Career and children and husband(36 Posts)
I'm not totally sure what I want to get from this thread - I think I just need to rant a bit and see if anyone else out there feels the same way I do, if I may?
I recently read the KPMG Cracking the Code report (www.kpmg.com/UK/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Pages/cracking-the-code-research–behavioural-differences-in-the-workplace.aspx) after it was linked from the Justine-shouldn't-have-said-that thread in AIBU. One bit (among lots of good stuff) particularly resonated with me - that women's careers can often have a slower burn to them in terms of the person's ambition. Women are less likely then men to start out intending to get to the top, but such ambition builds over time.
So it was with me. I joined my current workplace almost straight from uni in a standard graduate role. It took me seven years to achieve my first promotion (most of that time I was very unsure if I'd ever leave the coalface, or even how much I wanted to), but only five to achieve my second - and that was with two lots of 9 months maternity leave within those five years, and working between 25-32 hours per week for the whole of it, vice full-time as before. The second promotion partly came about because I was lucky in finding a team that really wanted me and could use my skills best at the higher grade, but mainly because I went on a big ZHOOOOOOM (that's a technical term) of personal development over that period and...well, got a lot better at lots of things, basically.
So, after the second promotion I was left thinking ok, I've achieved middle management. I have maybe 30+ years work left in me before I retire. Do I want to spend the whole of that time at my current level or do I want to try and move even higher? I think I want to move higher, actually. How much further might I be able to get? I want to find out! So I'm now more ambitious than ever and trying to do as much as I can to develop my skills even further in the relevant areas.
I'm still working part time (28 hours, hoping to go up to 32 soon if childcare arrangements change). I'm bloody fed up of it. I've done it for five years and I'm very frustrated at not being able to do more and develop faster. I also need to travel as part of the job (on average one night away every couple of months, though it's been more lately as I did some training). This is generally possible with enough notice, but sometimes there is huffing from DH as he claims I haven't consulted him when planning travel even though I blatantly have and he's just forgotten...
Separately, I also struggle in my days at home - my two boys are lovely and generally good, but toddler wrangling (plus before and after school care of Reception child) is stressful and tiring and generally unrewarding and I worry it's not doing them much good being with me sometimes. On bad days I just about manage to keep them safe and fed but I spend a lot of the rest of the time crying.
Here's the rub. DH has always worked full time. He doesn't want me to go full-time as it would mean using more childcare, and he doesn't think children should be away from their parents that long. Apparently his job is too important and they are too short staffed for him to consider going part time, even though we both work for the same large employer that is generally very good at accommodating flexible working requests (he's also the better paid out of the two of us, though as I've pointed out to him, this differential would be much smaller if I was working more and ascending the pay ladder faster). A few weeks ago I had a bit of a meltdown and begged for us to find a way to change things as it is sending me crazy (I had horrible PND after DS2 btw); between us we couldn't find any way that would allow me to go full time or do more travel, but he has started doing sole childcare one pm/evening a week so I can stay late at work - this is making a huge difference to me. But that seems to be the limit of what we can achieve.
Am I being totally unreasonable and selfish in feeling this way? Should I just try and can it until the children are older and everything's a bit easier? Please don't slag DH, he's amazing in just about every way except that I just don't think he quite understands how crazy it's sending me that out of the two of us, it only seems to be my career that has suffered through having children - at the time we took the decisions I was happy to do the long maternity leaves but since the horrible experience second time around and the promotion at work, I'm just so OVER the whole bloody thing it's not TRUE. It just doesn't seem FAIR. Is there anything else I can say or do to try and make myself feel better?
Oh fuck, sorry for the length, thanks if you got to the end
To answer your question, no. Nothing will make you feel better about that fact that the person who is supposed to be your partner isn't supporting you. It's a bit fucking rich for him to say he doesn't want the children to be in more childcare when he refuses to be the one to take up the slack.
Weve got possibly what you might prefer. We also preferred the child not to be in ft childcare, and both went to four days a week. Although there is possibly more pressure on DH to go full time (different employers) I'm the one more likely to want to go to ft (I'm certainly the one has worked more of my days off in the three years we've been doing this). The pros are enormous - we had similar home and work experiences. However, we are now both stuck in the career rut and are both 'trapped' in our current employers as realistically no jobs are ever advertised four days a week, and certainly not ones which would justify the move.
Yeah. I may even have said to him "I'm the one suffering because of your not totally logical ideas about childcare". But apparently nothing can be done differently and sometimes you just have to make sacrifices for your family. Again, I have pointed out that he is welcome to do two lots of pregnancy, childbirth, 6m+ exclusive bf (I'm not saying I want a medal for that or anything, just that it was hard and something only I could do, and it meant I couldn't leave bottle refuser DS2 during the day for months on end) and 9m mat leave, five years' part time work and THEN come back and give me his considered views on which of us has made the most sacrifices for our children. But nothing I say really seems to get through and I just end up feeling like a whiny cow who wants everything her own way.
Any ideas on what else I could say to him that might help him understand better? As I say, he's generally an absolutely tremendous husband in every way, he just can't seem to see how I feel on this. That and he feels trapped in his job - he doesn't feel his boss would look favourably on a request to work part time and he feels he'd be dumping his colleagues in the shit picking up the slack. Again, I have pointed out that this is his employer's problem not his, but it's not that easy when you're the one there, is it.
In fairness, I should point out that he has offered to work a compressed week so he can take one day off to do the day's childcare I currently do, but I just can't see this working. He'd have to get up stupidly early and go to bed stupidly early every single day, give up playing sport twice a week (I get equal opportunity to do my stuff btw, I go to the gym when the DC are in bed) and just generally have no life. The way I feel doesn't seem bad enough to have to justify that.
Four days a week childcare would solve 90% of the issues for me. At present we do 3, one day with me and one day with other family. The nursery bill is eye watering but my earnings comfortably outstrip it.
I've written 2 different responses and deleted them - this is really raw for me too, as at the beginning of the year I had to turn down a really good job offer when it DP said that he couldn't/wouldn't accommodate any changes to allow him to take some responsibility for the kids dropoffs/pickups.
Luckily I found something freelance, for more money, that's letting me work full time and still drop the kids off at school/get them from (awesome) childminder, but the respect for DP is leaking away, and I don't want that - but when I'm holding down a job earning as much as him, and looking after the kids, and keeping the house and garden tidy, doing DIY, and sorting out all the paperwork while he does a couple of token bits poorly then I start to wonder if the occasional pleasure of having him around balances out the extra demands on my time having him around makes.
It's not fair. DP should do more. Your DP could do more. You are not being selfish, you are the only one seeing that there's even something selfish going on - you care about the kids, you care about yourself, you want the same from everyone else in the family, you're not being unreasonable, you're asking for adequate support.
I am in a similar situation, although I work full-time. But it's me that leaves works flexible hours so I can leave at 4pm three days per week, it's me that misses team lunches to cram in my hours, it's me that doesn't stay late/go for drinks because I am the default parent for the children.
My DH and I both have demanding jobs, where you are never going to get the best projects and promotions by working just enough hours with half your brain planning a village hall birthday party. I have made my peace (mostly) with the fact that it'll be my career that takes the hit, because If we both went part-time, or we both tried to plan parties from our desks, both our careers would flat line. So it makes sense for it to be just one person that takes the hit, for the greater financial good of the family. I wouldn't ask DH to be the one to ease off at work because he doesn't care about the same things for the kids as I do, so I'd be constantly frustrated that he is earning less yet the kids still don't have their party/swimming lessons/make moon sand after school.
Good luck finding your balance. It's not easy, and I'm not sure there is a way to really have it all
Am I right in thinking you wouldn't actually feel that more time in childcare would be problematic for the children? If so, I think you need to take back control here. You need, for your career and your mental health, to work more and be at home less. You can, as a couple, fund the childcare necessary to do that. Therefore if rational argument isn't working and he can't see how unfair the current situation is on you, just do it - book the childcare and up your hours. And if he really feels it's not fair on the children, he needs to negotiate the issues at work so that he can be around more (by doing a compressed week or going part-time). It's his call if he wants to lose his hobby time rather than dropping hours at work. Because fundamentally, he's assuming it's your job to look after the children, and that isn't on.
As an aside, have you thought about a nanny? It sounds as though you could afford it, and it would give you one consistent carer plus more flexibility than a nursery. And it would make it much, much easier when school holidays come round.
My DH also expected me to take a back seat career wise. I said in that case I wanted a divorce. He changed his mind.
I know my approach looks drastic, and isn't great for your relationship. But it frankly doesn't sound as though the current situation is doing much for your relationship either: the resentment you're feeling wil really affect it, however much you try not to let it.
Essential to our relationship is the respect that we have for our home and work situations. We also shared parental leave. I wasn't prepared to let all the sacrifices be mine. I know you don't want to hear it, but it sounds like your DH doesn't respect what you need or want. And that is surely a start of resentment?
for you Puntastic. You aren't being a whiney cow AT ALL and it's very clear from the information you've given that your DH seems to expect to mandate your work and home life without compromising his own.
I'm not in a great place myself right now, and to be quite honest I wonder whether life would be easier if nobody had invented feminism. They I could say to you something like hun, your bubs need their mama, men just are wired differently, and scatter sparkles all over your thread.
But I can't.
Both you and your DH are being influenced by your socialisation IMO. Him to think of childcare as ultimately your responsibility not his, and you the same. It's a really hard pattern to break. I'll give you a little example from my own life: we used to both be on the junior school email system, for some inexplicable reason they've taken me off and it's taken me until now to notice. In the two months of school, NOT ONE thing has been written on the calendar from the newsletters. EVERYTHING has been forgotten and overlooked. This has highlighted to me that despite DH doing packed lunches and morning school runs in a supposed 50:50 responsibility arrangement, he regards himself as a Lieutenant to my General when it comes to domestic duties. He will do the things he knows about and has agreed to, willingly. He probably hasn't even realised that most of the actual work goes into the constant vigilance and planning and monitoring. It has taken us 10 years to get to the division of domestic labour we have now.
It's exhausting and unfair, isn't it?
Your situation can be looked at simply using logic: one of you has to compromise, or you both do:
1. You stay doing two days at home
2. You go full time and your DH does two days at home
3. You go full time and your dc go into childcare for those two days
4. You both do 4 days a week.
Two of those require your DH's co-operation. Obviously there are implications for your mental health and career (1) and/or your relationship (3). But those I think are your options.
What do you think?
Poorchurchmouse is right. Book the childcare. Don't worry about his arrangements if that's how he'd prefer to make flexibility work. Lots of people can't do careers, childcare and hobbies, at least for a while.
Point out it's more tax efficient to have two medium-high salaries than one high and one medium.
Oh, and the second you have work travel arranged or even mooted, send him an Outlook/Google/iCal appointment so that it's in his diary. Forgetting is no excuse.
I did think about a nanny, but I looked at average rates in our area and we would couldn't easily afford four full days (say, ten hours a day) per week.
I'm trying to think now how I would really feel about four days childcare a week. It does feel like a lot. Oh I don't know
But you're right, the resentment and the fact that through past choices I'm now the default parent, is what's eating me - just as my career ambitions are really starting to build. I feel better for venting here though.
Thanks all for sharing your stories they are all why I put this in FWR! Nothing is easy, is it.
Recognise some of this and agree that your H has let you down.
One option would be to try increased hours for a few months: DC might well be fine. If your H is so concerned about their childcare perhaps he could go PT!
I increased my hours because three days was untenable at work and I feared losing my job if I didn't (zero chance of promotion now am PT!) was most worried about the DC but they were actually fine and so was I!
Also, if you work on a Friday some nannies who work for other families earlier in the week but want more money might work for a reasonable rate: you could do a mix of childcare.
Missed a couple of posts earlier then had to go and do work all day. Thanks again for all your thoughtful replies.
I have been thinking of posting a general "thankyou Mumsnet" thread highlighting all the things I've learned from it - all sorts of feminism stuff; the idea that I earn DH's salary just as much as he does even though I work less, because I look after our children; how not to take on all the family shitwork just because I'm socially conditioned to do so; so many useful forms of words for raising points of conflict in more neutral and productive ways...it's all helped me get to a much better place where I not only know better what I want, but I also know I'm entitled to have it!
It helps, too, to have some external validation from this thread that what I want work-wise isn't - on the face of it - wildly unreasonable.
I've gained some strength today. I'll update if I manage to achieve any actual change soon
X posted again!
if you work on a Friday some nannies who work for other families earlier in the week but want more money might work for a reasonable rate: you could do a mix of childcare.
I had no idea that was possible! Thankyou, that's a really good thought.
have you asked him why his job is more important than yours?
if he has no answers i triple saying "well i am returning to work full time, i have booked the kids in to childcare, i am starting on the 1 december if you care that much fix it yourself"
He earns more than me - actually about twice as much. Which doesn't mean he sees his job as "more important", just that he sees no sense in reducing his earnings to enable me to (more slowly) increase mine. Though I have made the point about career-long earnings, as well as that if I worked more I'd gain validated skills that would directly increase my pay.
Where I think he does have a fair point is that my job is much more flexible than his - I can do some (not all) work from home so sometimes, for instance, I get a couple of hours in on a Friday pm when DS2 is napping. Wfh just isn't an option with his job, and his area isn't nearly as amenable as mine to requests for flexible working. My boss is hugely laid back about how I achieve my objectives and if I tell him I need to work 15 hours a day for a week and then have a fortnight off for school holidays, I doubt he'd bat an eyelid as long as I was ok and the work was getting done.
I mean, in DH's shoes I'd be pushing the flexible working angle harder, because in general I mind less about rocking the boat in order to get what I want. But he won't do it. I said this means he's prioritising his work and his colleagues, to whom he feels accountable, above me. He just got cross. I think he's trying to be all things to all people. As I say, he does more childcare since that conversation than he used to, so I can work. And I do appreciate that. I think he's trying to find a way of making all this work that doesn't involve any radical changes. Or more paid childcare. I'm just less sure than him that that is possible.
My career took backstage when we had children. It was a joint decision that I would work fewer hours and more local. However I didn't appreciate that when the children were sick or the school called it was always my job that was more flexible.
So move on a few years... My STBXH had an affair and left. I'm now in the situation where I have 14 years of a pt pension and a career that has been ruined. I'm now being told I need to go full time which in the career I'm in isn't that easy with funding cuts.
Whatever you do take care. I loved my time with the kids and was happy to drop the career. However now things have changed and from a financial perspective I wish I hadn't gone part time etc.
Oh and I should say, he's not remotely possessive with his pay packet - he picks up most of our bigger purchases eg holidays, cars without a murmur. And he pays substantial amounts into savings accounts for the DC.
Itisbetternow yeah, I always have that sort of scenario in the back of my mind. I really don't think we'll ever divorce but then everyone thinks that, don't they?
On really bad days I fantasise briefly about it because then I could simply INFORM him I'm going full time and covering the remainder of my childcare responsibilities with paid childcare, and there'd be absolutely fuck all he could do about it
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.