Is anyone as mad as me? Doing FT Exec job and Single Mum

(26 Posts)
Mumfortoddler Sun 27-Jan-13 21:14:01

Hey folks,

Was just wondering whether anyone out there is a LP with children, I've just taken on a Director position FT and its manic- we leave the house at 7.45 and don't get back until 7pm. My DS keeps telling me he misses me, I only see him for two hours a day, and that is barely quality time. His behaviour has got quite bad with hitting/scratching since I went back to work FT, we also had to move house and he had to move preschool. Will he cope with all the changes? Will I cope with all the changes? Really struggling at the moment after we moved/I started new job/DS started new preschool all in same week and want to know if it will ever get better or if this is all there is to it. I don't think I can manage if it is.He is 3.

At the moment I am so stressed I just want to come home and sleep. Barely eating as constantly on the run all day. My appetite has disappeared from all the stress.

Wondering if I can hold all this down whilst being the FT Director (top honcho). Does anyone do this? Am I the only person crazy enough?

Would love to hear from any other exec mums out there that would like to bang heads. Can't socialise through work because I am the boss. So ruddy lonely too. Just working all the time, everyone thinks I am superwoman, I feel like I am about to break.

xx

cestlavielife Sun 27-Jan-13 23:20:06

What help do you have eg cleaner ? Is he at preschool all day or how do you cover the additional hours? Would a nanny before and after school be better ?
A lot of change but you and he will cope.
What do you do on weekends?
can you relax with him then ?

Not a lp but exec who had an army DH. Even though he's now home as a SAHD ds still had trouble with the switch when I went full on into a high level position. We moved countries, languages and schools too, and walked straight into bullying!

It does get better, slowly you'll get through it.. But you have to think about small changes you could make.

Can you work from home one day every month/fortnight? Put a reminder in your calendar to leave at an earlier time, even once or twice a week. You will feel guilty but do you judge other mums who do this? I don't - I admire my General Manager, who does this - she sets a great example to other women, mums or not.

Take work home, leave at 5, do the evening routine then finish your work at 8pm onwards. Not heavy stuff - I put all those annoying but brainless emails into a folder and answer them with my feet up and a brew at 9pm.

Most mornings are wasted, not quality time - try getting in early so that you can leave early. I never took a lunch break, unless it was to get the supermarket shop, pay the bills etc. I used to see my old boss, who was a LP careering round Sainsbury's before work once a week. She used to keep her food in a cool box in the back of the car! Or if you go to the gym, try going in your lunch hour.

Live on easy cook fresh pasta and bagged salad a few times a week to make life easier. If you don't have a cleaner And you can afford one, I would definitely get one.

Work out your back up plan now - if DS is sick, what will you do? If nursery is closed etc etc. have a back up for the back up. If you have to travel overnight where will he go?

Remember you are doing this to create the best future you can for your ds. As long as he knows you love him and you do spend time together at the weekend you can get through the tunnel. Can you set some reward charts to overcome his behavior issues? Would he understand the process, and that he'd get a special weekend treat with you for good behavior at nursery?

queenofthepirates Mon 28-Jan-13 00:15:34

I did your kind of hours/work life balance/responsibility with a 1yo and I'm afraid it wasn't for me. I hardly saw my kid and missed her terribly. My saving grace was being made redundant so I took the money and transferred my skill set into setting up my own business working my own hours. I now spend most days with my kid, work in the evenings and have a couple of days with her at nursery. I am much happier and so is she (I think!)

If it's possibly and before you break, have a think about whether this is what you really want to be doing and whether you can move your skills into something else more suitable for your lifestyle.

I wish you well.

lix75 Mon 28-Jan-13 15:41:57

Hi, I'm not an exec, only mgr-level but I have a pretty demanding FT job. I leave home at 8:30, do the school run (no time to chit-chat with other mums), and pick up at 6:30pm from childminder. Because of this, I sometime end up working at home late at night. The other issue is business travel, so far I was able to avoid it but I'll have to find a solution soon.. (I'm recently single).

One thing that really helps me is being able to work at home on Fridays so I pick her up a bit earlier and we 'steal' a bit of time. I've also been taking days off here and there, but those are mostly for me. So I'm trying to make the best out of the weekends with her (tip: hire a cleaner if you can afford it).

And dating? What's that? smile

Sorry not being very helpful here. Good luck!

omletta Mon 28-Jan-13 15:45:55

Have you considered a nanny? Might be a better childcare arrangement and your DS may feel more settled, and you less worried and stressed.

I haven't been as senior as you but had a senior management job when DD was younger and I was a LP. The trick is to get your money to work for you.

- Get a cleaner/housekeeper
- Do all your food shopping via Ocado (ideally on a smartphone when you're in a dull meeting.
- Consider an au pair/nanny
- Outsource and delegate everything

But more importantly, work out what really matters to you in life. If it's a career then go for it, don't feel guilty. Go in late one day a week so you can take your DS tp preschool etc. At the weekends, make sure you do things together rather than domestic stuff - go swimming, to the cinema, have friends over. Oh, and have great holidays.

And make sure you have something to look forward to every day - could be a nice meal or something good on TV. Also the best advice I got here was to go to bed really early at least once a week.

lix75 Mon 28-Jan-13 16:22:40

@queenofwhatever I agree with the going to be early, it makes a HUGE difference in my stress level and general mood. Hard to do it but it's worth trying.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 28-Jan-13 17:40:24

I own my own business employing 17 people so not dissimilar position. You have to become quite selfish in the workplace (to be brutally honest) take the whole of your lunch break everyday, take all your holiday, leave on time etc.
I am quite lucky I am a sole trader (self employed) so I use this status to justify my working hours. We work out of hours too so clinical staff get a half day each week in addition to other half days for working weekends and long weekends. I don't take a weekly half day as I do less clinical work however, this Friday I have a long weekend so am declaring myself and extra half day Friday morning,

Mumfortoddler Thu 21-Feb-13 22:44:19

Thanks ladies, cestlavielife would love to hire a cleaner but I am living in one of the most expensive counties in the country so my money goes on the essentials and its not breaking a profit.

I pay my mum to do childminding (full rate eek) plus my son goes to preschool so my childcare amounts to 30% of my take home, rent 50% by the time I have paid bills, shopping at Ocado like QueenofWhatever suggested is a long forgotten luxury.

I work as a CEO of a charity, the pay is not particularly great, but career options means I could double my pay in my next job if I do a good job here.

Have now been in job three months, my son is settling into preschool, and instead of falling into bed I am up working most nights.

queenofthepirates I have been part-time for 3 years with my DS before this, but got to point where I was losing money by working and just couldn't manage anymore, it got me into £2k of debt when I had been debt free because of the changes to support for working single mums.

The cost of taking on the new job was another 4k I didn't have because of the house move, and having to buy new school uniforms and work clothes, some furniture for the house.

Could not even leave if I wanted to as now sitting on 7k of debt again and its a nightmare.

Still miss my boy, sometimes he falls asleep before I get home, I miss him so much.

Gotta keep hanging in there, but I wish it wasn't just Work/Home Monday to Friday. Have no babysitting support around and because my mum is doing childminding now she hates doing babysitting too, so feel terrible asking her and already need her as back up for evenings and weekend work involved in my job.

I do, truly truly love what I do. I just feel a little lonely at the top without work colleagues and since moving haven't had chance to make any friends.

Weekends, in truth, feels like we are just catching up on ourselves now, I would love to try and do more.

elastamum Thu 21-Feb-13 22:59:15

I work full time in a. Snr role and am a lp with 2 DC. Truth is I am working at a lower level now than I should be as I decided to take a step back to have more time with my DC. But my job (management consultant) is still very full on. It took me a while to realise i couldn't do it all. I have now outsourced all my domestic chores to a housekeeper and do all my shopping on line. I don't do business trips that I can delegate and I work from home wherever I can. And I try to get to bed at a reasonable time.

It is exhausting, but I love my job and it pays well, so I just keep going. Good lucksmile

toosoppyforwords Fri 22-Feb-13 12:42:03

Hi, I'm in an exec role (FD of large global company) I have 2 children who are now 6 and 4 and i've been at this level for some years, returning to work when they were both 6 months old...the only difference to you is i am not a lone parent however, feel like one most of the time as my DH is often away and even when he's not works long hours.

For me, the key thing was flexibility. and Work life balance. The job will always be demanding and people will always want something but i really have got to grips with prioritisation, have learnt to say no to people and also accept that somethings just dont get done (hence the prioritisation) I leave the office at 5.30 each day and i make no apologies for this. I make sure that the hours between 5.30 and 8pm each day when the children go to bed are theirs and theirs alone.We chat about their day, do homework, play etc with NO distractions. No email, no phone, no blackberry etc. They all get switched off. I have made it clear to work that this is what i do. When the children are in bed i do often do work in the evenings if i need to.

It is exhausting but it can be achieved. Dont be afraid to say no at work sometimes - just because something has always been done does not mean it needs to continue, just because someone asks for soemthing does not mean you have to provide. Think through what your priorities are, delegate where appropriate, say no to things that aren't important for you and realise you are not superhuman! Learn to let go of things that you cannot control

happyAvocado Fri 22-Feb-13 21:52:35

I think working even one day in fortnight from home would make massive difference to how you feel about the whole situation.
Leaving on time and delegating in time is going to make massive difference as well.
I am LP with 2 teenagers, they get themselves ready for school as I leave home 5:50 and am back by 6 most days. I admit - if they were younger it would have been harder, but I used to have a live in nanny from when they were 1 and 3 for 5 years - that was a blessing! even though I was married ex didn't put much time into running the house, I used to be more exhausted then than I am now

FannyBazaar Sun 24-Feb-13 20:54:48

I try to work from home one day a week (doesn't always happen). I finish early on that day so I can pick up DS, I also start much earlier so I am working before I do the school run, have a break for the school run, come home and have breakfast, quick clean up of kitchen, mop floor, load of washing on, dishwasher on. I work at the kitchen table and whenever I'm waiting for something to load on the computer or on the phone, I hang up washing, empty dishwasher, fold washing etc.

It is a huge pressure release, great to drop the commute and use that time to clean up.

In my previous job I used to finish work early in order to collect DS from childcare and then worked from home for an hour after he was in bed. It worked well for dealing with things uninterrupted and being able to respond to emails that came in from anyone working after 5pm that would otherwise have had to wait until the next day.

If I travel or socialise for work, my DS stays with a childless friend. A sleepover with a friend with children just wouldn't work on a school night.

Sticklebug Sun 24-Feb-13 21:17:46

Not an LP, but similar work situation and to be frank my DH does nothing to do with child care.

I agree with others- use your salary. Cleaner, ocado, nanny ( we have had a great nanny for 7 years now).

Also at weekends do whatever your DC wants - we bake, make mud houses, paint....and then back to the board room.

Don't be ashamed to talk about your DC at work - it makes you human. And a better, more accessible manager

Good luck

Mumfortoddler Thu 28-Mar-13 21:58:54

thanks folks... I hope I can manage it, have been thinking about ways of biding some work from home days, will probably go to my Board in a month or two with some suggestions, just want to get the organisation out of the mess its in first! I've been trying to find a live in aupair so I hope that will solve some of my problems!

I will try out some of your suggestions and see where things get to. I am going to give it a year or two and if it still sucks then I am going to go back to working part time again!

Kiriwawa Thu 28-Mar-13 22:20:46

Ocado really isn't any more expensive than going to Tesco and the fact that you can just reorder your last order and rejig is makes it dead easy.

I was senior and quit because of the work/life balance thing once my DS started school so I do consultancy and am an LP.

You need bloody marvellous childcare (which it sounds like you have but what's your back up plan?) and the facility to be there for most of the stuff your kid really wants you to be there for. Once they start school, that's going in to read once a year, to see their easter egg competition (I'll admit I failed on that score today), watch them in sports day etc. That kind of thing's really important I think as a single parent.

I do have work calls after 5.30 because I couldn't run my business without that level of flexibility. But I also always make sure I have time for me - I am really arsey about having at least an hour a day when I'm not work/housekeeper/cook/parent. I might be online, I might watch telly, I might read or just stare into space. But no one else is allowed to make demands on it.

sailingmummy Mon 01-Apr-13 22:32:31

I'm a single parent of two - 6 and 5 years old, and work full time as a secondary school teacher. During term time it is really hard, as I have to be at school at 8am. My mum and dad live near though and come round to mine at 7.30 to look after the kids and get them to school....I feel guilty about this as they are recently retired and really could do without early mornings!
After school my children either get collected by granny or go to after school club....unfortunately the before school club doesn't start till 8am, so I can't drop them off at that on my way to school...
I generally get home from school at 4.30-5.30, do tea, baths, reading practice etc, make school lunches, prepare tea for the following night (so it can go in the oven on a timer) and then have to do MY school work - marking, planning etc......I rarely get to bed till at least 11-11.30pm...AARGH!!
It is exhausting...I also have to watch myself as I have a thyroid problem which I take medicine daily for, but I'm convinced it doesn't quite make up for my lack of thyroid as i get tired very easily.

The upside of being a teacher though is the school hols tie in with theirs and then I get to be a home mummy....though it's not very relaxing!

princessx Tue 02-Apr-13 16:10:14

Yes I started a senior role (senior for me anyway) in the summer when Dd was 15mths and I was 4 mths pregnant and I was a single mum. We moved countries too so new house and new nursery for dd. it was hard but I just gritted my teeth and got through each day.

I obviously struggled though and an unforeseen consequence was that I was under performing at my job and got put on extended probation. I also didn't make any friends as I was trying really hard to manage my more senior role and couldn't really do lunches (not that anyone asked me!) or spend time chatting. Also people didn't know I was single, so avoided talking about my personal life completely.

But actually dd settled really well into nursery, I did miss her, prob spent about 1hr a day together which was just me getting her dressed/ undressed and giving tea and breakfast. But we started co sleeping and that meant we cuddled all night.

The turn around came when I started really focusing on my work, started doing well and started enjoying it more.

I'm on mat leave now, and went into the job centre recently for maternity allowance and realised I was soooooo glad to have a job.

Good luck and keep posting!

Re the cleaner, I got one mainly because I was pregnant and knew I'd never manage housework too. I got her to just do floors and bathroom and I can do everything else.

Bluepenny Sat 06-Apr-13 21:10:12

It is tough going managing a role at Director level and being a lone parent and all the changes too - I think you're doing brilliantly.

I was in a senior role before and after maternity leave and then took on a Directorship with the same company a couple of years later, which helped as there was already the known LP situation.

Do talk to your MD/CEO about work from home or compromising when the time feels right and you know what would work for you. The weekend "catching up" is familiar and I can remember wandering aimlessly around supermarkets buying food we never got round to eat, just because it had to be done and I was so tired all the time.

I did have a cleaner for the first few years too which helped enormously, but financially I began to wonder if the increased income vs. extra costs of after nursery care, cleaner and gardening chap and hardly seeing DS was worth it. My work-home life balance was tipped so far in favour of work and its 24/7 at that level - emails, phone, work to do at home.

I ended up leaving work altogether after 9 years, as I was getting home after DS 's bedtime - I had a part time home help Grandma who was brilliant, but as DS got older, he hated me not being around and I struggled to balance being out of the house 13 hrs a day (7am-8pm with travel). I felt I never saw DS grow up over those years and have been self employed for the last 3, working during his school hours. It has made such a difference to him and I'm no longer stressed out all the time.

Can a LP have it all? It is without doubt hard work and challenging, but once things settle with all the changes then hopefully you'll get into a pattern that works for you and with a bit of tweaking/compromise from the company and getting a support network in place, you'll know if its the right thing long term.

welcometomysillylife Sun 07-Apr-13 10:16:28

I was in a senior position in my organisation and went back to a promoted role after maternity leave. To be honest, I couldn't sustain the hours and something had to give - my marriage in the end. I am now part-time and it has made all the difference to the quality of my life. However, as time goes on, I am even struggling with that tbh and feel my children need me more and they tell me that (guilt trip.) You can do it if you are superwoman but most of us are not.

flaminhoopsaloolah Sun 07-Apr-13 17:08:29

Hi there...Been an LP, never worked full time (and congrats on the job). I'm sorry I haven't read all of the post but you sound pretty down and wanted to offer support. You've had a lot of changes! Can you work partly from home? Could you give it a few months to let everything settle (this is all very new so takes time to find a groove)? If in a few months it's still not working for you and your DC re-evaluate? At the end of the day, what makes you and your DC happy is THE most important thing. If you decide this position is not for you there's no shame in taking charge and saying "I tried it, it's not in my/our best interests, and I'm going down a different route."

Hugs.

Mumfortoddler Mon 13-May-13 23:51:04

hello its me again

I always come back to this post when the going gets tough! So- tomorrow is my six month anniversary. Its been a tough cookie to crack. I have managed to cost effectively delegate some things- I managed to find myself a very tidy lodger who cleans up --after our mess and hers (and pays for the privilege--blush. She has also agreed to babysit too so I am getting there! I am trying to leave on time now and yes doing some co-sleeping too which is knackering but does give my son a bit more belonging. A killer on the love life smile

I now hire a man to come around and do the lawn, which is my one concession.

Food ordering, I wish I could afford Ocado, really, being a CEO of a charity really doesn't pay that much! We're on Lidl's, BOGOF's and sell offs from Tesco's, so I don't think that is really an option!

Have pondered many times as my DS stares lovingly at me and begs me to pick him up from nursery if I should jack it all in. I don't think I will, right now, but I am definitely aiming to finish all of this in the next 2.5 years. I am giving myself three years (if I don't get sacked first).

I have stepped back a bit more now I am settled, but still finding it gruelling squeezing everything in. Have had a chest infection for 2 months now and still suffering, have had a day off to rest up or two here or there. Its just no time to catch up on yourself. When I am not working I am busting my balls on the chores at home, or being super mummy.

I miss my DS so much, and feel like his development has been stunted by the changes (he has even gone backwards in some areas) sad sad. Would love to set up a school come office where your kids could be schooled next door so you could pop in for lunch with them and read them stories. How cool would that be?

If only someone came along and gave me a million quid. To be honest though I am a glutton for punishment, I would just set up another charity with it, a kick ass one. Charity do gooder nerd ahoy! My poor boy.

Thanks for the words of wisdom, when the tough gets going it does help!

Bluepenny Sat 18-May-13 23:18:11

Good to read your update.

Excellent news on the lodger - what a bonus, I never considered doing that! Grass cutting is one of those onerous jobs and when offloaded, feels great and lovely to have a neat and tidy lawn to look at. Reward without the work!

Your DS is doing what mine did tugging the heart strings with nursery pick ups (though mine did at age 6/7) - hate to say, it was one of the drivers to me leaving my job, but only one of several.

Does the nursery he goes to have online webcams so you can see what he's up to whilst you're in work? I know it's not the same as physically being there, but maybe it'd put your mind at rest he is happy and getting on with his day? I'm in with the school come office idea!

Whilst he's in nursery (as opposed to school), remember to take holiday days off for yourself, but take him to nursery. I know it sounds awful, but just having a day here and there totally to yourself is wonderful. That opportunity disappears when he goes to school, as school hols at 12 weeks or so throws some very big hurdles of childcare to manage!

Treat yourself to small luxuries too - a nice foot cream, obligatory bar of chocolate! I remember asking my parents for a footspa one Christmas and often used that whilst doing work emails in the evening, relaxed feet seemed to help my wellbeing.

Hope the chest infection clears quickly too. xx

MarieinDubai Wed 22-May-13 10:43:10

Mumfortoddler - you are amazing!

Hi Mumfortoddler

I am consultant and thinking of going full time if I can find a real job after being freelance for so many years, so I am finding this thread very eye-opening.

I don't have any advice but I if you would like someone to throw ideas at professionally every few weeks - I would be happy give you an ear for free as I have been looking for ways to lend to hand to others

I am a strategist and have done a fair bit of work in the charity sector in the past. Right now I am on a retainer for a client - so I its really not about money. If you want to chat to see if such an offer would be help, just message me.

Otherwise - best of luck. It sounds like you are pulling it all together!

DD

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