Working parents, how do you do it?

(46 Posts)
BangOffTrend Mon 01-Oct-12 20:32:53

I'm currently a SAHM but thinking of returning to some form of work, if someone will have me after 4 years at home. 3 DC aged 6, 4 and 2. DH out of house from 7h30 to 19h30.

Can it be done without being driven mad with stress, your relationship breaking down and life being generally totally rubbish? The good food, the homework, the after school activities, the cuddling and chatting, the adult time, the washing, the everything... Just how do you manage?

Goldenjubilee10 Mon 01-Oct-12 22:37:07

I wouldn't do it if I didn't have to. I work full time and ds3 6 goes to after school club (the other two let themselves in). By the time I pick him up, cook the dinner, eat, see to homework, bath, bed I'm ready for bed myself. I spend the weekend juggling swimming lessons and entertaining ds's and mumsnetting doing housework. There are never enough hours in the day and I am constantly tired.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 01-Oct-12 22:43:38

My DH changed his job to ensure we had complementary working hours. He does mornings and drop offs, I do pick ups and early evenings. He does sports days and assemblies, I do holidays (teacher).

It isn't helpful for one person to have non-negotiable working practices when as a couple you are making a big change like this.

And we have a cleaner.

LiegeAndLief Mon 01-Oct-12 22:47:46

When you say "some kind of work", what hours are you thinking of? Dh works full time and is out from 8-6:30. I work part-time, three days in the office 9:30 - 14:30 and approx six hours a week from home, which is done in the evenings. Two dc aged 3 and 6.

This is really pretty managable. Dc are in school/pre-school while I'm at work. I do all drop-offs and pick-ups, all cooking, vast majority of housework, vast majority of logistical sorting of after schooll activities/friends/homework etc. Two evenings a week he does all bath/bedtime/clearing kitchen and I work for approx 3 hours. This bit is knackering but nowhere near as hard as when dd was much younger and not sleeping at all!

I think I have the best of both worlds really, although I'm always feeling guilty about dd being in preschool 3 days a week and about not having enough time to do my job to the best of my abilities. I think a bit of guilt is inevitable whatever you do.

purpleroses Mon 01-Oct-12 22:54:06

Do what you can to get things local - the job, the school, the childminder or nursary. If you manage this, then it's doable. But if you decide that the job you want is in one place, the best school in another, and the only nursary with spaces is somewhere else again, you're going to struggle. If your school doesn't have an after school club, then choose a childminder for your 2 year old, and she can get the others from school too. That makes life easier (and nice for the kids to be together).

Personally I preferred to work 3 days a week when DD was pre-school as that still gave time to do stuff together. Now she's school age I do 4 days a week. Think I'd struggle with 5.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 01-Oct-12 22:56:19

I really don't feel guilty.

It's not inevitable.

LiegeAndLief Mon 01-Oct-12 22:59:31

Ah sorry FallenMadonna, I think what I should have said was guilt is inevitable for me - I seem to have spent the last 6 or 7 years feeling guilty about something ever since I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant shortly after a rather drunken Christmas.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 01-Oct-12 23:01:39

That's no way to live!

Really - I can't be doing with the guilt. And I'm a Catholic... wink

LiegeAndLief Mon 01-Oct-12 23:06:23

I know, I know - I think it's inhereited. My mother is a chronic worrier. When she had nothing better to worry about she actually used to lie awake at night worrying about Michael Jackson hmm

I'm very envious of dh who manages to never feel guilty about anything at all!

TheFallenMadonna Mon 01-Oct-12 23:10:57

Again you see, that is absolutely the key issue for me. You should never feel any more guilt than the other parent. Never! One partner does not get a free pass on the issue of work/family balance.

Born2bemild Mon 01-Oct-12 23:11:40

We manage by having me start earlyish and finish early, then work in the evening. Dh starts and finishes later. We have no cleaner etc. Organisation is everything. Yes it is much harder work than when one of us is home, but it is fine if it is what you want.

LadyWidmerpool Mon 01-Oct-12 23:18:49

Low standards!

Arseface Tue 02-Oct-12 00:14:03

DH and I both work full time and have 2DCs - 3 and 11 - and twins due next year.
The reason this isn't an utter hamster wheel is because we can both arrange our own workloads so can work from home, remotely, evenings etc.
Only possible because we have built up a level of expertise in our fields which let us call the shots somewhat. Have had some battles at work to get here though!
No paid domestic help yet, apart from nursery 2.5 days a week, but engaging dog walker/gardener and mother's help in honour of DTs arrival.

The best advice I have (in order of importance) is to:

Ensure you are both equally domestically responsible (be prepared to ram this point home with schools/nurseries/clubs!)

Communicate well and be prepared to change things if either parent is unhappy,

Make sure you are doing most of the things you enjoy - I like gardening with the children, DH finds serenity at the bottom of the ironing pile.

Involve the DC with chores and responsibilities. Make sure they are rewarded for chores and get fun responsibilities as well as shitty ones. Give them proper jobs they can have ownership and pride in and start young!!!.

Divvy up the bits everyone hates and set a time once a week to blitz them.

When it all goes tits up, be congenitally unable to keep a straight face!

Online family diary synced with phones/tablets and outlook accs, internet grocery shopping, childcare you trust and your children actively enjoy and friends with kids the same age rate a very grateful mention too.

Jinsei Tue 02-Oct-12 00:38:29

I work FT but have flexible hours, DH also works flexibly and my parents help (but we managed before they moved and they weren't at all local before, so it is do-able without family support). We only have one dd (7).

Batch cooking solves the food issue, alongside having a repertoire of nice healthy meals that don't take long to prepare (I find fresh fish is dead easy). Curry freezes well and tastes better when it's been prepared in advance. smile

After school clubs can be managed with a bit of organisation/planning - dd currently does something most days. It can be helpful to befriend other parents at clubs so that you can share lifts/take turns etc. I usually do my weekly shop while dd is at one of her many dance classes, so use the time while I'm waiting.

We have resisted getting a cleaner so far but the house is a bit of a tip at the moment, if I'm honest, so might need to reconsider that. Everyone has to chip in with stuff in the house, or it won't get done - we have a rota in the kitchen. But you may also need to let your standards slip a bit. Decide what you can live with, and what you can't. For example, kitchens and bathrooms need to be clean for me, but I don't worry about a bit of clutter in the sitting room.

Ironing rarely gets done in this house. Life's too short. grin I do a load of laundry each day, load it the night before and put it on timer for when I get up, so I can hang it out before going to work.

DD does her homework while I'm getting the dinner etc, she's pretty self-sufficient and doesn't need much help, but she usually gets a week or so to do it, so there's always the weekend for bigger projects.

We have a big family calendar in the kitchen with everything on it. Also a google calendar that can be shared electronically - I have it on my phone.

It's hectic, certainly, but easier if you're organised and really, life isn't shit at all. I like having my own identity at work, earning my own cash etc. And I think it's good for dd to see that it is possible to combine a good career with being a good mum.

Oh, and we always have plenty of time for chat and cuddles. smile

If you want to work, OP, go for it - good luck!

Kiwiinkits Tue 02-Oct-12 01:01:22

You have to think outsource, outsource, outsource. Not possible to run three children and a job without help. Get a cleaner, and an in-home 'mother's help' or nanny if you can.

EmptyCrispPackets Tue 02-Oct-12 01:12:06

I work shifts (midwife) and do around 30hrs per week with 1 on call 00:00-9am don't always get called in but mandatory part of job. I find shifts tiring as I could be working a night or two then onto early late a few days later. DP works days so not so bad.

I've 2 children, and am 35 weeks preg with 3rd. I manage by being super organised with meals etc, make up meals x 2 and freeze second meal for when I'm late in or not here, clean as we go and all chip in here and there. Only thing I don't do is ironing as I detest it. Generally have a big clean up once a week, Saturday am if we're both here.

I'm looking forwards to stopping work in a few weeks but then the hard work will really begin!

EmptyCrispPackets Tue 02-Oct-12 01:13:32

On I use breakfast clubs and a lady in the village does after school if there are no clubs on after school. Lucky in that DP finishes work 4:30/5 most days.

emmyloo2 Tue 02-Oct-12 07:46:48

Both my DH and I work full time with one DS almost 2. We both work quite stressful jobs. I am out of the house from 8.30-8.45am until around 5.45pm. My DH is similar. We have in home help through combination of grandparents and a nanny.

It's quite manegable - we have a cleaner. I don't cook much - don't have time. Weekends we try and keep low key so we can relax. I basically have very little downtime though. By the time we put our son to bed and eat dinner, tidy up, it's time for bed. However, that's life right? I need to earn an income just as much as my husband - I see it as my responsibilty, so for me there are no other options.

Pudgy2011 Tue 02-Oct-12 18:21:31

Both DH and I work full time, me from 8am-5pm and DH from 7.30-whenever he finishes, 6 days a week but he is on a contract basis and makes his own hours - 1 year old DS is in daycare 5 days a week.

We're both in highly paid jobs and have a cleaner once a week. I grocery shop, do laundry and run errands on Saturday mornings with DS whilst DH is at work and Sundays we have a day together seeing friends or going to the beach etc.

Having said all this, we live offshore on a small island and daycare, work and home are all within 2 miles of each other so we don't have to worry about a commute so live is spectacularly easy compared to those of you who have to commute.

We have two large dogs to walk so the one thing I insisted on was a cleaner and this is such a relief to have this option. With two large hairy moulting dogs, we still end up hoovering twice a week but the baths and toilets are clean and the sheets are washed. Its a luxury that I never take for granted!

DH and I have a fantastic relationship but I think this is more because we pull our fair weight around the house so resentment doesn't build. If I'm getting baby ready for bed, DH will do the dishes or stick the laundry in the dryer. I'm currently marathon training and run at night after baby goes to sleep so DH does the dinner but generally speaking we take it in turns to do meals depending on if one of us is working late or training.

Also being a little relaxed about things does help, if the dishwasher doesn't have to be emptied that evening, or the laundry doesn't have to be folded, then leave it until the next day.

Pudgy2011 Tue 02-Oct-12 20:57:20

Re-read my post and I don't like how it sounds. Just to clarify, I know how lucky we are, our situation is not a woe is me one, we are very grateful for our lifestyle and I would never complain.

I think those back in the UK who work full time and have to commute, do the school run, and run a house have it far harder and it takes so much more effort to organise. I greatly admire anyone working F/T and running a house.

sundancegirl Tue 02-Oct-12 21:52:13

It's good to hear how people manage.
I'm currently working school friendly part-time hours, but really can't afford to forever and looking for more fulltime work. Hoping to still be able to get the kids from school 2 days a week, but otherwise will be relying on breakfast clubs and afterschool care with DH doing the pick-ups.
Starting to feel guilty about it already!
The bit I'm worrying about is the homework/teatime shift.
How do you cope? Especially when you're not home in time to do it?
(I do realise the DH is perfectly capable, but seem to have trouble letting go!)

It can be done, but needs a lot of organisation, and your partner needs to be on board and aware that he needs to pick up half the housework, night waking, childcare outside work hours etc.

Outsourcing cleaning would be a fantastic help if you can afford it (we can't, but we manage).

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