Single parents working full time - how does it work for you?

(23 Posts)
sapphirestar Wed 20-Mar-13 16:28:23

Honest answers please.
I've got an interview for a full time job on tuesday. I've really been wanting part time but there doesn't seem to be a lot out there.

One of my concerns, other than spending a fortune on childcare, is that by the time I get home and do tea, it'll will be time to get dd to bed. I'm worried that I won't get much time with her.

I'm a single parent, and exP has hardly anything to do with us. He never takes dd, and we haven't even heard from since before Christmas, which is good, I like it that way, but it means all parenting is on me.

How do find working full time and being a full time parent too? Is it a nightmare, or have you found a way to strike a good work/life balance?

Teddimac Wed 20-Mar-13 19:52:57

Bumping for you sapphirestar - have got this to come quite soon and the logistics seem overwhelming right now!

sapphirestar Wed 20-Mar-13 19:57:32

Thanks Teddimac, I've posted in Chat too hoping for a few more replies. It seems terrifying doesn't it? I really want the job, just very worried about the full time hours/childcare/travelling

holstenlips Wed 20-Mar-13 20:00:50

Hello until recently I worked school hours five days a week and now im about a month or so into full time.
I wont lie im knackered! But work wise its easier as I get to finish jobs I couldnt before. I dont feel as if im rushing so much.
But a lot less time at home (house is quite messy)
My dd age 6 goes to after school club and enjoys it. She seems more tired too though.
Financially I dont really have an option.
If I could have a bit more help with housework and childcare id say its absolutely fine.
I am going to keep at it and hopefully I will find a better routine.

peanutbear Wed 20-Mar-13 20:06:01

It's tiring but doable my children are older now 14, 9 and 6 so childcare is easier but finishing on time can be hard. I love my job though and it's given me a pride in myself. I would found it harder when they were younger to be honest

Tea can be a rush its still in the oven nowhmm

sapphirestar Wed 20-Mar-13 20:08:42

I'm going to see if it has to be full time hours when I go for interview. It's an extra 12 hours a week, plus 1 1/2 hours a day travelling. I think I cope quite well now, and am organised but it would be a huge leap I'm taking.
At the moment I'm going to be unemployed in a few weeks, it's like all or nothing!

Catrin Wed 20-Mar-13 21:17:02

Honestly, it is hard. But you have to lower your standards, make the most of the weekends and just crack on with it.
I find I have a lot less time on the weekend for organising food, eg batch cooking, even shopping sometimes, so do a lot more in the way of easy stuff during the week - dd has school dinners (and as she is only 7 they do fill her up) so I have stopped the guilt if she eats something a bit less dinner -like on an evening.
I will say though, as a single parent, I am so pleased I was able to take it all on myself and did not have to try and get XH to give me money. It is a nightmarish struggle, but as I have no child care, no social life and no energy, it doesn;t matter that I am broke and never go out!

fuzzywuzzy Wed 20-Mar-13 21:23:13

It's exhausting but with military precirison planning and ignoring the small things its doable.

I cook over the weekend and do major cleans and tidies over the weekend.

I do get only a short amount of time with my children on weekdays as we have to do homework and supper and bedtimes at a decent time but we make the most of weekends.

I've also arranged with work to go in early and leave early.

It is hectic and it is tiring. But we make a good team.

FrenchJunebug Thu 21-Mar-13 12:16:33

I am a single parent who works full time. It's hard and tiring but I find it so much more satisfying than being a sahm. I enjoy the company of my child much more.

I cook batches which I freeze in portions so that I only have to reheat in the microwave and the clean and tidies are every two weeks only. Also I get my child to help me.

For it to work your priorities will have to change regarding what's important (ex cleaning, etc) imo.

Go for it. You'll feel better for working and setting a good example for your kid.

betterthanever Thu 21-Mar-13 12:33:15

My DS is almost 8 and I have worked full time and been a single parent all that time.

If I could talk to myself back then knowing what I know now, I would say - the situation keeps changing as the DC needs change. This is a good and bad thing as when things are bad they will get better and when things are good you know you will go through another bad patch.

You can't plan for everything but try. I use Sunday for planning the week and as he now does a lot of out of school activities I get all the things for that out on a Sunday.

If things don't work out for you at first - change them - best laid plans and all that - it is only once you start doing something you can really see if it works for you and better options may some up for you regarding child care or another job etc.

I was aware that early on when childcare costs were higher I would be in effect `working for less' but that time soon passed and the long term future was my main consideration. Having kept my job going I am in a better position now as hard as it was/is, than I would have been had I gone part time or not worked - it is worth it IMO.

I messed up a lot, overdid the unimportant things at times, didn't take care of myself enough but we have got there in the end and I know in a few weeks things will change again.... but I am getting used to that now and don't panic about it (as much).

Get the early nights in the week when you can manage them as other days you will not have time for an early night. As they grow up they stay up longer and you spend more time with them so don't worry if you don't see them much if they are young, they don't notice. Again the time passes quickly.
I like the school dinner ideas above - it saves time on the shopping and the preparing.... and you can never forget to take it with you in a morning.

Main thing - never feel guilty, it is a waste of energy - you are doing your best at all times, life is not perfect for anyone.

purpleroses Thu 21-Mar-13 17:05:08

I've applied for jobs on several occasions which are advertised as full time, and then only if they offer it, have asked if I can do it 4 days a week (or thereabouts). An ex-boss recommended me this approach. Once they've decided they want you, you're in a much stronger bargaining position than you would be if you ask at interview if it can be part-time. And if they do say no, it has to be full time you've nothing lost as the job's still yours if you want it. (whereas if you ask at interview you risk them thinking you're not really serious about it)

The only time I'd mention at interview I want part-time is if they actually ask - and in those cases they're usually open to the possibility anyway.

I work 80%, and find it a lot easier than I would full time. I'm able to spread my hours over the 5 days, and do the school pick up some days.

If you get the job, is there any chance they'd let you work from home, say one day a week? That way you could pick DD up, and make up any work time lost once she's in bed. That can work really well as a single parent. Good luck

sapphirestar Thu 21-Mar-13 21:28:32

Thank you all, I'm feeling much better about the possibility of working full time now. Purpleroses, good idea, probably better not to mention the hours at interview unless they do, thanks.

I wouldn't be able to work from home as it's a bank cashier job but if I got the job, I could ask about flexible working after 6 months or so.

Thank you all for taking the time to write quite detailed answers, certainly given me things to think about and reassure myself. Must try not to count my chickens though!

Fleecyslippers Thu 21-Mar-13 21:44:30

Good luck with the interview smile

I don't work full time hours but work every day and it's really a matter of prioritising and then organising.

Teddimac Thu 21-Mar-13 22:51:19

Good luck sapphire!

difficultpickle Thu 21-Mar-13 23:02:08

Good luck. I've worked full time since ds was 10 months. It is hard and I found it harder when he started school. Fortunately friends with older dcs warned me when I was having a moan about how hard it was juggling work with a baby/toddler.

At his old school ds was the first one dropped off at before school care and the last one collected at after school care every day. He now does flexi boarding which works well and means I don't have to do the mad dash for school drop off or collect interspersed by a commute on a daily basis.

It is hard and you will be permanently tired but as a single parent there is really not much choice. Like others have said, there is no point feeling guilty. Ds knows who his mum is even if I haven't been there at the school gate every day.

NicknameTaken Fri 22-Mar-13 13:33:11

Good luck! I've been f-t, now p-t and am about to go f-t again. I'm a bit nervous about the logistics, but it's just a question of getting into the swing of things. It will all become second nature again very quickly...

drjohnsonscat Fri 22-Mar-13 13:47:20

Hope it goes well for you sapphire. I'm a single mum of 2 and I work full time (9.30 -6). I'm lucky that I have little commuting time but yes it is all a military operation. Like others I cook ahead at the weekend so we can eat quickly together when I get home. And I ignore the small stuff and have no social life! But it's doable and very nearly fun! There are sometimes issues when the DCs are ill but I have some flexibility at work so that helps.

It's not a nightmare - I find it quite empowering actually and I like having another life outside the home and showing the DCs that work is important.

BeCool Fri 22-Mar-13 16:17:50

I work FT and I mostly love it.

I have 2 DC 5 & 1. I work quite close to home which helps. I also have a marvellous childminder who the DC love very much.
My work is flexible and accommodating - they value me even if I do have to dash off at a moments notice from time to time.

Downsides - I am very tired most of the time - this is mostly die to early riser DC (separated since beginning of the year and exP not having any overnights yet). I'm not looking after myself as well as I could - I've put on weight and my health is suffering. So clearly I'm last on my list which isn't sustainable. That has got to change.

My week days are very tightly timed. Once the DC are in bed I could do 1000 things - usually I eat toast and collapse on sofa. This part of my life NEEDS work! Ideally I'd like to do a little exercise, prepare and eat a healthy meal!

My DC both have active lovely days, as do I. We get in about 6.30 after I collect them, hang out for a while (I do dinner twice a week), then bath, cuddles, books, bed etc.

I've always tried to get housework etc all done during the week as I want to spend as much time as I can with DC in the weekend. We have fun, we build memories and we all have a lovely relationship with each other.

Fifimoo Fri 22-Mar-13 20:59:22

I went back to work when DS was 3mo he is now 3.5yr there was alot of trial and error, the main thing was that i made the decsion to get a cleaner which, whilst expensive makes the weekends just for us. By the time we get home, have done, supper, bath, stories and bed and then just about managed to feed myself I am far too tired to even contemplate getting a cleaning cloth out. The flip side is that the house, whilst my saviour does the best she can with the alloted time is a bit of a state, i used to get really really stressed about that, it took three years and I don't any more. Also, as i knew i was going to be on my own, going back to work so early was an easy decision, not that I am anything more than a secretary, but I needed it for our (ok my) sanity. Best advice, do what is best for you and your little one. What works for you will not be someone elses dream idea of how it should be, but you and your LO are a team. I tried to find flexible working last year, but couldn't cover the bills, so FT was the only option, but i am proud of what we acheive together - good luck hope you get the job that you want, once you are in a job you are in a far better negotiating position.

duffybeatmetoit Sat 23-Mar-13 22:16:11

Dd goes to CM after school and has school dinners. I have main meal at work. This means that I don't have to spend time cooking during the week so I can focus on dd.

I don't really have a social life, dd is rarely away at her dad's. Evenings after dd is in bed I try to do odds and ends but it's not much but I do need some chillout time.

Weekends are a balancing act between entertaining my 5 yr old and trying to do shopping/housework/garden.

It's not easy and it's not what I ever wanted to be doing but being able to keep roof over our heads and dd happy and healthy without input from stbxh does wonders for your self respect.

Kiriwawa Sat 23-Mar-13 22:20:58

You've had utterly brilliant advice here which I'm not sure I can add to. The only thing I would say is that at first you may well find that you feel that you're struggling to do anything very well - looking after your DD is going to be compressed and you may feel on occasion that you're dashing out of work to collect her (obviously this depends on the kind of job you do).

It gets easier though, especially if you can remind yourself that you're working to provide your DD with a decent life smile

lilly40 Sun 24-Mar-13 12:30:10

Definately achievable, but look after yourself as it will be tiring for the first few weeks and you and your dd both adjust.
Try and be super organised in the evenings and weekends, it'll pay off. Cook food in large batches, and freeze. You'll be able to get a dish out in the morning to heat up when you get home from work, hence saving time, allowing you to spend quality time with DD.
Also maybe think about a slow cooker. Handy for having a hot meal as soon as you get home from work, and usually with minimal preparation.
Don't feel guilty about cutting corners either, eg. take away meals when your too tired.
Its all about balance, and if you are happy then DD will be too. It'll give you huge confidence being at work full time. Your DD will grow up seeing mummy working hard to provide, and will be enormously proud of you. You'll both be able to enjoy your hard earned cash, and although you may feel exhausted from tiredness some days, others you'll be bounding with energy. Ensure you have a full and varied diet, and also you have enough iron too, as this can help with tiredness.
Good luck and let us MNer's know how you get on x

sapphirestar Sun 24-Mar-13 19:26:45

Thanks all for the realistic and reassuring advice, I will definitely report back when I have news x

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