Back to work - making it work with two kids. Please help.

(69 Posts)
BlueHat Wed 21-Nov-12 10:39:23

I'm back to work after a nine month maternity after Christmas. Please convince me that what I am trying to do is possible.

I'm a teacher and I work three days a week. I will be in work 8am-5.30pm on these days, and bring home about two hours work on those evenings. Then I'll need to put in a couple of hours at the weekend or on my days off. I know for a fact it will not be possible to get away with putting less hours in.

I have a school aged child, and the baby. They obviously require different types of childcare so they will be in two separate places. To get them to their childcare and myself to work by 8am through rush hour traffic is going to be nigh on impossible so DH is supposed to be taking one child in the morning, possibly both of them. I will have to pick them both up, and I think it unlikely that we will get back home before 6.30pm. Then I will need to do dinner/bath/bed for both of them, and then sit down to marking, etc. Then start preparing for the morning ahead - clothes, packed lunches, etc.

My thoughts on making this work are:

no TV or non-work related screen time for me on work evenings AT ALL.
no prep dinners - so beans on toast, microwave meals, etc. on work evenings.

Is there anything else I haven't thought of? Getting out the house in the mornings is a worry, I think we will have to leave the house at 7.30 or before - any thoughts on that?

Another concern is that over the course of maternity leave DH has pretty much packed up doing anything in the house during the week. He does at weekends though. I'm worried that he will find it a big shock after Christmas to start doing housework and childcare during the week again, of course he swears blind that he won't hmm. I have asked that he doesn't go out in the evenings on the days I work so that he can be there to share the whole dinner/bath/bed/making packed lunches thing, but he won't agree to that angry.

I'm also concerned that we are over estimating what it will be possible for me to achieve on my days off. I've been stunned by how much more work two children compared to one, and also by how restrictive being hemmed in by the school run is when you are at home. Also by how time consuming it is to have a child at school - remembering reading books, dress up day, sponsor forms, etc. (You would think a teacher would realise this but I didn't!)

In short, I basically think we have bitten off more than we can chew here. There will be absolutely no 'settling back in' period for me at work, I will be expected to hit the ground running and to be planning and delivering prefect lessons from day one. We can't afford for me not to work. Please tell me how I can make this work!

Get both into another half day/full days childcare - use that time to do something for yourself - massage, manicure, looking at shoes, having a coffee somewhere, going to the library, something - What you are about to do will be hard work and a few hours a week will make it bearable. I always find a few daylight hours are more fun/relaxing/useful than thinking of dh at home with the children.

Online shopping - same meals, set it up now, set delivery at the same time every week - be more creative when you have time/can be arsed - right now it's one less thing on your mind.

I only do laundry one day a week - if I stretch it over the week it feels like I'm trapped at home waiting for stuff to be finished - if that's the way you are just do one day - lots of people can manage to pop washes on, take them out when they have time, theres no room in my house for loads of washing to hang about so its one day only.

BlueHat Wed 21-Nov-12 11:27:23

Yorkpud he did used to take DC1 out for a weekend morning so I could work, but it was hard to know where to take him when it was winter and pouring with rain. And will be even harder with a baby and a child.

It is true that your work dominates the household - teaching is shit - I'm married to a teacher and last weekend he marked both full days - 20 hours of him not being completely available.

Procrastinating Wed 21-Nov-12 11:28:13

It sounds like DH is most of the problem to me. I'm sure your work pays for the household too.

BlueHat Wed 21-Nov-12 11:29:04

Laurie how on earth do you only do laundry one day a week?! How do you get it dry?! It's two loads a day here, once you include sheets and towels!

Tumble drier in the shed outside. Sheets, towels washed once a week. No ironing. Lots of jersey dresses.

BlueHat Wed 21-Nov-12 11:31:21

Right, I really am going to look into some nursery hours for the baby on one of my days off. I think that's the way forwards.

BlueHat Wed 21-Nov-12 11:34:13

Procrastinating I think it is fair to say that he is resentful of the work I bring home. That I am part time, but actually work full time hours - the rest of them at home. tbh I would be resentful too. Actually I am.

Llareggub Wed 21-Nov-12 11:35:44

No offence, but you are over thinking this. I am a lone parent with 2 children, one at school and one not. I work full-time in a demanding job. It will be fine.

BlueHat Wed 21-Nov-12 11:38:02

None taken, I am over thinking this. I've got quite worked up about this.

You have every right to be resentful, you have chosen a profession that part-time hours equal full time hours and full time hours equal 70 a week term-time if you're secondary.

the demands placed on teachers are ridiculous and all you can do really is say no to as much as possible, no extra curricular, no putting in hours you can't afford - at least as long as the children are young enough that you want to be with them. You have to have really strict boundaries.

In the school I work in they really pile on the guilt about how it's 'all for the children' but the reality is that it's a business (private school) and they want to get as much out of you as possible. And yes, the children get an amazing education but it's often at the expense of teachers family lives.

pollycazalet Wed 21-Nov-12 11:40:51

If money is tight I would prioritise getting help in rather than putting your baby into nursery an extra morning. Cleaner and/ or ironing help, depending on what your priorities are. You could outsource big washes too like sheets and towels on a service wash at the laundrette.

Work out a two weekly meal plan (including daily packed lunches) and just revolve it and set up online shopping lists so that you don't have to think about it. Try and cook at weekends and freeze. My DS always had school dinners at this stage which made it easier.

Do as much as possible the night before and do as much as you can as you go along. Don't be tempted to go to bed with the kitchen in a tip as you'll pay for it the next day.

DH and I had assigned tasks every night - eg one of us got the easiest child to bed (who that is will change, probably weekly!) and the other did the post meal clear up. Do some trial runs where you both start the dinner/ bed routine at 6.30 and see how it goes and where the pressure points are, where you can double up with the kids - eg bath together, stories together on your work nights.

We have a huge calendar on the wall and (in theory) we have a 10 minute conversation on saturday am running through the week to come and who will do what - this gives time for eg emergency book day costume prep!

It does get easier as they get older (mine are now 10 and 12) and you sound really organised, you'll make it work. The thing that will give is time for yourself for a while - focus on the holidays!

MistressIggi Wed 21-Nov-12 12:10:35

Bluehat I will be doing similar to you shortly. Going to use a childminder for baby, and also for before/after school - is that an option?
Also despite being in the same job as you I just won't work the extra hours you suggest. I did when I was single, it just isn't happening now. There are extra hours you cannot avoid, but I discovered the sky did not fall in if jotters were not marked as often as I'd have liked or if I ran the same course for two years without re-writing it. What are the things in your job that make the biggest impact (and the ones management notice if you don't do) and focus on them. I am a unionised type though and I think we do no-one any favours by being martyrs in teaching.
Whatever you decide, it will work out fine, but if you are trying to do everything both at home and work you may find "you" are the one who suffers, no time to mumsnet

brainonastick Wed 21-Nov-12 12:17:10

Haven't read the thread (cardinal sin, sorry), but my quick suggestions from experience are:

- have the children have a good hot meal at lunchtime (school dinners, or batch cook casseroles etc for the little one for at childcare). That way, you can just chuck sandwiches and cake and fruit at them as soon as you get home in the evenings. Or even get them to eat their tea at childcare?

- if either child needs more sleep than your getting up time allows, leave them until as late as possible. Get yourself up, and everything else done, then get them up and out last. Sometimes I used to get DD1 up at 7.55 and leave at 8am (she loved her sleep)!

- preparation is all. Bags done the night before, clothes out for all of you the night before, shower for you the night before etc etc. So all you have to do in the morning is put clothes on, brush teeth and out of the house (assuming your children have breakfast at childcare, and you can grab something before you go or at work).

The first few weeks will be frantic, but you will manage, and its only for 3 days of the week, so it'll be over before you know it!

Procrastinating Wed 21-Nov-12 12:31:51

BlueHat I know just how you feel, I'm paid for 18 hours a week and I work about 40 hours (university teaching). I have small children at home and can't afford childcare.
The job takes over everything, but without it we would not be able to pay the mortgage. If this is your situation your DH needs to give you the time to get your work done and appreciate your contribution.

My DH had the children all weekend so I could mark & prepare (we had winter vomiting last week so factor illness in to your plans), this is miserable, but necessary so you just have to get on with it.

Having said that you do adapt to living like this and I so appreciate time with the children and away from work.

fromparistoberlin Wed 21-Nov-12 12:40:26

of course you will cope, there are some pros to your situation

you only work 3 days, this gives you 2 week days to get shit done so you can enjoy weekends

Its only 3 days a week, really, many women (and men) do this 5 days!

you get more holiday than the average, I KNOW you will work alot of hours but how great you dont have to worry about term time childcare, and you get this time with the kids

I can see its a shame you cant get a CM, but you cant. Things will change

and cant you do some of the work on the non work days (ue when baby naps/watches DVD) rather than evenings

stop fretting, it will be OK, and its 3 days a week, the other 4 wont have this shit

fryingpanalley Wed 21-Nov-12 12:53:46

School dinners definitely!
And how about regular time for the DC with DH on a Sat morning- get him to always take them swimming or to the library- something regular.

naughtymummy Wed 21-Nov-12 12:59:01

Good luck ! I agree with what's already been said about some nursery time for lo when you can do your stuff at home-sanity saving.

Some thoughts: if DH takes them to pre-school care, could you get to school for 7 or 730 and get some work out of the way early ? (I regularly do this).
I agree the children only need one hot meal a day, most nurseries do a hot lunch.
I would do quick and easy in the evening.

On the days you are working your DH needs to pull his weight, sorry don't know how else to phrase that, he just does.

I do a meal planner and stick it up on it twice a week is written DH cooking, then he knows it's his responsibility.

reindeerjumper Wed 21-Nov-12 14:09:01

I'm not saying you should go to bed the same time as the children every night, but you willneed to occasionally. That will make you more efficent for doing your evening work the next evening.

PastaDee Wed 21-Nov-12 17:34:41

I can help with the mornings. I have to leave with DD by 7am and it is absolutely fine.

The trick is to get up before your DC and get dressed and ready yourself (have your shower the night before).

I'd wake the baby first putting his clothes on (laid out night before) as you change nappy and then let him feed himself a cup of milk whilst you get your older DC up and dressed.

Breakfast is served at nursery but the cup of milk helps with my guilt!

wearymum200 Wed 21-Nov-12 20:18:24

I'm with posters who suggest buying in help rather than extra childcare; I want my days off to be child time. My cleaner is about the same cost as childcare for 1 dc for the hours she does, but I'm essentially paying to allow myself more play time with dc.
I also work 3 days per week (not teaching) and do approx 8 hours work in eve/ weekend each week. Dh commutes and is out from 0630 to approx 9pm daily and away 1 to 2 nights per week. So I do all weekday stuff.
It is possible, rigorous routines so everything flows as normal, all cooking for work days done in advance (batch cooking, slow cooker and eking out the weekend roast leftovers). My dc both have hot meals in the middle of the day and get a packed meal (which goes to work with me) in the eve, on the way home. Deffo not baths every night.
Good luck it does get easier...

Xenia Wed 21-Nov-12 20:56:44

1. Get a full time job in stead and then get to be a head and out earn your other half and he will shut up and start helping.
2. I would never have tolerated a sexist man even for a day - we both worked full time. Ultimately I earned 10x what he did - we had 5 children. 2 is dead easy.
3. When we had the first ones and not much money one of us had the children all day Saturday and the other all day Sunday.
4. Sunny Jim will just have to forgo his evenings out. If he does plan to go out make him pay for and find a babysitter and you go out too to the local library to work.
5. Pathetic of him to say there is nowhere to take out a child at the weekend - there are loads of options - you can do a walk in all weathers, many museums are free, the library - thousands of options.

Sounds like he needs to go on a feminist awareness course

Also put him in charge of all cooking and all washing and you do none ever. I had a phase where my childrne's father was the only one who knew how to work the washing machine and that worked just fine.

Llareggub Wed 21-Nov-12 21:10:00

Xenia, I think I love you.

legojunkie Wed 21-Nov-12 22:30:38

2 children is not easy. angry

Xenia Thu 22-Nov-12 09:59:40

LL, thanks. Sometimes this is about ceding power at home. I never seemed to have any problem thinking someone else, their father or someone looking after the children may do things differently from me, perhaps worse, perhaps better and that tolerating that difference was the price I paid for not doing that task. iti is not even sharing tasks which necessarily helps. People do tasks better if they are 100% responsible for them and the other person doesn't even have to think about those tasks.

I have by the way since learned to use the washing machine....and do bits of plumbing. He did though at that earlier stage do all the washing before disposable nappies worked and when we had 3 children under 4 all in nappies at night and had his own systems for drying them. Indeed you need to do your due diligence before marriage - has this man lived alone, does he use the washer, was his mother a drudge, does he think women only cook and men don't. Are you tidy and he not or vice versa.

I did life coach someone once and her bi ggest problem was perfectionism rather than just letting things be "good enough".

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