Is it possible for mums to work full time too?

(17 Posts)
CookieDoughKid Mon 10-Jun-13 13:45:06

DH has just accepted a senior job in California (we're currently in Home Counties). We have two toddler DC's. I work full time and there is a possibility of an internal job transfer to Cali for my role. It could work but logisitically, be very tough. At the mo, in UK, we have a very handson au-pair that allows both me and DH to work full time. My DH's new job would be full-on (and so will mine!) . I'm thinking it would make sense for me to take a step back but I'm not sure because in the long run, me keeping a job has a lot of benefits (for many reasons too long to list here ;)

My question to those of you that have done it and moved across to a new country, do you think it would be at all feasible for both parents to work? In the first year of moving across, was it helpful to have a stay at home mum or dad to help make the settling in period smooth? Many thanks

karmakameleon Mon 10-Jun-13 14:09:20

I've seen expat families with both parents working and it seemed to work well for them. With the families I knew, one parent took a couple of months out when they arrived to set up their new home, find appropriate childcare and settle the kids into school. Once that was all sorted they then returned to work.

evertonmint Mon 10-Jun-13 14:14:48

A friend has done this. She didn't have an internal transfer so got everyone settled then started looking and now they both work full time. They are somewhere where it's fairly typical to have live in help which helps a lot. It is now working out well. May make sense to see if you can take a sabbatical for a month or two between roles to help get settled as imagine it will be very hard to turn up and then start work a few days or a week later.

Alligatorpie Mon 10-Jun-13 14:42:22

When we moved to North Africa dh and I both had jobs (we are teachers) and five year old dd went to school with us. The school found us a flat, gave us mobiles and drive us to school, so we don't have all that added stress.
Then I got pg and have spent the last year on mat leave. I go back f/t in sept with a promotion (so extra responsibilities) and we are already talking about hiring our cleaner for another day, doing more shopping on line / deliveries, sending out ironing...anything we can do to make life easier. But, help is cheap here.
Dd2 is one and will go to our school nursery and dd1 is seven and very comfortable here, so that makes a difference.
I am not sure how feasible it would have been for me to experience culture shock, find a home, get dd1 settled, sort out phones / internet, figure out where the supermarkets are, find day care / nanny and focus on my job all at the same time. You might want to look at delaying your start date if you can.

Saltedcaramellavacake Mon 10-Jun-13 14:43:00

With very young kids who are used to you working I think it's doable, and avoids the dislocation/loss of purpose that lots of "trailing" spouses feel. I agree that you need to give yourselves time to settle into a house and alternative care for your kids. What are the care options in California and how happy are you with them? That will be key - are there au pairs? Are the au pairs restricted to short hours/short visa stays (meaning frequent changes) like in some countries? Is other good quality care affordable? We live in Asia where live in help is cheap but unqualified - some families with two parents working would leave their toddlers with a maid, others would put them into full-time daycare thinking that it would be more stimulating. California should have lots of options but only you know if they would work for you.
You'd have to expect the kids to regress a bit in terms of development and behaviour with a major change (especially a change in their main caregiver) so being more available for a few weeks/months would be very helpful.

Moknicker Mon 10-Jun-13 14:55:30

We were in exactly the same situation. Moved to US East Coast with my husband's job. Have two small DCs (3.1 and 1.10 at time of move). I worked part time in the UK and had a fab nanny.

When we moved here, I got offered a job but it was full time and had travel. I agonized about taking it (have a thread about it in the going back to work section) but in the end decided that I couldnt do it.

My reasons were as follows:

-When i got the job, we were just 4 months into our US sojourn - things were still unsettled for all of us. DH at work, DD at her preschool and DS at home. My going to work full time would have just put too much stress on an already stressful situation.

-DH has to travel for work in the US and I was being asked to as well.

-DS had hit terrible twos and really needed some one on one time with me.

Now that we are nine months into the US stay, we are all much more settled and I think if I were offered the job today, I would be much more inclined to take it.

Good luck with whatever you decide. As a mum with a career, it is really tough to optimize your life all the time.

rushingrachel Mon 10-Jun-13 18:09:10

Not quite the same situation as I was over here in Belgium when my kids were born. I was senior counsel in a multinational, travelled a lot. My husband was and is a senior attorney in a US law firm. Eye watering hours. I went back to work after DS1 but not DS2. The logistics of it all with no grandparent on hand and no part time opportunity or anywhere near regular hours nearly drove me to the edge.

I do not regret giving up because so love being there for my kids but so wish there had been some part time opportunity that had allowed me genuinely to pursue my career and give time to kids. Law is not great on that.

I would say it will work for you if one of you can have reasonably regular hours and you make really cast iron child care plans (and think through all the permutations: 1 parent travelling; 2 parents travelling; nanny sick; kids sick etc). Make sure you know how you will have it covered. My husband and I so often landed up on the phone when the nanny went sick saying "well I can't do" and the other saying "well I can't do it". And it got so tiring.

It is no win, all compromise. But that's life I guess. Good luck, whatever you choose.

lollystix Mon 10-Jun-13 19:52:12

Yes. We have moved 16 months ago and have 4 kids under 6. I started work after 4 months (spent 4 months intensive friend making) and we have an amazing nanny. We have based ourselves near work so commutes not too bad but we juggle as we are often out after work at things. It's crazy but no worse than UK (and nanny is a great help compared to daycare - no judgement on daycare but you can't be late IYKWIM).

CookieDoughKid Tue 11-Jun-13 18:05:57

Thanks everyone. That's really encouraging and good to see that we CAN work... Like rushing said, it's all compromise when you're a mum isn't it?!

Wibblypiglikesbananas Tue 11-Jun-13 21:23:16

I'm in the US, DH works and I don't. The only thing I would say, and this obviously depends on industry, is that long hours in London were relatively short(!) compared with what are considered to be long hours here.

I know that there have been a number of times this past year when our stack of cards would have come tumbling down, had I not been at home 'facilitating' in the background.

That said, with lots of outside help and loads of forward planning, I think it's possible. Guess it just depends on what you want/enjoy. Good luck!

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Fri 14-Jun-13 10:29:03

It's a tricky one, and the feminist in me gets pissed off that it always falls to the mother to smooth the transition and facilitate the career trajectory of her partner at the expense of her own. Personally, and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I'd hang in there and just get childcare to cover it ( maybe ask for a 3 mth sabbatical). Remember that childcare is BOTH your responsibility, not just yours. If you give up work now, then it becomes your responsibility by default so it's harder to get back into work.

Trailing really sucks after a while- yes you can fill your time with fun stuff that is arguably more fun than work but the lack of purpose can be pretty demoralising. Plus, you can feel quite disconnected from your new home. You hang with other trailing spouses, as that's who's around in the day, and they're all disconnected and purposeless too. It's an odd dynamic.

I got lucky and was offered a job with my former employer after 3 years of trailing and I can honestly say it was the best decision ever to go back to work. I am PT at the moment but if it was ft or nothing, I'd choose FT

Want2bSupermum Sat 15-Jun-13 15:10:03

If you have a good au pair you can bring them with you. The cost is about $6k for a visa and you have to go through one of the approved centers. I would do what I could to bring a good au pair with me regardless of your working status. I would also be telling my DH that he should include it in his relocation neiotiations as a covered expense.

The hardest obstacle to overcome is not having family close by to help out when things go wrong. The au pair can help mitigate this.

I would def take the job and ask for a sabbatical to get your family settled. Once there and you can see how the land lies I would try for flexible working. Over the summer I have set myself up with a 4 day work week based on me working 40 (50 really) hours Mon-Thurs. If I have any left over work I do it on Friday morning. It seems that every road in NJ is dug up right now so employers are willing to work with employees to help cut down on time wasted sitting in traffic. I save 3 hours by not going into work on Friday.

Xenia Sat 15-Jun-13 15:30:14

If one of you has to mess up your career let it be him. Far to many women ruin careers because of men and then regret it.

LoopyLooplaHoop Sun 16-Jun-13 07:01:56

We have done what Xenia suggests. DH hasn't worked now for a year, we are all settled, and thinking of finding him something for pin money (irony).

DH works full time and is the main earner. He was before we moved too. We made the decision to move when DD2 was a matter of weeks old, so the first year I was at home. It's been a long journey for us as the DC are still very little and I have needed to learn local language skills, so working full time was not possible. After 2 years I'm about to start a 'proper job' which I'm delighted about. For us, the advantage is that we live in family friendly scandinavia where working hours are flexible, childcare is affordable and there are proper provisions for time off for when choldren are ill. There is also a very strong culture of gender equality in the family roles.

nooka Sun 16-Jun-13 07:18:26

I'd go for the transfer simply because getting a visa to work in the States can be very difficult, and this is by far the easiest way to be able to work. when my dh transferred to NYC I wasn't allowed to apply for a working visa until we had arrived, so there was an automatic delay of three months plus before I could even apply for a job, and then of course breaking into a completely new job market can be really hard too.

If you can do it with a sabbatical (for either you or your dh or a bit for each of you) then that sounds like a great option, and if you can arrange for your current au pair to go with you then I think that would be even better (continuity is great when making a big move).

I'd also be looking at how the US workplace you may be joining is set up, as sometimes you get very long working hours cultures with very little holiday either given or taken, and that could make a big difference as to whether you both working will be doable/happy.

For us I had to stay at home when we moved to the States, and then when we moved to Canada after that dh chose to stay at home. It did make life easier, but was more about his preferences really (I would have much rather worked, am not good with being at home for too long)

Pitmountainpony Thu 20-Jun-13 05:12:20

Go for it- get a transfer so they sort the visa. We are in California and you can get help for 12 bucks an hour to 15 for a home nanny- similar to the UK.
Then they can stay home when the kids are sick. If you are making it work over there you can make it work over here. There are some amazing nannies- lots of hispanic women some of whom are happy to take on a mixed role of housekeeping/nannying/keeping the house running depending on the age of your kids.
Just keep doing what you are doing now if it works.I do not work but have a 1 and 3 year old and am happy with that situation but if i had been able to have a transfer, maybe I would have been tempted if the hours had not been crazy. Very happy with my lot but aware you pay a price being out of the workforce- which I am choosing to pay as i want to be home with my kids but I know that a well picked nanny would have done a great job with them too if i had gone down that route.
California is amazing.

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