Mothers and travelling away for work

(125 Posts)
Portofino Mon 28-Nov-11 19:57:42

I used to be the main earner. When DH and I both faced redundancy (we worked for same company) he applied for - and got - an inter company transfer abroad. We moved and I found another job quite quickly. But he had been able to negotiate really good terms so his salary overtook mine. He has also been promoted and has to travel quite a bit. His take home pay is about 1/3 higher than mine - but he has greater responsibility.

I have worked for the same - very family friendly - company for the last 5 years. Dd was 2 when I started and is now 7. It has worked very well - DH has been free to travel and I have had lots of flexibility to work round that, leave earlyish to collect dd and work from home in the evening when necessary and when she is sick etc. As DH is 11 years older and only 11 years from retirement age I have been happy to support this - the more he can earn now the better his pension etc.

Recently though I am aware that my career has stalled a bit and I am bored - so I have been looking out for other opportunities. I now have a 2nd round interview with a HUGE company which I am excited about. BUT - this job would involve at least 2 x 2 weeks trips to the US each year and limited travel - maybe once/twice a month in Europe. There will also be evening telecons which might mean I have to stay late - go back to the office.

I feel SO guilty! I have rarely left dd for any length of time. I have been there to collect her from the after school club forever. I have only ever been away from her for a couple of nights at the most. DH does stuff like this ALL the time - I know he doesn't feel bad about it. We can probably co-ordinate MOST of the time so he would be home - but we can't guarantee this. I would probably have to organise some outside help....

I haven't even got the bloody job yet but I feel so torn! Why is so hard for ME to contemplate 2 weeks in the US when I am jealous of DH when he has gone to NY for the same time....I feel like BAD MOTHER for even thinking about it.

mendipgirl Fri 02-Dec-11 09:49:29

I agree with Himalaya, whether DH or I have to work late or travel the childcare "problem" inevitably falls to me to sort out!

Bonsoir Fri 02-Dec-11 09:56:06

I'm not ignoring the issue at all - on the contrary, I am putting my finger right on it wink. I am not suggesting that Portofino's DH starts swapping favours with friends because - guess what? - this is Portofino's thread, not her DH's.

I have a board meeting on Monday which means I cannot do the school run as I usually for DD. My DP sorted the issue - he called his father and asked him to do it. No problem.

Portofino Fri 02-Dec-11 10:05:37

Ahem - I never said I had a problem with childcare - ever! I said that I didn't HAVE any grannies to fly in - my mother died and dh's is ancient. And I also said that I found the idea that I should start making friends with dd's friends parents in order to get free child care distasteful. hmm

I am hopeful - that if I get the job - that DH will try to be more flexible where possible and on the odd occasion where we both have to be somewhere else I will probably rely on friends/paid help.

I posted originally as I it is ME that considers the effect on dd - when she has 2 parents. It is ME that feels guilty at the idea of going away for 2 weeks. DH never worries about such stuff.

I am off to my interview shortly. I was wondering whether to even mention my dd. I think they asked me at the interview for my current job.....And it makes me wonder that a man being interviewed could freely talk about his family without there being any immediate thought that he might need to leave early/take time off - where I bet there is MUCH more of an assumption made about working mothers....

Himalaya Fri 02-Dec-11 10:07:42

good luck smile

elastamum Fri 02-Dec-11 10:07:49

This is definately a feminist issue. There are very few relationships where the organisation of childcare doesnt fall to the female, even if she isnt actually dong it myself.

Am in a similar position. Before I married I had a board level position in a major multinational. Loved it. Then I married and had children. I found juggling my job, childcare and the stress of my husbands new business very difficult. I would be on my way to the US for a week leaving a baby and a toddler with our nanny. My husband was also often away. Eventually I gave up my job to work flexibly in our thriving company. It was MUCH better for our children, as I was around to get involved with school, parties etc, but I was bored.

Then we divorced and in order to support us I went back to employment (at a much more junior, but flexible role) on a much lower salary. And here I am. I am lucky. I am a well paid consultant, I work flexibly from home, have an au pair and a cleaner, travel a bit still, But all the childcare falls to me. My ex goes off on Monday, still prioritises his work and fits seeing our children in around this.

I was offered a much better job last year, but turned it down because I have to put either my children first, or just leave them in the care of au pairs monday to Friday (not much fun for the kids).

But I am bored (hence I am on here). I know I am underachieving and I am probably now considered too old to go back to where I was. I am hoping that when my children are a bit older I might be able to find something more engaging to do.

But I cant imagine many men, even consider the issue of childcare when thinking about employment.

Portofino, If I were you would go for the job and get an au pair.

elastamum Fri 02-Dec-11 10:09:28

DONT mention children at interview. You will jnust raise a whole load of questions they cant ask. Good luck smile

TheRealTillyMinto Fri 02-Dec-11 10:16:19

isnt sorting out childcare another type of wifework?

CMOTdibbler Fri 02-Dec-11 10:21:48

Good luck with the interview !

Portofino Fri 02-Dec-11 10:39:04

If it comes up (these Belgians MAKE all these EU rules then feel free to break them) I shall smile and say "well she does have TWO parents grin

Then afterwards I have to go collect dd from school as due to a HUGE protest march in Brussels today, the garderie staff aren't working and school finishes at 2.30.

<<racks brain to think of the conversation with dh where he asked me how were going to handle that>> Oh yes - that's right - he read the notice from school and never gave it another thought.......wink

Bonsoir Fri 02-Dec-11 13:55:16

Why didn't you just ask your DH to sort it, Portofino?

Portofino Fri 02-Dec-11 14:33:57

Isn't the point rather why should I have to ask him? He read the notice too. It leaves the responsibility firmly with me.

In reality - I planned to work at home today anyway as I had the interview (thanks for the good luck wishes). So it was not a problem for me to collect her early. He didn't know that though.

Bonsoir Fri 02-Dec-11 16:40:30

If you always sort it, how is he to know that you would like him to do it? He isn't a mind reader. I had to ask my DP to sort my childcare for Monday - he doesn't read my diary and work out my commitments... (thank goodness).

Portofino Fri 02-Dec-11 17:59:54

You say it all with "I had to ask DP to sort MY childcare"

I do the school run - it is on the way home. I collect her from the garderie at 5.30pm after being at work.

This is a one off sort of occurrence. It could have been the case that collecting her at 2.30 was impossible for me. Of course I could have asked him. But this is the Feminism topic and my question is why (after both of us reading the same note) the default position is that I have to ask, not even a "Oh - that's a bugger - how are we both fixed for Friday?" The assumption is that I will sort it. Because I am the MOTHER.

Portofino Fri 02-Dec-11 18:00:57

I am not less than busy than him.

elastamum Fri 02-Dec-11 18:16:09

How did it go Portofino?

If this is not a feminist issue I dont know what is. I have stopped work for a bit, done the school pick up, given everyone some tea, now am back at my computer working on a report for monday.

My ex is still travelling and will get back tonight whenever he feels like it. I will do the school run in the morning and he will pick up the children when he is free and then just drop them back here before he goes back to work. I will sort out their uniform, wash their games kit and make sure homework is done. We both work full time. Because of my need to be flexible he now earns far more than I do, although it wasnt like that when we first met.

I do or pay for all our childcare hmm

Portofino Fri 02-Dec-11 20:17:13

It went well - I think. There was a positive vibe in the room with people smiling and laughing. Their interview process was a series of situational questions ie what would you do if..... rather than what are your strengths/weaknesses etc so was good as I could find RL experiences to talk about. Had a really good moment as had already described my secondment writing training manuals for an application which it turns out that they are rolling out through Europe in the next 2 years grin The 2 US people looked at each other and smiled a bit.....

On the downside - I overrun my timeslot so might have waffeled a bit. One of them looked at the clock which threw me a little mid answer....

Portofino Fri 02-Dec-11 20:23:55

Someone was waiting after me to come in, and I know they had interviews already in Rome and the UK as we discussed all the current strike actions..... Well I gave it my best shot. We'll see. I liked them. I would love the job I think. Interview process = all applicants given exactly the same questions....

orienteerer Fri 02-Dec-11 20:54:27

Fingers crossed Portofinogrin

Portofino Fri 02-Dec-11 21:23:30

Thank you! I am worrying now that I overdid my "people skills" given that this a job where I would be the only one in Europe.....so a bit isolated...

Bonsoir Fri 02-Dec-11 21:27:10

Portofino - yes, it was my childcare, since I am the person who takes responsibility for DD every Monday at that time wink.

Foxinsocks Fri 02-Dec-11 22:00:28

Good luck portofino :-) I hope it goes well.

I travelled so much this year I finally qualified for a gold Ba card!

Top tips - enable your dc to do FaceTime (or Skype or similar). That way when you are away they can still talk to you and see you and as long as you have wifi in the hotel, it isn't going to cost you any more than that.

Dc need you more emotionally as they get older I find. When I've travelled I make sure I have proper one to one time with both my dcs - proper catch up, uninterrupted time.

Dh (who also works FT and travels) sorts all childcare out when I'm gone and likewise I sort it out when he isn't here. Our only complication is that he works weekends so I need to be back by Saturday as weekend childcare virtually impossible to arrange.

We work as a team. Tbh, I do believe if you both work ft and travel, it's the only way to do it!

(and Candy - all the senior men at my work have SAHWs too!)

SardineQueen Sat 03-Dec-11 19:05:16

Sounds like it went well - let us know how you get on - I have my fingers crossed for you! smile

Pantofino Sat 03-Dec-11 19:32:06

Thank you! Should find out by the end of next week. We'll see. I guess getting to interview stage for these things is a big deal. I did feel I was a good fit for the role so hope I didn't bugger it up grin Depends on the competition I suppose. <<wonders if you they let you fly business class to US>>

Portofino - apologies for resurrecting an old thread, but I am facing a similar dilemma as you had this time last year.

Did you get the job in the end, and if so, how did you / are managing the childcare issue ?

I have just returned from maternity leave into a new role and it is becoming clear to me that to do it justice, I will need to travel within Europe 2-3 times per month, to US maybe 3 times per year.

DH has an extremely demanding job which involves long hours / weekend work. Like yours, he could juggle his schedule to accommodate some travel, but not all*. We have no family close by who could help out.

Would love to hear your experience.

* and I agree wholeheartedly that this is a feminist issue !

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 28-Nov-12 07:50:45

Melanie, I'm glad you resurrected it as it's a really interesting read. Are you in the UK?

How much control would you have over the trips and how long would they need to be each time? Could you eg fly out on a Sunday night, DH drop your child at childcare on Monday and work a short day so he can pick the child up too, then he drops off on Tuesday morning and you get back in time to pick up whilst he works late.

Have either of you requested flexible working?

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