The impossible dream? Two full on careers and two small children.

(16 Posts)
toomanywheeliebins Tue 05-Nov-13 10:49:46

For various reasons both me and my DH have got to the point in our lives where the next step up career wise would be a big one. Waiting a few more years would stall both of us considerably.

I had a senior role before DC1 and returned to that role after mat leave initially on four days and then nine day fortnight. My husband did the alternate Friday after some battling with an old school boss. A nine day fortnight arrangement could be possible in new roles but it would be breaking new ground.

I am now on mat leave with our second, 9 months. The eldest is 3. I am looking to take a leap upwards and so is DH. He is in a professional job so well paid but not in senior management like me .We are committed to a local nursery where our eldest is happy but would consider a nanny for a few days. We have a modest house in zone 2 with a reasonable mortgage and have a crap car, no flash holidays so could thankfully afford more hours cleaning and other help etc. Our commute is minimal so 30-40 mins max. No family help at all. One of us would be with the kids by 5.30 most days but the other would have to do work late (classic shuttle parenting) and the home parent would probably have to log back on after bed time.

What would you do? I love my job and cope well with stress. The plan had been that I would go and do the big job, but for various reasons it also seems the right time for DH.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 05-Nov-13 11:02:46

Try it. It sounds like you have a pretty good set up in that you could afford a nanny and cleaner - it would be possible to do using nursery (lots of people do), but I think it would be less stressful for you and probably better for the children too if you had a nanny.

Sometimes opportunities come along and you just have to go for it and muddle through for a few years. It sounds like it could be a major source of regret for you if you don't. But keep an open mind and if its totally hideous be prepared to reassess.

Abra1d Tue 05-Nov-13 11:04:43

Try it for an agreed period (agreed with your husband). If it doesn't work out, revert to plan B. If you say you'll give it a go for, say, nine months, if would give you time to assess.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 05-Nov-13 11:05:30

I am a sahm by the way, but that is because my own career had stalled and I took the opportunity to have a few years out with a view to re training. I know my life is going to get pretty stressful and hectic when I start studying (waiting until youngest is 3), but it's what I need to do for my future, so i guess I'll just get on with it.

So if I were you, looking at making a big advancement in my career, I would take the job.

Preciousbane Tue 05-Nov-13 11:11:18

How much time would get eaten up with the big role? I have always had modest roles and it suited me as I value free time over money and actually turned down promotion at one point so I could go part time instead. It meant I could pick dc up from school. I also didn't want to manage people as I always found that friends that moved up found this the hardest aspect.

DH and I earnt similar amounts when we got together but he has forged ahead with his career. We live up North as well so money goes a lot further.

I do have two friends that have very decent careers. They have both managed it by being absolutely strict routine wise. One is so strict with herself she has a specific time for everything, such as between 8 and 8.30pm she does her exercise regime and takes off her make up and gets changed for bed.

I must admit the other one does lament the fact that she just exists and has little time for anything else. She has just bought a huge house with almost half an acre of garden though!

There is no right or wrong but for me more time at home and less stress won the day.

HairyPorter Tue 05-Nov-13 11:14:41

Sounds good if one of you will be home by 5.30! When I o back to work I think that's going to be very unlikely and our nanny will have to do bedtime most days.... As long as you have a good set up for childcare it doesn't matter too much.. It's about quality childcare and if someone else can provide care that is as good as what I could then I'd be happy for that!

Coveredinweetabix Tue 05-Nov-13 11:30:07

Why don't you give it a go. I think you do need to have a good support team in place so a cleaner whose got a bit of a houskeeper role too so can drop things off at the dry cleaner. we did this with our old cleaner once I realised our old cleaner used to go past both the dry cleaners & a Tesco Express on the way to ours, I paid her for an extra 30mins and would text her on the morning with things like "bread, milk, yogurts for the children, bananas" and she'd stop and get those as well as any dry cleaning that she'd dropped off the week before. It made such a difference. Sadly she retired and our new cleaner comes a different way. And the cleaner came twice a week with her Friday session being more about sorting things out than cleaning so she changed the sheets on all of the beds, the towels in the bathrooms, put the washing away etc. If you got a nanny, she may be able to do a little of this but looking after 2 young children is pretty full on so she wouldn't be able to do much of it.
What is going to happen if one of the DC are ill? With 2 DC in nursery then you've got the potential scenario of getting a phone call on Monday pm to say one of them has been sick so needs picking up and can't go back for 48 hours and the other comes down with the bug on Wednesday meaning you've had to have a week off. We've found a local lady who is self employed and doesn't work full time so has some flexibility and so is able to pick the DC up in that scenario, look after them until we get home and possibly help out the following day. When it was chicken pox, this covered us enough until the grandparents could arrive in answer to our plea for help (retired but live hours away); with a recent sickness bug, this lady did the mornings and DP and I took turns to do the afternoons meaning we were both able to do urgent work and keep on top of things. It wasn't ideal for anyone but it worked. I think you need a similar arrangement, try gumtree or child care.co.uk.
Do you have room for an au pair? They may be able to pick up the slack a bit. Given the age of DC2, you wouldn't be able to use an au pair for sole care but they could do nursery drop off & pick up a few times a week giving you a but of flexibility.

toomanywheeliebins Tue 05-Nov-13 11:38:08

Thanks for all comments so far. Really helpful. We are erring towards the suck it and see approach with room for adjustments if it doesn't work out but these jobs take a lot of effort to get (understandably so) so it does feel like a big decision. We are committed to using additional resources earnt to ease the burden esp for the children so it will likely to mean most of any salary increase will be used up in this way. This is fine as long as the career progression is worth it.
The one who gets home on time will be leaving early (before kids get up). My job is likely to be more senior in terms of responsibility and therefore more unpredictable. Money is likely to be similar or DH earning more (different sectors). My role is likely to be enormous but face time (ie need to be in office) limited to week days mainly apart from set piece events such as conferences etc . There is no doubt that I will need to log in most nights and get even less sleep than now (silent cursing baby). It's the type of job that if a man was doing it with children you would expect his wife/partner to be working part-time.

Anyone done part nursery part nanny?

BlameItOnTheBogey Tue 05-Nov-13 11:40:46

We are in this situation. It is workable. But in my experience only with a brilliant and flexible nanny, a cleaner and a strong and caring relationship.

Our nanny has saved us on many occasions. DC1 is now school age but inevitably there are days when he is sick or when something goes wrong and he has to come home from school. My job simply doesn't have the flexibility to take days off as and when this happens. Neither does DH's. Without our nanny (who lives in for us) we would be stuck. Instead on the days when I wake up and one of the DCs has a fever I know that all I need to do is hand them over to her and they will be looked after amazingly at home. DC2 is at nursery and the same applies. She also carts the kids around to after school clubs. Remember whatever solution you put in place needs to be sustainable once they are school age.

YOu also need someone not just to clean the house but to do chores that you won't have time to do (drop stuff off at dry cleaner, deliveries etc). Otherwise you will spend your whole weekend doing this stuff and you will have no time for the kids.

Finally, it is the give and take that matters, in our set up, I do school drop off in the morning before heading into work and DH comes home in time to bathe then and put them to bed. But there are always days when I have a breakfast meeting or he needs to stay late and we are pretty good a boxing and coxing.

One final thought; think about how you are going to do things like build in time for exercise. I find it really affects my mental health if I don't get to the gym on a regular basis so we have also figured out a way to make this work (and DH runs into work at 0530 everyday).

I think you can do it. You are approaching it in a very well thought through way and having these discussions now makes you sound like you have a very solid relationship.

I have seen this work well, though am probably where you were about 18 months ago so am not talking from experience.

It sounds as though travel won't be an additional challenge to juggle which will make it easier than for some.

One thing I know a few people who have done this have struggled with is when the kids get to an age where they start to struggle with it, or be more vocal about struggling with it. My former boss did a similar set up to you very well until she hit a bit of a perfect storm with DS1 at 7 and DS2 at 5. The youngest was really struggling with consistency and routine. Hated never being sure who would pick him up and being 'let down' by parents when work got in the way. The eldest started really acting up because he resented his parents going away so much.

My boss had earned enough stripes with her company to create for herself a really flexible part time role. It meant stepping back a bit for a while but kept her sane. But if she hadn't had 3-4 crazy years of juggling she would have just let her career stall at child 2.

Coveredinweetabix Tue 05-Nov-13 15:41:04

Thinking about this some more
- the supermarket delivery arrived whilst the cleaner was here. When we were initially sorting out her hours, we asked if she'd be OK to do this and built it into her hours;
- we had a handyman around on one occasion who turned out to have a daughter at the same pre-school as DD so I figured out I could track him down if I needed to so gave him keys and whenever there was a problem with the house, we'd call him, he'd go & have a look and either sort it out or suggest someone who could;
- many of our neighbours are SAHMs or retired or work part time and are happy to take deliveries etc. I make sure I give them all a couple of bottles of wine at Xmas
- both DP and I worked somewhere with an OK canteen so would try and have a proper meal at work most days meaning we didn't want to eat much in the evening

It is slightly galling seeing all of your money being eaten up servicing your career choices but DP and I both enjoy our jobs and knew that, for any career goals, we couldn't step back at this stage. We thought we managed to create a set up where the children were happy and settled, saw enough of us, we saw enough of each other (even if mainly watching box sets of an evening) although I both of us stopped exercising as there just wasn't time. We only did this for 9mths or so though as DP was then made redundant so I don't know what the long term effects would have been and whether things would have caught up with us after a while.

milkwasabadchoice Tue 05-Nov-13 15:49:10

We do this. And I have a massive commute too. It's a bit insane. I have Fridays off though and won't give them up for the foreseeable. My children do longer days at nursery than I like, and get very tired (and sick!) so I am interviewing a nanny this week.

Maybe I will regret all this working like mad and commuting and working again in te evenings but I live my job, especially now I am in a new senior role. Give it a try!

BlingLoving Tue 05-Nov-13 15:59:27

I think you should go for it. You've obviously thought about it and it's good opportunity for both. And while the dc are younger it's probably easier with fewer extra activities, play dates etc.

I would agree ythat a nanny at least some of the time is a better idea. It covers you if children are sick and you can come to an arrangement where she does all cooking, shopping, cleaning and so on for dc. It does also require smart planning eg online shopping and perhaps a regular milk/bread/yoghurt etc deliveries. We have this and it's made our lives a lot easier.

toomanywheeliebins Tue 05-Nov-13 16:26:22

Ooh feeling a bit more positive now. Hurrah. I went for one of the most competitive jobs in my sector a month or so ago and got to the final few
despite barely sleeping thanks to the baby and not being in a work environment for months so I know I'm punching at the right level.
At the time, my DH was going to go part-time but he has a rethink and really wants to push on and I think he's right too. We have a good relationship. He says I was stressed a nightmare when I started my old senior job and he bore the brunt all of it. He is very proud of me and what I have achieved and we have survived two small children, a death of a beloved parent and a hideous house moving situation that nearly sent me over the edge in recent years. I think we will be ok if we are kind to each other and except it is going to be hard. He is excellent with the children, but disorganised with house stuff. I am training shouting at him.

In terms of practicalities in the long term we could consider an au pair but our house is small. We could definately ask our cleaner to do more housekeeper type roles (she has been with us a long time and is part of the family) and our dry cleaners can deliver at 7pm I discovered recently -after single handed keeping them afloat with large quantities of beautiful dresses covered in yogurt.

Sickness I guess we would have to rope in the inlaws. Really agree with pp who mentioned exercise. My DH cycles and I prefer to swim but that has challenges in terms of hair. Could work in a run home occasionally never

annieorangutan Thu 07-Nov-13 18:09:25

Of course you will be fine we are both in managerial roles with 2 young children, no nanny, no family help and no cleaner. Its fine and works well.

Alanna1 Thu 07-Nov-13 18:14:07

We do this. Its hard but it works!
Some extra tips
- nursery might be able to help with a drop off or pick up on a regular basis for extra cash - gives you more hours and better than an au pair
- cleaner twice a week (if you have cash). Can ask them to do laundry too.
- emergency numbers.

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