someone cares for them in a non-professional capacity.

This bit confuses me a little though, "I couldn't reasonably expect DMiL to have the children full time".

Pressumably she already has the DCs full time while you're working?

IHideVegInRice Mon 06-May-13 01:40:34

Thanks everyone - I don't mean to sound ungrateful I'm just exhausted with the whole thing and anxious not to upset anyone, but at the same time feeling that we've had this situation forced on us. While it's fab that DMiL is so keen to help out she doesn't understand why I'm working and makes me feel guilty if I'm not able to read a story/fingerpaint/look at the cookies etc at every whim. So I end up feeling terrible and that I'm doing the wrong thing and dropping everything I can anyway and then working all night to catch up with the non-urgent stuff that comes in dribs and drabs.
FWIW work really don't care about when I get stuff done as long as it is done, and I manage my own workload/time allocation/teams (with massive help from my secretary) and they sure as hell do not care if my child is sick/had a tantrum/wanted to show me a picture of a green blob named Alan. Most of my female colleagues have nannies or are single/childless and it's massively male dominated...but that's a whole other thread!

It's hard to explain, but I feel like I have a guest to entertain and two children to look after and a job to do, because although she is brilliant at getting them to play and have a great time the practical stuff falls to me apart from lunch/snacks. So by my 'having the children full time' comment I meant all day for 5 days per week with no help from me because I'd be out of the house, whereas I currently get stuck in with eg. the battle to put coats on or teeth time etc.

I'm thinking that we could potentially employ a nanny as well as having DMiL and play it along the lines of we thought it would allow you to focus on having quality time without any chores etc, while in reality the nanny would be running the show and giving us the help we actually need. I'm not sure if a nanny would agree to this, but I suppose being open about the situation at present and how we need it to change might help. HTH

wombatcheese Mon 06-May-13 02:41:29

It sounds as if MIL has v different expectations from what you need. If you generally have door open and appear happy to be interrupted she may have the impression that your work is not that important and you like seeing the kids in work time. I agree with above poster about clear 'do not interrupt' hours. Maybe consider a nanny for a couple of days/ half days if you feel childcare and organisation is too much for MIL. Seems a shame to not be able to work from home if possible.

maddening Mon 06-May-13 06:24:39

Can you hire a small office near your home so you can return at lunch time and be home v quickly and still have mil with the dc? Might be cheaper than a nanny + travel.

Mutley77 Mon 06-May-13 07:20:03

I would certainly go out to work if I were you - your work life balance is not working.

Any childcare would be less stressful than that! Your MIL could continue to have her time with the children (each of them a half day or day per week - she can pick them up and return them to home) but you can have someone else responsible for their care while you get your work done, leaving you free to enjoy your downtime once you get back from work.

Nehru Mon 06-May-13 07:21:22

Stop exploiting your family as cheap childcare.

Wuldric Mon 06-May-13 07:31:02

I don't know how you manage working from home. It's the noise issue more than anything else. Whenever I worked from home, every time I had a conference call, the children would chose that precise moment to erupt in wails. It was incredibly stressful, far more stressful than the commute. Your preferred solution of a nanny isn't really a solution because it sounds as though you are making the problem worse and not better (ie more people to interrupt you and more people with more time to interrupt you).

Could you have a garden office - somewhere separate from the house? Or rent one of those cheap office space units close to you?

Dozer Mon 06-May-13 07:41:45

Most people can't afford a nanny! If you can then it sounds like it'd be a good option.

I struggle with work/life balance too, but am struggling to be sympathetic here, mainly because I assume MiL is providing a lot of free childcare and the way you seem quite passive in your posts. if you both work, you (together) need to organise childcare that allows you both to do that. MIL clearly isn't on board with providing the care you need to work effectively, and possibly judgmental too: if it's not working, then you need to speak to her about changing things, or organise something else.

Paid childcare of some kind would give you more control, and there's no reason why the DC couldn't still spend lots of time with their family, although think time with MiL AND a nanny should be fairly limited, or it'll be hard to find a nanny!

As for worrying about what your parents think, and feeling "forced" into situations not of your choosing, you need to get over that! It's your DC and life.

CecilyP Mon 06-May-13 08:00:34

I don't think you sound ungrateful. It sounds like a situation that you have got yourselves into, that seemed like a good idea at the time, but really isn't working but you are worried about upsetting DMiL if you try to change it.

I agree that having an office space separate from the house, either a shed or a rented office space locally. I assume you don't all live together, so would it be possible to take DCs to your MiLs house so you can go back home and work. The ideal solution might be to hire a professional nanny while you work from home - someone really does understand that you do your job while she does the childcare. You are trying to keep everyone happy but having a nanny and your MiL at the same time will not work - the nanny will care for your DCs but you will now have a guest with very little to keep herself entertained.

You can't go on as you are. You say that work don't mind what you do as long as the work gets done, but the only way you are achieving this is by working all hours once your DCs are in bed. If you stopped doing that, the whole thing would fall apart.

NoSquirrels Mon 06-May-13 08:08:29

Just wondering how you got into this situation in the first place? I mean, returning to full time work without a formal childcare plan for 2 small children is . . . erm, unusual. Did DMIL offer to 'help' or has it evolved, somehow?

You really don't need to feel bad about imposing 'working hours'. If she is there to look after the kids while you work then that's what needs to happen. Instead of a nanny you could think about a 'mother's help' who could take over and be a companion, but truly, in your situation I would be doing as I advised above and telling her things have to change.

Your work doesn't need to be applying pressure to you, you just tell DMIL that.

You don't need to make it all or nothing, you know. DMIL could have them one day a week full-time, and a nanny for the other 2 or 3 days.

Whatever, you need to change it. Would your DH have a word if you feel unable to? Along the lines of 'very worried about IHideVeg, DM, because she's having to work late into the night. Do you think you could make sure she gets to be undisturbed for x hours a day.'

theoriginalandbestrookie Mon 06-May-13 08:56:27

I think that's a good solution from Nosquirrels, it might work much better if your DH approached her as at the minute you are trying to be all things to all people.

Or getting the garage converted or hiring office space good too. You'd probably find that you only need office space for a couple of days a week as you will be amazed how much you can get through with no distractions and that also means the inevitable distractions you would face if you worked from your actual place of work.

Nehru I can't quite see where the OP is exploiting anyone. She actually wants to use paid childcare but wants to make sure that she doesn't upset her DMIL in the process, it's hardly exploitation if DMIL is happy to do it.

FarBetterNow Mon 06-May-13 09:05:00

You don't sound ungrateful at all, but I'm going to very unhelpfully say that it is very difficult to have it all.
As a grandmother I would really struggle to look after young twins on my own for a long day.
As others have said, how about renting a local office and having a Nanny and DMIL just doing one day and meeting up with you at lunchtime?

BackforGood Mon 06-May-13 11:15:10

Or, if you want the shorter day without the commute, then what about employing a CM or local Nursery for some of the week - 4 days maybe, or 'school hours' , or long mornings, and just having 1 day / a couple of hours each day / however it works out best, when DMiL is looking after them at home. She still feels very involved, but you get {say} 25 hours out of each working week completely on your own -which, IME is FAR more productive than being in the office - and you can fit the other 15 hours in more flexibly as you are doing now. You get to see your dc each day, MiL still involved, but your work is getting at least some of your working hours as quality, focused time.

Startail Mon 06-May-13 11:22:42

DF worked from home, but had a nanny who knew not to disturb her.

Can you put a shed in the garden or simply work in your bedroom and put up a stair gate labeled

Working, is coming through here really necessary.

DH's study is in the extension, I mentally say those words before annoying him.

Startail Mon 06-May-13 11:24:36

Petrol is such a large part of our budget for the days DH does go to the office, I would try to avoid doing it every day.

ivanapoo Tue 07-May-13 09:53:17

I think nanny plus mil at her leisure is the ideal solution actually. Looking after two little ones all day is a lot to ask of your mil, and the nanny would give her some adult company as well as freedom.

Mumsyblouse Tue 07-May-13 10:03:35

I don't think you are remotely ungrateful, but it's clear MIL isn't coping on her own/ My mum does, if I am working from home and she picks up the children from school, or cares for them the day (when younger), she did not disturb me ever (except perhaps to say I'm popping out) and she did not allow the children to disturb me, just as I don't allow this when my husband is working and I am doing childcare.

But, for whatever reason, your MIL either can't or won't have sole care and wants to basically care for the children with you there too, so that's not possible. You are not being ungrateful as I suspect, given money is not a massive issue, you don't actually want her to be the proper childcarer and would rather just hire a nanny. If that is the case just go ahead and do it, but say she can come round 1 or 2 times a week.

Also- put a notice up on the room 'do not disturb' and explain to her what that means.

Finally, you are going to have to get over your desire to please the MIL. You are too afraid to hire a nanny and to run your life the way that is best for you in case they think you are a nasty career woman? Tough, you are a career woman and it is none of their business. You can't work and care for children at the same time, I would set up office hours at home or in a nearby office. But don't be up til 3am doing work because MIl keeps interrupting you with pictures the kids have drawn- this will not be good for the children in the long run. Stand up for yourself, they don't have to like it but they do have to go along with it if they want to be part of your family.

tigerlilygrr Tue 07-May-13 10:10:32

Office space is surprisingly cheap, even in (gasp) London. My friend rented an office in hackney, which was big enough for five people, for about £300 a month ( if that doesn't seem cheap, compare and contrast cost of childcare or residential accommodation). Also if you look around a lot of people will just rent you a desk in an existing office which would be significantly cheaper. I think that's a brilliant idea.

Failing that, OP, I suspect you've made a rod for your own back by allowing MIL to show you DS' latest masterpiece when you're 'not busy'. I think it's unrealistic to expect her to be able to discriminate (especially as many people think home working = dossing anyway). I would say 9-12 and 1-4 or whatever - mummy is not be disturbed unless it's a medical emergency. Otherwise you will never achieve the flow you need to go your job well!

Mnetter111 Tue 07-May-13 10:21:20

Hmmmm I think you should be very careful before offending your nice MIL, because a nanny doesn't love your children as much, especially important for the smaller ones. My dd doesn't have any close family involvement apart from us and while nannies are better at respecting boundaries, I feel you haven't tackled your mil about it properly, she doesn't seem unreasonable. I think you ought to be able to agree a solution where you work in an office some of the time, you get a nanny part time and mil some of the time with whatever support she needs.

IHideVegInRice Tue 07-May-13 22:02:13

Thank you all, so much. It's so reassuring to hear that I'm not the only person who finds this challenging. On the face of it, this a childcare issue, but digging a bit deeper this is about my uncertainty/guilt over being a working mother and the only reason I am at home is because I didn't want to not see my children all day, or not have time for them because of work. This is not really working though because I'm walking round in a haze of self induced exhaustion and worry so something has to change, pronto.

NoSquirrels - you asked how we got in this situation and I had to laugh because I actually don't know myself. To précis (or not...), getting pregnant was an absolute 'mare and took a lot longer than planned - by which point, both of our careers had advanced significantly. On a purely selfish level I didn't want to give up my career because I'd spent such a long time throwing myself into it, and if I also work we can give our DCs more opportunities etc than we could on one salary. So the plan was originally that I would go back to work for 2 days per week, one in the office when DMiL would have the twins and one where I'd be more flexible at home and could help out.

DMiL was absolutely desperate to help out and DH & I made the decision based on her fab nature with the children, putting less emphasis on the practical stuff. I continue to feel bad because they are a handful - not naughty, but there are two small people with very different ideas and that would be hard work for anyone.

Anyway, part time is an alien concept in my particular area and it was a disaster. So I then had the bloody stupid idea of working 9-12 every day from home to allow me to touch base with everyone and keep things under control. This doesn't work for a whole host of reasons, but particularly I think because the sector is so fast moving that the picture could be very different at 7pm than it was at 9am and there are a large number of people asking for/acting on my advice (which seems a bad idea given I can't even tell my MiL I need to get a nanny..!).

I was overly optimistic about my flexibility and what is expected of me but ultimately I made the choice to do this and need to make it work - I'm not having a pity party I just needed somewhere (hopefully) confidential to vent and figure things out. DH is 100% supportive of this choice and would be happy with a nanny too so I'll see if we can arrange something with DMiL's agreement - she can see I'm struggling because she is constantly trying to feed me!

NoSquirrels Tue 07-May-13 22:21:08

Oh IHideVeg, I do sympathise. I work from home, I have part-time childcare around small preschoolers and I end up working into the night. But I don't have people dependent on me to be in touch every day etc, I work on a project basis and as long as it gets done i can, within reason, set my own hours and am my own boss.

It's exhausting. On weeks where I have too much work not enough childcare I would kill for a MIL nearer and the possibility of a nanny.

So go for it. I bet you will feel all the better for doing it, and DMIL will be fine about it. If in fact she originally signed up for 1 day a week, then going back to 1 day a week should be no problem, and you might find she's relieved to be granny not nanny. Could she do that one day at her house? Then get a nanny in for 3 days a week, and take Fridays (or whatever) off for yourself to spend really good quality time with the kids and have fun with them. That should alleviate some of your guilt.

And truly, don't feel guilty. Careers are hard to resurrect. You should not feel guilty for holding on to yours. There's all sorts of benefits to the whole family of you keeping working, and your DC sound like they are surrounded by love so won't suffer in the slightest. Your job sounds wonderfully flexible, so work smart not hard and you will be laughing.

Good luck!

Fuckwittery Tue 07-May-13 22:28:35

i have to say, i don't understand why you let your mil interrupt you when you need quiet time. cant you just say, I'm a conference call, i cant be interrupted or ill probably get sacked, ha ha, ill shut the door now and let you know when I'm finished. if shes offered to care for the children while you work thats not happening at all,its more of a hindrance, and you need to change the way your mil helps you or change your childcare but its up to you to do this, your mil is not a mindreader.

sorry for lack of punctuation bloody ipad typing

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 03:19:44

It's not so much that I let her interrupt than she waltzes in beaming with the latest picture etc. It's sweet really, which is why I haven't told her to sod off, but it's seriously hampering my productivity. In the beginning I was finding my feet again post babies, but things have become more demanding with imminent deadlines and a bigger client portfolio. The children also want to tell or show me stuff and I'd hate to be shouty and pushing them away - there's a saying along the lines of if you don't listen to the little things when they are little, they won't tell you the big things when they are big (but way more eloquently) and I try to go by that. Trouble is, I'm more interested in who found a ladybird or made the biggest tower than my job grin and the sharp, assertive, pushy business me doesn't belong at home. Certainly if DH started speaking to me as if we were in a boardroom I'd want to throw something at him and/or get divorced!

MariefromStMoritz Wed 08-May-13 03:41:42

'Working from home' when you have small children is such a nonsense, it just is not possible.

However, the other option isn't that great, either. I work full-time in an office and have full-time childcare. My DD is 6 months old and I probably spend less than 1 hour a day with her, I don't even think she knows who I am sad.

Can't you arrange for the kids to go to nursery one day a week, then blitz your workload then?

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 04:15:46

NoSquirrels - thanks for your post. It seems like one of those situations that silently grows and grows until it becomes unbearable but actually has a really simple solution. I do feel guilty on one hand, mainly because I worry I'm not there for/engaged with DC enough and that it is wrong to put my desires of having a swanky job above being a good mum. On the other hand though, I'm not sure that being a SAHM is in itself the definition of a good mum and that a working mum can be a good role model particularly for DD? And of course the financial side is fairly important too! My mother strongly disapproves of me working, as she feels a mothers' place is in childbearing/rearing/homemaking only which adds to my unease.

Would you mind sharing a bit more detail about your childcare arrangements NS? It's now gone 4am and I'm still working my way through emails/voicemails/ MN when it all gets a bit much. I am used to working very long hours, and I don't have a problem with it if I'm getting somewhere but I do have a problem with faffing in the day and then not going to bed because of it. I'm not exhausted because I've been working hard or running after kids all day - I'm exhausted because I'm being pulled in all directions and I want to do everything well, which just makes me really stressed. DH is forever telling me not to internalise all my stress, but I'm v guilty of this and I've got too thin again as a result.The "trying to be all things to all people" quote above sums it up really well, though DH and I are not spending much time together except from weekends. I'm going to have a good chat with DH tomorrow and try to make a decision or plan because this is beyond ridiculous!

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 04:25:49

Nursery. Of course. That gives the perfect excuse of "oh we'd like DD & DS to get to play with other children and will get them ready for pre-school". I have no idea why this never occurred to me but thanks!

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 04:26:43

Not that they don't play with other children...but in a non-playdate/softplay/park/organised hour long thing kind of way

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 04:48:46

I'm actually beginning to wonder if it's worth going to bed tonight...it's TEN TO FIVE IN THE MORNING HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!?!?!?!

GiraffesAndButterflies Wed 08-May-13 04:49:15

Reading with interest as this could be me one day... am still on ML so my advice has the health warning that I've not been in this situation yet smile

Sounds like there are two possible options:
One, that you're working because of the previous time investment than because you really want to be working. The equivalent of throwing good money after bad perhaps. Do you want to be working for other reasons, or is it just that you feel obliged because you were working hard while ttc? The latter not a good enough reason imo.
Two, if work is what you want (and it's what I want so I don't mean that to sound judgey), ask yourself how you would deal with this situation in an employee. You sound pretty capable and I'm assuming you're good at your job grin, can you detach a bit and use that to help you implement some of the suggestions up thread?

Wuldric Wed 08-May-13 05:33:54

I'm glad the nursery solution sounds appealing.

You do need to sort your workload out though, because it sounds as though this is about more than daytime interruptions. Because even if I had been interrupted twenty times through the day (and I frequently am, and work is even worse than the kids for this) I can catch up with a couple of hours blitzing. You've just done an all-nighter. So I am wondering whether or not you have taken on too much work at work.

deXavia Wed 08-May-13 05:45:49

I feel your pain - I have a great job that gives me the flexibility to work at home or the office. I love working in the office to meet with colleagues, bit of adult time and a chance to be 100% removed from the childcare. But equally love to work from home away from the annoying colleagues and sneaking some cuddles. I've been doing it for years now so the only thing I can say is it get ssignificantly easier once they go to school (or nursery) - you are then guaranteed a certain numbers of hours of peace.
But for when you are at home, especiallyin the early years. I found I had to start off very strict - 9am I was in the "office" door closed (locked if possible) and only if the house was on fire could I be disturbed. I then took breaks ie at lunchtime but then back to work. The structure helped me and to be honest the kids (without being all Gind Ford on you grin). Took about 4 to 6 months of being really anal about it before everyone knew the score and now even when the kids come home from school - if the door is shut they'll wait. And to be honest if I'm not on the phone I can leave the door open these days and the kids wander in and out which was what I actually wanted in the long run.
Anyway long post - guess I just wanted to give you hope!
I would pack the kids to nursery a couple of mornings a week -- as you say to socialise now they are older. And then tell your MIL you trust her so much that the door will be closed and she's in charge (and if she even looks slightly aghast at this use it as a chance to change your childcare!!!!) Give it a few months of being really rigid about the time at home and hopefully it will be better balanced.

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 05:45:57

Hello fellow 5am-er!
I'm working for a combination of both I think. What I really wanted (and secretly wish I was blush ) was to be a professional musician, so this kind of career came as a bit of a surprise...I ended up doing a totally different degree and fell into it all but found myself really enjoying the work etc etc and I'm still in the same area now. Part of the reason is because I literally sold my soul to the firm I worked for in my twenties, but it worked and I became fairly senior fairly quickly. It was never a trade-off between kids and work, but it took years of trying from once we were ready and in that time I also got promoted. (I'm trying not to sound like an arsehole here, sorry!) I really enjoyed it - it was challenging but also interesting and great people and all the other cliches. The job can just about be done from home with the exception of client meetings, and while at times I do miss the whole office 'thing', it is really nice to be at home and I still pop in every week. So it isn't just about the time investment, but also about the actual work (not position!) now. I don't really have a firm plan from here though so i need to work on what I'd like to be doing in eg 5 years time and work back from there and see if this matches and whether it is worth it to reach that destination.
As for this situation in an employee, I would want to know and I'd want to support them by being flexible and making sure they didn't take on too much. So if they realistically had 4 days in which to work I'd be really conscious that they would need to have max. 80% of the normal workload by cutting down on volume rather than sacrificing quality/complexity. I'd also be looking at their eyebags etc to try and suss out how they were really coping and not just taking the stock answer of fine for granted.

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 05:50:31

Wuldric...you're so right. Between G&B's post and my reply I threw up. Not good.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Wed 08-May-13 05:57:57

Given you're already working a 50 hour week, it makes sense for you to make the working from home thing work but a ten hour day in the office can easily translate to 15 hours at home if you're not being productive, and you're not going to be productive working in the middle of the night, and with constant interruptions during the day.

It sounds slightly like you are giving mixed messages- i.e. being happy to work with the door open most of the time, half listening to what the kids are doing and "a bit of chatting", but then wanting privacy at other times. I think you need to basically hide away and say that you'll come and have lunch with them but that's it. That is likely to mean that MIL can no longer deal with them full time as she cant do the practical stuff, which probably points towards a nanny, with MIL there in a grandparent capacity (which would probably be nicer for her) or nursery (would MIL do half days?)

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Wed 08-May-13 06:01:16

FWIW I can work from home but never do for exactly the reasons you mention. If I'm in the hosue, the DC (2.7 and 9mo) wonder why they cant talk to me, and I keep coming out to intervene in tantrums etc. If I'm not there, they're much more settled and I dont know about said tantrum so it doesnt bother me. However, I only live a 10 min cab drive from my office.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 08-May-13 06:17:20

This isn't working and you need to change it. Pick something and try it. If it doesn't work try something else.

Anything is better than the current set up, honestly.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 08-May-13 06:55:31

Can't your MIL look after the children at her house while you work productively at yours?

ohforfoxsake Wed 08-May-13 07:02:05

Put a 'do not disturb' sign on your door.

FarBetterNow Wed 08-May-13 07:34:44

How about NOT working through the night, but get to bed early and get up at 4.00am or even 3.30am.
You will get twice as much work done in half the time, as you won't be exhausted.

BeeBawBabbity Wed 08-May-13 08:05:46

I work from home 3 days out of 5 and when it works it's perfect. No travel/petrol/faffing about with hair and make-up. It's peaceful, productive and I see more of of my kids and often get a nice dinner going in the slow cooker etc. But my kids are at school. I could never work with young kids in the house. Even at 8 and 10 I pack them off somewhere in the school holidays.

Can MIL have them at her house some days (my mum does this for me in holidays)? I don't think you're taking advantage of your MIL either by the way, my mum was so upset when I looked at nurseries as she desperately wanted to care for my kids when they were little. Lucky, I know. Perhaps your MIL doesn't really understand the nature of your job? I also have to concentrate for long periods and couldn't be disturbed.

What I'm trying to say is the next few years will fly by and then they'll be at school and the whole wfh thing will really begin to show benefits. Don't feel guilty about working, it sounds lime a really rewarding hard won career that you'd regret losing in 5-10 years when the little ones aren't so little.

sallycinnamum Wed 08-May-13 08:31:24

I work from home in an office we had built in our garden and I have a lovely lady who looks after my DC four mornings a week.

She has very strict instructions not to disturb me and so far it's worked perfectly.

I have the afternoons with the DC and will be able to take and pick up my DS when he starts school in sept.

The money I save from not commuting and lunches etc is nearly £300 a month.

Definitely look at getting childcare if some kind alrhough I'd kill to not have to pay nearly all my salary to the nanny!!

2rebecca Wed 08-May-13 08:56:02

Why would you only get a nanny if you worked away from home? I would discuss with your husband and MIL the fact that you working from home isn't working due to the interruptions and that you're looking at options including getting a nanny or having the kids in nursery some of the time.
Initially I'd try talking firmly to your MIL saying you know she means well but when you are in your office can she please pretend you aren't there unless it's an emergency as it is making working from home too difficult. Ask her if the childcare is too much for her and she'd rather come less often. If she promises not to disturb you then keeps doing it you could look at staying in the house but getting a nanny. Mine went to childminders(part time) and they enjoyed going as they had other kids to socialise with. Alternatively could your MIL not have the kids in her own house?

Mnetter111 Wed 08-May-13 09:05:58

One of the hardest things for both me and my friend (both worked in it consulting) is that we just couldn't put the hours in as before without compromising our sanity/quality of life. We have both had to accept more junior roles, and accept that finishing at a reasonsable hour/not putting in the constant overtime has consequences...it does hurt and people don't understand but we went through a lot to have dd...

GiraffesAndButterflies Wed 08-May-13 09:08:42

It sounds like a great job and you don't sound like an arsehole smile

Wrt treating this like a work situation, I meant that more for dealing with MIL. You need to get across to her that she is not doing her 'job' effectively, in a firm but friendly manner that keeps her 'on board'. And if that doesn't/hasn't worked then think about how you would escalate. Don't get tempted to do some aspects of her job yourself (eg picture admiring smile), even if you like doing them. Give MIL as much structure and trust as she needs so that she can make decisions herself and not need to come to you. And for those where you want input (lunch, harp), tell her what you need in advance (eg tell her you'll discuss lunch plans in your coffee break or you're happy with anything except egg mayo, and the DTs are allowed anywhere in the house except x, etc).
It sounds a bit cold maybe when I write it out like that, but I thought it might help to view with a work rather than home perspective.

Mnetter111 Wed 08-May-13 09:10:21

Ps I also work from home, and I work til 11/1130 but take out 330-7 to be with dd. I guess I'm saying I think it's a very hard road re your workload and DH doing a tough job too even with a nanny and MIL.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Wed 08-May-13 09:16:19

I don't think you should go back to work in an office and be pushed out of your own home because your MIL can't/won't understand that you can't be disturbed sometimes.

I think you need a very firm conversation with her about how grateful you are for the help etc but that you do need to set times when you will and won't be available and can't be disturbed.

Then you need very clear boundaries; put a Do Not Disturb or These Are My Office Hours sign on the door and only emerge from your office for lunch/breaks/seeing her and the DCs when you've said you will.

And lock the office door until she gets it!

2rebecca Wed 08-May-13 10:06:16

Is there a good reason why MIL can't have the kids in her own house? Even if they were just there mornings or some days it would get them out of your hair and I'd have thought she'd prefer it as well as most people prefer being in their own homes and she'd feel less like an unpaid nanny and more like a granny helping out.

Fakebook Wed 08-May-13 10:11:35

Sorry I only got as far as the mention of your harp. grin

Get a nanny.

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 11:36:26

Fakebook, I have a harp in my house because, as I've said elsewhere, I very nearly went into music instead and I still play for the odd wedding etc, as I play at professional level. Anyway, back to the actual point of this conversation: DMiL doesn't want to have the children at her house, is the bottom line. She is exceedingly houseproud and I actually think letting DTs loose in there might finish her off. Her house is also a bit of a trek from the park and local toddler groups they go to, and as we have their playroom and garden play...contraption at ours it makes sense to have them here. I need to move my office though - for some unfathomable reason I'm right downstairs next to the kitchen and playroom, which isn't helping - I'm going to have a subtle clear out, and move upstairs next to the dining room citing internet and phone line problems in the basement. That way it'll be extra effort to come and speak to me grin 2rebecca - I'm considering getting a nanny full stop! It would save a lot of angst - nursery would be fine but we'd still need some care after hours and possibly someone to drop/pick up the DCs also. It's easiest to have a nanny I think as long as I arrange plenty of playdates for mixing with other children, activities etc. DH is working away and will be back tonight so will have a sit down discussion and plan. Thanks so much for your advice and sharing your experiences here, it has been so useful. Also thank you to the poster who reminded me how much easier it'll be when they go to school and not to give up now only to find it's all ok in a few years. Absolutely spot on - at this precise moment I want to quit; but that's because I slept for 4 hours on monday and didn't go to bed at all on tuesday.

FarBetterNow Wed 08-May-13 21:21:34

It must be difficult too for the DCs to have Mum at home but not available.
I remember Carol Thatcher saying she would come home from school, desperate to tell her Mum something really exciting only be told 'Not now, I'm working'.

I'm going against everyone here and say if you enjoy spending time with your DTs at home, go for it and be a SAHM.

You will feel like a different person within a couple of weeks.

I think it is wonderful to spend lots of time with them and not be stressed out about a job and deadlines etc. Funds allowing, of course.

Could you develop your harp playing?
Though lugging a 6ft harp to various weddings could get quite stressful!

Best wishes to you and your lovely family.

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 23:31:12

And so, the nanny search commences.
DH and I will be drawing up our criteria, which includes a tolerance for their grandmother, this weekend. We're looking to have a nanny for 4 days, but DMiL will be free to visit and play whenever (assuming she still wants anything to do with us...) The 5th day will be DMiL in the morning then I will have the afternoon off to do something fun with all of them. In 4.5 days of concentrated work time I ought to be able to get through it all, and include any meetings etc needing to be done in the office. Having a nanny should give me some flexibility in terms of when I hold these meetings so won't have to cram everything into a single day, and also hoping this will allow me to start working early morning and be done by dinner time.I'm feeling so much more positive about this, and want to thank everyone again for the suggestions etc. DH was a bit shocked this evening I think having been away and returned to find me slightly tearful and looking a bit shocking (face imploding!) and has started looking for solutions right away smile
Next stop is deciding how and when to tell DMiL and what to do about her wrath!!

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 23:37:42

FarBetterNow - I'd prefer to remain working but the working from home scenario is my attempt at being with DCs as much as I can. Becoming a pro harpist would be amazing but the practicalities less so. It's actually not too bad to transport a harp with the various covers and trolleys though one does need a really big car!

IHideVegInRice Wed 08-May-13 23:38:21

Anyway I'm off to bed - has been a VERY long day! Thanks again all grin

Kiwiinkits Thu 09-May-13 22:52:50

Good luck, veg. Sounds like you've made a good plan.
Speaking from experience, it can be hard for kids to be told 'not now, i'm working' so I think moving the office upstairs is a good idea. Really lock the door and make it a hard and fast rule with your nanny that you're not to be disturbed during the day. Otherwise you'll have the Carol Thatcher effect.
Like I said, I speak from experience.

Present the plan to MIL as a fait accompli. Up front tell her that you've loved having her around and that she's done a brilliant job. Really emphasise how wonderful she's been and focus only on the positive. Don't say anything negative: basically just say that you and DH think a nanny is the best solution for this stage in all of your lives, but that Mil is welcome around any time she likes. That ought to leave her happy.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Fri 10-May-13 09:28:45

That sounds like a good plan OP. You might find you MIL is relieved to have less of the pressure of childcare on her. Have you raised it with her yet?

I haven't read this all as it's too long and I am working from home today grin

However if it hasn't been suggested before, would renting a workspace local to you be an option? I am sure it would be cheaper than a nanny - you could go there to work and pop home/meet them somewhere for lunch. It would mean a smaller commute so not as much time out the house but for all intents and purposes, you would be "at work" you could even say that it is a branch of your work rather than something you rent yourself ;)

If you rented it all week then your OH could use it on th edays you go into the "real" office and it would make his commute smaller too.

5318008 Fri 10-May-13 11:51:42

Even from your OP it is clear that you are kind of 'playing' at WFH - ''For 3ish days a week (more if I can) I try to work from home, so that I can spend time with my small children and DMiL who is wonderful with them.''
So your body language won't match what you say to MIL, or to the children for that matter, hence the interruptions.

Work and spending time concurrently with your children is an oxymoron, it's not possible, unless you are a childminder of course!

Do book the children into formal childcare, off-premises, and thank MIL profusely for being amazing, she has done a wonderful thing, saved you shedloads of £££ by doing the care for you and DH.

motherinferior Fri 10-May-13 11:55:46

I exported my children four days a week to a childminder and came home to work grin. In truth there was NO WAY I could imagine meeting my deadlines with children around. I do bodge things together in the holidays now they are much much bigger, but that is because they can run their own lives.

IHideVegInRice Fri 10-May-13 16:29:20

I would describe the telling of MiL as an absolute fucking disaster. DH and I decided it was best to just say it rather than pretending all was ok and deceiving her so we did that last night and we made it more about the DCs than my job but she saw straight through that one and it all got quite personal and ridiculous. Think my big fat Greek wedding. On steroids. But not Greek. grin
We are getting a nanny though. DH feels really strongly, bless him, that I shouldn't have to give up my career because we have children. I know there will be a whole raft of opinions on this but the point remains - I worked like an absolute dog to get to my position and I'm not throwing that away because my DMiL thinks I'm out of my mind to get a nanny.

IHideVegInRice Fri 10-May-13 16:34:10

For a very brief period we were entirely without childcare but luckily my lovely DSis (SAHM) is going to tide us over

motherinferior Fri 10-May-13 16:36:21

Good call. Sorry it went tits-up but no way can you go on as things are and I agree it would be madness to chuck in your career.

5318008 Fri 10-May-13 16:46:18

yes, well done; difficult convo for you all

IHideVegInRice Fri 10-May-13 19:16:10

In hindsight we should have done it from the start - I don't know anyone else who relies on family care for up to 70 hour working weeks! That said, it's not just the childcare that needs tweaking: I really have taken on too much stuff at work, which I can't delegate to a member of my team so have had some informal discussions about shunting some of the less specilaised stuff sideways. After ML I'd gone back and fallen into the role of new recruit so was trying to impress but it wasn't really necessary so I'm also dropping the non-essential crap as well for a month of two and need to learn to say no more!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 10-May-13 21:02:04

Hooray, sounds like excellent progress!

blueshoes Fri 10-May-13 21:31:37

Well done OP and your dh's attitude is a great support for you.

Given the choice of location, I would prefer to work in an office than from home and given the choice of childcare, would choose paid childcare over unpaid family any time. It is the least stressful and most efficient option.

Potteresque97 Sat 11-May-13 15:04:28

Good for you. The dust will settle on the mil situation, maybe a peace offering gift at some point when everyone has forgotten the argument? Your right, I'd say that to her, the burden of all that childcare must've been stressful.

ImperialBlether Sat 11-May-13 15:43:05

Why can't you get a cleaner to come in for a couple of hours a day - this would be company for your MIL and would mean she wouldn't have to do as much tidying up.

Then, couldn't you go to work in your MIL's house? It's empty, isn't it? You could give her something for the heating you'd use. She's houseproud, but it's not likely you're going to mess it up, is it? Does she have a spare bedroom you could convert into an office?

She seems to love looking after the children and it would be a shame not to let her do this.

motherinferior Sat 11-May-13 17:32:59

Just disentangle the whole thing: work, kids, childcare, MIL. You need to focus on your work, either in your home office or the main office, and get your life back under control!

IHideVegInRice Sat 11-May-13 19:21:35

Spot on! I got to the stage where I was permanently stressed and definitely felt out of control!
MiL is still angry and has told virtually the whole family - not that they care or see the problem wink. She has taken it as the ultimate rejection and that was obviously not our intention, but inevitable due to her character. We did try to soften the blow but she's effectively in a strop.
Struggling to decide on my favourite comment from our oh-so civlised discussion...probably the one where MiL said DH had let his entire family down by marrying me grin

MsVestibule Sat 11-May-13 20:01:24

MiL said DH had let his entire family down by marrying me, yeah, you career woman cow! Putting your job before your family, tut.

You seem a tiny bit defensive about why you chose to carry on working despite being a mother - it's really not necessary! Surely you've been on MN long enough to realise that WOHM = child neglecter and SAHM = pissfarting leech grin?

IHideVegInRice Sat 11-May-13 20:41:07

Crikey. How very dare I? grin

It's ok for DH to have done the same degree at the same university, work for the same firm in the beginning, follow broadly the same career path and arrive at equivalent jobs many years later alongside a marriage and children, though, right?

GiraffesAndButterflies Sat 11-May-13 20:52:19

Glad you're getting things sorted OP smile despite MIL's protests!!

cumfy Sat 11-May-13 21:31:59

Can't DMIL just take DC to her house some days/afternoons ?

It does sound a tad claustrophobic. grin

IHideVegInRice Sat 11-May-13 21:42:39

Well, we're certainly getting a shift on with hiring a nanny!
I've come up with a new structure for the current workload so I'll be bullshitting my way through demonstrating its advantages next week and hoping I won't have to do quite so much. I'm actually doing far less "doing" than I've ever done, but it's more mulling over and giving direction which needs thought and relative peace.

Final straw came when, during a conference call, the twins were ripping it out of eachother and MiL brought them to my office for "discipline"

WTAF was I meant to do - say "excuse me Mr Chairman my toddlers are at war over the misappropriation of <insert generic neon character toy's name here>"? Apparently so, despite MiL being far more terrifying than I'll ever be! (Must be related to bosom size; my grandmother was exactly the same. I remember quaking in my boots when she caught me sliding down her banisters. At a 32B - yes, really - I've got no hope!)

IHideVegInRice Sat 11-May-13 21:56:06

Cumfy - ha, that's one way of describing it. They go to playgroups and parks when the weather is ok and playdates etc etc etc which does get them out for a few hours at least. I also run, normally at horrible times in the morning, but it really lets off some steam. And I get to go to Sainsbos if I'm lucky, on the weekend grin.
MiL (have had to temporarily drop the D) will not have them at her house. I broached the subject many times and just gave up in the end, which is another reason I lost confidence as I felt she needed the security of me to ram wellies on them and announce it was juice time etc. At no point did we expect her to be providing full-on childcare but the situation grew over time and she was adamant DTs would not be going to anyone else but family. My own DM is out of the question for a number of reasons.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 12-May-13 09:31:56

You are doing the right thing, OP.

motherinferior Sun 12-May-13 10:53:04

MiL clearly hasn't taken any notice of that pesky recession in which anyone with a decent career hangs desperately onto their job...

And she is also clearly of the opinion you are "getting a bit of work done" not actually working.

noviceoftheday Sun 12-May-13 11:12:28

Oh dear, that sounds awful, glad you're getting it sorted. I have a full time nanny but work from home up to 2 days a week, although the last few months I have hardly worked from home. I have a lovely office all kitted out with speaker phone, printer etc but over the last year have had to move primarily to working from bedroom to avoid that nasty moment when dcs burst in on a conference call! I think it's also one of the reasons why I have worked more from the office the last few months although I will be reversing that trend as I have worked from home for 10 years but people could very easily forget in 10 minsgrin

You are absolutely doing the right thing and no need to justify it.

noviceoftheday Sun 12-May-13 11:12:28

Oh dear, that sounds awful, glad you're getting it sorted. I have a full time nanny but work from home up to 2 days a week, although the last few months I have hardly worked from home. I have a lovely office all kitted out with speaker phone, printer etc but over the last year have had to move primarily to working from bedroom to avoid that nasty moment when dcs burst in on a conference call! I think it's also one of the reasons why I have worked more from the office the last few months although I will be reversing that trend as I have worked from home for 10 years but people could very easily forget in 10 minsgrin

You are absolutely doing the right thing and no need to justify it.

NomDeClavier Sun 12-May-13 11:28:03

Good for you taking the plunge. It obviously wasn't working and if a nanny makes sense for you then that's best all round. Your MiL will get over it.

For now get thinking on what hours you want, what kind of nanny you want, wrote a very clear job description (which makes it blatantly obvious you're not to be disturbed), work out your budget and get an ad up on places like Nannyjob and Gumtree, or if you can't face recruiting yourself get in touch with a good agency (but be prepared to pay £££).

You will feel 100x better when it's sorted.

IHideVegInRice Mon 13-May-13 13:22:52

Thanks all - yes, we are in touch with an agency. And yes, their fees are eyewatering! We've got some time off this week to write about hamwidges on MN get to grips with it all. Thanks for the support; it is the right thing for my family. It might not be everyone's choice but at this moment in time it is what we need.

IHideVegInRice Sun 19-May-13 10:45:25

Hello all, just thought I'd pop along and say a great big thank you for your posts! The nanny situation is looking very positive indeed smile. We have been rearranging the house and I've now moved my office to the ground floor (we live in one of those tall narrow houses set into a hill <outs self>) - much, much, MUCH better so really appreciate the suggestions to move.
Such a relief to get things sorted. I'd been living like that for well over 6 months and I was absolutely worn out, but for wasn't able to confide in my RL friends because they wear a rainbow spectrum of judgey pants. I just needed a bit of egging on, so to speak, to stop pleasing other people when it didn't suit us! DMiL is still livid and appears to have disowned us...DH claims this is no bad thing wink. Main thing for us is making sure the DTs are happy and well cared for which I think they will be.

Laquitar Sun 19-May-13 13:38:53

How old are your children OP?
When i was nannying if mum was working from home i was doing the whole 'bye mummy, have good day,mummy is going to work now' when mum was going upstairs to the study. This makes the message to the children clear that mum now goes to work.

Are you thinking of letting your mil to visit your nanny whenever she wants? Good luck but honestly i don't think the nanny will be happy with this. Maybe make it scheduled one afternoon per week but not out of the blue all the time.

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