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?

forgottenpassword Mon 01-Oct-12 20:43:05

I have 3 DC slightly younger than your 3.
I am out of the house 8 till 8 every day (except Fridays when i work from home). Dh is out 7.30 till 6.30. I am lucky enough to be very well paid so it makes sense for us. BUT we have to have a nanny and a cleaner who does all the ironing etc too or we would spend all of our precious weekend time with Dc on housework. It is stressful but financially worth it in the short term at least. Also though not as pleasurable as being a Sahm for me personally, it is much less hard work being in the office.

AllPastYears Mon 01-Oct-12 20:45:44

Just don't get a job with the same hours as your DP - you will go mad! grin Seriously though, I've done both and part-time is so much easier. If you're both full-time, evenings are very short and filled with cooking, washing, baths and grumpiness all round. Also, what childcare will you use? If you have to drop off/pick up that adds on to your day and doesn't look like your DH will be able to help.

A friend once said to me that it doesn't really matter what you do at your job - all that matters is where it is and what hours you do (to that I'd add, how much they pay you!) It's nice to have job satisfaction, sure, but with 3 kids to work around I would basically agree with her.

AllPastYears Mon 01-Oct-12 20:46:42

forgottenpassword, you must be exhausted!

TheBeanAndTheBee Mon 01-Oct-12 20:47:32

Watching with interest. Have just gone back to work after almost 3 years as a SAHM. Our first weekend of both of us being at work full time was taken up mainly with washing and doing all the chores I used to do during the week. If anyone has any tips, even little things, I would love to hear them!

LadyStark Mon 01-Oct-12 20:51:41

I only have one DD and we mostly manage ok.

Cleaner, good childcare, being organised and a flexible employer helps - DP and I do drop off/pick up at one end of the day each and pick her up straight from school on alternate Wednesdays. We make sure she has school lunch so supper can be something light, or I cook a big portion of something at the weekend and make it last.

I think we have a pretty good balance but I am mostly knackered. Although I felt like that when I was at home too! I think it's the lack of lie-ins!

LadyStark Mon 01-Oct-12 20:55:11

I would recommend outsourcing everything you can afford to, get a cleaner, use a dry cleaner, get an ironing lady etc.

Don't put yourself under too much pressure at weekends to do exciting stuff, more often than not we are all happy with chilling out, park and seeing family.

Be organised! We use outlook calendars to organise time, pick ups, who is out when, what chores need to happen etc.

Flossiechops Mon 01-Oct-12 20:57:39

No it cannot be done without being driven mad unless you have a lot of help like the above poster. Do you really want to have to employ people to run your life whilst you work? Money is great but god it's not everything. I talk from bitter experience as a working mum who feels torn between needing to earn a salary and raising her children. My dh is being driven to distraction looking after the dc whilst I'm at work during the evening (I'm a nurse), this has caused friction between us over the past few years. I earn 3 times more than what I used to but I've never been more unhappy with my quality of life. Don't do it, unless your desperate, enjoy your children they are only little for such a short time.

AuntLucyInPeru Mon 01-Oct-12 21:02:23

Excellent nanny, 2hrs prof cleaner/ironer a day, Ocado, dry cleaners that pick up and drop off from the office; on-call handyman; DH who does as many pickups and drop offs as I do; online gmail family diary synched with iPhones of nanny/DH/I 24/7.

jumpyjan Mon 01-Oct-12 21:05:32

I have 2 DC age 5 and 3 and I work full time. DH works full time also (though not as long days as your DH). We cope fine, not saying I wouldn't love to have more time in the day but we manage. We are v organised, pack lunches made night before, school bag emptied and letters/ birthday invitations dealt with same day, healthy quick tea cooked for children, DD does her spellings/reading before bathtime, children bathed and have a couple of books before bedtime - DH and I have meal together and bottle glass of wine and chat about our days (the bit before all of this is rather full on and its difficult to say more than hello to each other!).

We make use of breakfast and afterschool clubs which seems to work fine, the youngest can be a bit tired some days after we pick him up though.

Its not easy but I genuinely believe everyones needs are met. Good food and prompt bedtime is a priority as is DH and I talking and eating together once DC's asleep.

I think the only downside is that I don't get much time to myself (neither does DH) as when I am not at work I feel I should and want to spend my time with the DC's.

Good luck with looking for work if thats what you decide to do.

FergusSingsTheBlues Mon 01-Oct-12 21:07:57

I hate it. I dont see my son enough. Im really well paid which makes the dilemma worse, but, no, i think its destructive to our family life and i resent it.

TheMonster Mon 01-Oct-12 21:10:05

We leave the house at 7.30am and return at 6pm. It is manageable and we make the most of weekends. Washing, shopping, cleaning has to wait until the weekend usually as I work at home in the evenings too.

Hassled Mon 01-Oct-12 21:13:09

Online shopping and batch cooking - never, ever make one meal's worth of, say, bolognese sauce when you can multiply the ingredients and have some meals in the freezer.

Make the most of bath times, make the most of the walk/drive home. You can still get the chatting time. And yes, have very low expectations re what you will achieve/do at the weekends outside the house. Don't make overly ambitious knackering plans for the weekend.

It is hard - I've had a long break and am only just finding my feet having returned to proper work rather than bits and bobs of PT stuff.

barristermum Mon 01-Oct-12 21:21:07

I've worked full time since dd was 4mths and I love it. My job doesn't allow for part time and it's too fulfilling and vocational to have abandoned or left for a large gap.

Excellent childcare is non-negotiable, supportive partner helpful and if affordable a cleaner who irons is heaven-sent.

I like my dd seeing her mum go out to work hard at a job I love. My aspirations are not wholly centred on her achievements and my dh sees my need to work outside the home and supports it as I do him.

FionaOJ Mon 01-Oct-12 21:29:53

Hi, I don't know if I am a SAHM/WOHM really! I am at home with my dd everyday, except Sat + Sun when she goes to her dads. I work 2 evenings a week, usually 6-12, then I work 9/10 hour shifts on Sat and Sunday. My dp works 12-14 hour shifts 5 days a week so we are lucky if we get one evening a week together. It's hard but worth it.

Advice would be, take any offers of free childcare from family/close friends. Cook quick, easy meals for the children. Fish fingers won't kill them every now and then. Try and eat together, just you and dp, once a week with a glass of wine or 2 and a DVD. Easier said than done though!

LadyStark Mon 01-Oct-12 21:30:52

I agree with poster who said hours are important. I am home by 5:30 two days per week, 6:30pm the other two and either 3pm or 5pm on a Wednesday and we don't leave until 7:45am. With a little one who goes to bed early, if I did much longer hours I would not see her. DP and I both very strict with leaving the office on time (will work after bed of necessary).

FionaOJ Mon 01-Oct-12 21:31:45

Forgot to add, dd goes to nursery 3 mornings a week, for 3 hours. That's when I do housework, online food shop etc. Or sleep! Don't feel guilty for a mid day nap on your day off!

BackforGood Mon 01-Oct-12 21:41:23

I think it depends on a lot of things - one of the most important being how long you would be out the house. We've always both worked outside the home, but we're both in jobs that enable us to be home by 5.30 (can do work later when they are in bed). If you have to be out for a long day, then it will be very, very difficult, and, tbh, that time when you pick them up at 5 is the hardest time when you've come in from work and are trying to deal with 3 tired children, as well as getting the dinner on, drawing the curtains, checking the book bags, listening to what they are saying to you, etc. I think I would resent the fact I'd done all the work if my dh didn't get in until 7.30.
Of course, if you can afford nannys and cleaners, etc., then it would be a different story.

Viviennemary Mon 01-Oct-12 21:41:45

I think you would be very brave indeed to contemplate a job with three children so young and your DH working such long hours. One child I found not too bad working full time, two children not possible without me getting totally stressed. But everyone's different. You may be the type of person who just juggles it all beautifully.

Viviennemary Mon 01-Oct-12 21:42:27

I think you would be very brave indeed to contemplate a job with three children so young and your DH working such long hours. One child I found not too bad working full time, two children not possible without me getting totally stressed. But everyone's different. You may be the type of person who just juggles it all beautifully.

FairyPenguin Mon 01-Oct-12 21:54:53

My DH works similar hours to yours. I work part time and have 2 DC, one at school, one at nursery. We have a cleaner for 3 hours a week (cleaning and ironing), meal plan for the week to make sure we get quick meals the nights we are late home or need to get out again for swimming lessons, get milk delivered 3 times a week, shopping delivered once a week. Pack all bags the night before and leave in hallway, make packed lunches night before ready to take out of fridge.

We have some clubs on the weekends, so DH can help/take part but also so it's less stress on me during the week. However, we have had to give up one after school activity already this school year as I just couldn't handle the time pressures of getting 2 children from 2 places after work, feeding them and ferrying to yet another location for more than 2 nights a week.

If you have friends with children going to the same clubs then maybe you can take turns taking the children. Build up a selection of quick meals to cook, takes the stress out a lot for me. We batch cook meals such as chilli or bolognese and freeze them.

MrsWajs Mon 01-Oct-12 22:00:09

I only have one DD (18mo) and a DSS (4yo) who stays at weekends. I work 30 hours a week (shifts) and DP is self employed and can work around 50 hours a week. I don't have a cleaner or a nanny and I am basically knackered most of the time! I wish I could work less but financially we can't afford it so it's just the way it has to be for now.

I work part time. That's how! But remember that if you do work part time, your DH needs to agree to do more of the housework. You can't do everything you currently do and also work p-t.

forgottenpassword Mon 01-Oct-12 22:24:20

Definitely the more help you can get the better. If you have to do all the housework yourselves on top of both working full time you will not be happy. The key is to make sure the time you do have as a family is quality time. That helps to alleviate the guilt most of us feel about not being at home full time.

happybubblebrain Mon 01-Oct-12 22:34:24

I only have one dd. I went back to work when she was 11 months old and worked full-time for four years. Last year I decided it was too hard trying to do the housework at 11pm after a very long day, especially as I don't have any support from anybody. So now I work 4 days a week and have one day to catch up with everything. I'd love to say it was financially worth it, but it isn't as I'm on a low income inspite of having a masters degree, 3 diplomas, lots of A-levels etc.

I am a bit knackered. I should be fed up, but I actually like hard work most of the time. DD is very happy and doing very well. I won't complain too much. I certainly wouldn't say life is rubbish, a little bit of free time would be great though.

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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