Mothers and travelling away for work(125 Posts)
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.
I don't know what the answer is. I don't have to go away for work but if I did, I wouldn't feel guilty about leaving the dc - more guilty for leaving dh with it ALL to do.
Dh and I are a team with the attitude that everything we do is to lighten the load of the other.
I would miss them terribly though.
Would your dd be as happy with her Dad for two weeks as she is with you?
it's just change, which is always worrisome. <pointedly ignores cultural pressure>
dd will be fine. dh and i did this for a bit (i usually sahm but go through periods of v ft work) and i found it useful to have a childminder that was contracted to provide overnight care when we needed it. i think in the event we only used it a couple of times, for one night each, as dh picked up the slack.
good luck though, it sounds like just the challenge you need!
You need to be thinking about your own pension not just his. Take the job. Dd won't love you less. It will give them a chance to spend some quality father/daughter time.
You have nothing to feel guilty about.
I travel a lot for work. Dh is sahp. I won't pretend I don't feel guilty (as well as utterly adoring being able to sleep until an hour before a meeting, have a bath in the morning and read crime fiction for hours in the airport), but I do think that this - and most other - kinds of maternal guilt are a political issue. I find it helpful to think about what I'm modelling to the kids; not that love means never being able to go away, but that good relationships can take some coming and going, and that families are places where adventures start and end, not what stops you travelling. We've always been matter-of-fact about it and, at the beginning, when they were toddlers and it used to make me cry to leave them, I cried on the way to the airport, not at home. And despite those tears, I'm really glad I have a job I enjoy, where I find self-respect and independence and validation outside the domestic world, and I'm really glad they're growing up seeing that men and women can travel and that fathers make good carers. Given how counter-cultural it is for a mother to take her career seriously, it's bound to hurt a bit. That's how you know it's good politics.
I don't feel guilty about leaving dh in charge more the effect it would have on dd. And I would miss her terribly but yes - my own pension (currently in a better state than dh's) is important. And my career! If stay coasting where I am I think I will find it increasing hard to change - companies don't want OLD people!
What would you want dd to do in the same position?
I travel abroad for work approx once a month. I really enjoy a couple of nights away from the kids!!
I think 7 is old enough for her to rationalise this change. It will give her the chance to spend more time with dad. Have you talked to her about it?
Not yet - I haven't got the job yet. I will chat about it with her this week. But I want to go to the interview sure in my own mind that we as a family can cope with what it entails. With regards with what I would want dd to do - I would want her to max her opportunities - but not neglect any children she might have. It's about balance in my eyes. Mum Dad and children's needs all need to be taken in account. Trixy - with this job I would be away for 2 weeks at a time.....
When I said to dd that I had a interview, she told me I wasn't allowed a new job as my current one gets her cheap holidays. She has been away to the seaside/Ardennes/Pony riding at a vastly reduced cost. I know she can manage without me for a week.....but .....
It works for us - I do at least a week away a month, and in the conference season its more. DS is 5, and accepts it quite happily.
DH and I work our diaries round each other - I know my long trips a long way in advance, and apart from robust school based care the only help is our cleaner who will do the odd bit of babysitting for us
I don't know what the answer to this one is. I travel for work and the worst time was the first time I went, but after that we all take it in our stride. Being a working mother is a long list of compromises when it comes to it. I make sure I give them plenty of attention when I get back and I really enjoy a quiet night alone in a hotel with a large glass of wine .
It is annoying though that as a working mother you do seem to be attacked by more guilt for travelling away than you do as a man.
I thought the 2 week trips were only twice a year?
How long would the monthly trips be?
I've always worked full time - so rationalised THAT one long ago. I wonder if girls of a certain age need their MUM as opposed to their dad more. Mine died and my dad was always slightly remote so I don't know the answer to this . I never really reached out to anyone. I don't want the same for dd.
Since she reached Primary age, she is exploring the world a lot more - I love our chats. We discuss bodies, astronomy, religion, friends, girl stuff etc etc. I try to be a strong role model and stress the importance of education and being healthy. I suppose I have a view on what messages I want her to grow up with. I worry about making myself LESS available to her as she approaches puberty - I am not sure that DH, lovely though he is, will even think about these things.... He can be a bit of an old fart at times.
trixy - sorry - the 2 week trips ARE twice a year. The others would be a couple of days at a time.....But also due to telecons late working in the office.
come on, this can be exciting for her to! she's old enough to be interested in a little bit of non-mummy independence, she'll get to spend time with dad looking after her and they can have lots of fun inventing new bits of family time that only happen when you're away <and you don't know about...!> set up a skype account, do a bedtime story blog with her where she suggests what happens next and you add to it each night you're away. start buying her a collection of tat that you add to after each trip. get her to see you being dashing and adventurous and full of energy whenever you get back and she'll enjoy the new routine and be inspired by what mummys can do.
x-post with you OP - i don't think emotional availability is necessarily about always being there physically. it's about really listening and putting the time in when she needs a friendly ear. you can do that as well as being away 4 weeks of the year.
Great post by BlancheIngram - I agree with all of it.
Go for it, Porto.
Yes, I think that was what I was getting at when I asked ifyour dd be as happy with her Dad for two weeks as she is with you.
My eldest child is a 6 year old girl and all the things you discuss with your dd, my dh discusses with her. He has been better able to deal with the difficult questions (death, procreation etc) than me. Ds dotes on his Dad too so I know they'd be fine without me.
Maybe you going away will be a good thing for their relationship.
From what you have said so far about the job, the amount of time away doesn't sound that bad to me. However, what is coming across to me in your posts is that you don't really want to do it. I know you have posted in the feminism topic, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to be there for your children and putting them before your ambitions.
It doesn't sound to me like this is the right job for you, and I'm a great believer that the right thing comes along eventually, you just have to be patient and keep looking. I would however go to the interview as it will be great practice, you may not get it, in which case you can feel relieved that it wasn't the right thing. If you do get it it will be a massive confidence boost even if you do turn it down.
I wouldn't do it personally. I won't even do overnight stays let alone trips abroad without my DCs. But then mine are still little. I may feel differently in years to come - who knows.
... i wonder if the issue might be that you have internally labelled DH's style of parenting 'bad parenting', even tho (or because) you are envious of it. you sound like you gave up a lot to become the primary carer with a downgraded career, was this a way of justifying that to yourself, that you were doing parenthood the 'right' way? so taking on that style yourself, puts you in the 'bad' camp, even tho it's what you've been wishing for.
you also call DH an old fart and worry he won't be able to parent your DD as well as you - like you don't trust him as a parent, as well as being worried about the mum-daughter thing? not really any wonder you are torn. i still think you should take the job, but maybe you need to unpick a bit of this in the meantime otherwise you'll always be wishing you were somewhere else, wherever you are, and hassling DH while you're away instead of letting him bond with DD.
I like omaoma's approach! With modern technology you can totally make this a fun experience for your DD -- you can skype every night, send photos of where you are, you could do a blog together. Naturally you can bring her back some cool gifts too .
Two weeks flies by so fast for kids.
I DO want the job though - it is a great opportunity for me and for my career. My ever growing feminist bit inside says I should grab it with both hands - I NEED it. I need the challenge and the opportunity. It would be great for ME. I guess since childbirth I have become used to being bottom of the pile. Dd - first always, then because of dh's promotion - him second. Then little old me, holding it all together. I do a good job of it. Life runs smoothly.
life can still go well! but it will clearly involve some change, and it may not be quite as smooth. that's not the end of the world. if anything, knowing how to cope with change and last-minute issues (and that it IS possible to cope with them) is an important skill for your DD to learn.
btw i know someone in a marriage where BOTH have a very high flying job and travel all the time. admittedly they have an aupair. maybe something like that, that could provide the continuity and freedom you need, would work for you?
This may not be territory you want to explore here and now, but you say your mother died when you were young. Might you be projecting some of your own sense of loss onto your dd in relation to your travel, feeling that you would be leaving her as you were left? I can imagine that a loss like that - well, there is no loss like that - would colour your feelings about going away from your dd.
Yes - I COULD see an au pair in this. We have space for one. But I guess this is where I get into Mum OR Dad hold the fort, verses the hired help. Not being Xenia, and growing up on a council estate with working class family, this is totally outside my experience.
So normally with planning, one of us could be here, though dh thinks school run might be an issue (if he got dressed earlier he could manage this and fulfill his contracted hours). But with BOTH of us working for US companies and late meetings......I don't want dd to suffer.
If you want and need the job then go for it!!! Everything else will work out.
If it's not working then at least you will know you tried it and not always wonder what if. Children are resilient, I like the Skype suggestions.
Bertha - I think you make a very good point there. I was 4 when my mum died, so I don't even know what normal family dynamics are. My dsis and I were brought up by my maternal GPs with visits with/to my dad. My GP's were great but were strict/old fashioned. My dd is 7 and I have already discussed more with her then they ever did with me.
I guess I don't KNOW what a normal mother/daughter relationship should be like! That has shocked me a little. And brought a tear to my eye. And there is me talking of au pairs.....
au pairs sound fancy, but it's just like taking on an extra employee to help out when your business is busy. your 'business' is your family. if you are big and clever enough to do an international job, you can manage to recruit someone you like with the right experience who can help you run your house and take a load off you rmind.
presumably you wouldn't refuse to take on an extra person in your office if it got too much to handle by yourself???
as my friend said, she's gone from having good childcare to having a much-loved, trustworthy friend and family member - and one who absolutely makes sure everything runs as smoothly as it would have had one of the parents stayed at home. there are always last-minute xyzs that you need an extra pair of hands, a short-notice babysitter etc etc for. don't cut off your nose to spite your face!
i would also point out that you didn't expect your DH to do all the family stuff when he was the big pooh-ba - YOU did the family stuff for him to support that. why would you try to cope without a homehelp yourself, knowing how much work it is?
DH does the family stuff when he is here. We have a cleaner already and he is HAPPY for me to go for this. But I think it is still me that agonises over changing a nice simple life for something more complicated , but more fulfilling for me. I guess this is why I posted this in feminism vs relationships or parenting. Though actually I am not sure if this a feminist issue.....I want to do something for ME that will in fact negatively impact on the rest of the family.
I think you need to objectively assess whether it would actually be a negative impact on the rest of the family.
So your DH might have to rearrange his schedule sometimes -- he's a grown man, he can handle it! And you might have to go away once in a while or work late sometimes -- honestly, your DD will be fine. These will be momentary disturbances, not a huge negative impact.
I think it is sort of a feminist issue in that you are assuming your job would have a negative impact but your husband's doesn't.
As you assess this, be sure to remember all the positives that would come from this as well.
Do it. It sounds like a lot of travelling, but I do more than this and it does not feel like a lot over the whole year. It might also be possible to take those late conf calls from home - our mother company is in US and that's what we do. Your DD wil be fine and very proud of your career when she grows up.
Yes, get an au-pair so you don't have to panic when you both have important meetings and DD gets sick.
Blancheingham: "[love doesn't mean] never being able to go away, but that good relationships can take some coming and going, and that families are places where adventures start and end, not what stops you traveling. " Love it! (maybe because i've got a big trip coming up so starting to feel the travel nerves/motherly guilt..)
Portofino - going away is hard at first, but it gets easier (for you, for him, for DCs..) And it is good to be able to travel and be an adult, and stretched again at work. I would say go for it.
I don't think I would take up Omaoma's suggestion of inventing too much parenting-from-afar routine. Trust that your dd and dh can cope without you and let them get on with it for a bit (I don't mean don't phone, but don't overcompensate more than your DH does when he goes away).
On the other hand if you can do late evening conference calls/webex etc... at home that makes life (a bit) easier and is worth doing.
You will feel guilty; but in the long term it will be worth it, plus think about those lovely peaceful flights watching the film with a glass of wine, big hotel bed with crispy sheets all to yourself, shopping in NY......
My mother went back to work full time as an academic when I was nine, and did a fair bit of travelling to conferences etc after that. I used to love hearing her travellers tales' and seeing what she brought back for us. If she went away for more than a week my grandmother would come to help out (my father was not very domestic ) so I would get to enjoy my granny's cooking and write letters to my mother about what was going on.
Looking back I really admire my mother for picking up her career again - she was a great role model and I think it was much better for her than focusing her lives entirely around us (which I would have found quite constricting).
I think this is totally a feminist issue - you are worrying about you doing it as dd's mother, whereas you were very happy for your DH to do it as her father.
On a completely practical note ignoring the feminist aspects - I have a 9 y/o, and while 2 years ago I would have struggled with being away so much, it seems to me that children mature and grow up enormously from about 7 / 8 onwards and all of a sudden friends, school, outside activities really do start to take on a greater importance in their life. So to me it would be very different leaving an 8 y/o for 2 weeks with her dad who potentially might have late meetings & therefore need to rely on hired help, as compared to leaving a 6 y/o.
Porto - I haven't read all the posts (on my phone) so I hope I'm not repeating people.
I seem to not have the guilt gene about going to work and the commitments required from that so I hope I don't come across as unsympathetic. When I was 9 I changed to a new school and my Mum was away with work for my first day. Recently she told me how guilty she felt about this. I on the other hand hadn't really given it a moment's thought. In fact I felt it was a "special" time with me and my Dad which were few and far between. I also remember feeling a certain amount of excitement that my Mum was doing a new job too at the same time I was going to a new school.
So personally I think that this is an opportunity for your DD to have quality or some uninterrupted time with her Dad rather than time away from you. Hope that makes sense!
I would also ask yourself why you feel guilty and your DH doesn't. Would he enable you to work away in the same way that you have enabled him, for example? Because whichever way you dress it up you made career choices to enable his career. Maybe the guilt comes from the fact that you feel your DD may be losing out because he won't provide the same level of care you do when he is away? I.e. He isn't enabling your career in the same way you are enabling his?
Any reason you can't do the evening teleconferences from home? It's not uncommon when working across different time zones. Avoids having to go back into the office.
I don't work away from home very often (3 or 4 times a year) and only for a few nights, but DH does 4 10 day trips a year. He finds it hard to go, but is fine once he's there. And DC always get presents when he's back, so they think it's a great treat. And I see no reason why I couldn't do the same. Would feel bad about going on holiday without the DC's, but not about work travel.
Portofino - I know mothers with much extensive work-related travel than your proposed job is asking, and long hours. TBH, the very best situation is if you can fly a family member over (grandmother) to cover for you when you are away for a week. Alternatively, does your DD have a friend whose parents would be prepared to have her to stay for a cash payment from time to time?
Portofino, I didn't for a moment think that you didn't know what a mother-daughter relationship was like - of course you do, you are the mother of a daughter who loves you and with whom you are happy. I was just thinking that given how much our experience as children shapes our parenting and the parenting to which we aspire, losing your mother at 4 would increase your anxiety about the idea of leaving your daughter. You might then suggest that by not leaving her, you would pass this anxiety down to the next generation, or you might conclude that because of your childhood bereavement, there are good reasons why you'd choose not to travel. I'm sure they're equally valid views, but being aware of the influence of your past might shape your decision-making.
I'd take the job. And, in the nicest possible way and having been there myself, I'd try to think a bit more about the idea that dh is less of a parent than I am.
I wouldn't leave my DD and DSSs on their own with DP for a week without some extra help because I am way too frightened of the backlog of laundry/shopping/homework/dustballs/holiday planning etc etc etc that would await me when I got back. That has nothing to do with DP being less of a parent than me (he isn't) and everything to do with him being far too busy to tackle a second job.
Don't have any "spare" family members to fly in - we're a bit short on grandmothers. The friend option might be doable on the odd occasion. DH would have to try and reorganise his diary for the longer trips wherever possible - he's not normally home til after 7pm, so he would have to do something to incorporate the school run - or we are back to Au Pair, or recruiting someone to collect dd from school everyday.
I don't think of him as less of a parent than me - though he can be a bit short tempered and impatient sometimes. He could manage the house perfectly well - I would worry a bit more about nutrition and getting her in the shower. But none of this is insurmountable I guess. It all comes down to how I FEEL about it in the end. I have to GET the job first
I have a friend (mother of friend of DD) who is a single mother. She does a lot of overseas business trips to complicated places with no internet access and always gets either her mother or her ex-mother-in-law to fly in to cover, even though she has a nanny and a housekeeper. I think it's important for at least one parent or grandparent to be physically in the country as much as possible, but I don't think it matters if you and your DH are both away together for the odd night or two. I do willingly help my friend out when she is travelling and she returns the favour for me - her DD doesn't mind her mother being away so much if she gets a nice sleepover/fun day at our house! Maybe you need to network among your DD's friends' parents? With only one DD yourself, it is easier to reciprocate playdates and sleepovers than if you had a lot of children.
Don't feel guilty.
Seeing you doing a job like this will be positive for your DD
She is 7 and old enough to understand
It's not that much travel in the scheme of things
You really sound excited about it
Go for it
Don't look back
Oh and WELL DONE for getting the second interview and GOOD LUCK I hope you get it
I wouldn't do it, I couldn't be away that long. But it doesn't make you a bad mother at all. It's just up to the individual family/mother. If you are having doubts though I would be cautious and follow your instincts.
I don't see that much of dd's friends parents. The one I was closest to moved and they are all working. I do organise the odd sleepover and playdate with school friends, but normally at weekends dd plays with the neighbourhood kids or we meet with OUR friends and their families. I have a lovely friend with a dd at school in the same commune as dd who has collected from school and had her overnight. That might work for an occasional night but I don't want to impose too much. The neighbours' dds are at school in different areas.
I suppose this one of the reasons I posted in feminism. If dh CAN'T change his schedule - and this COULD happen and probably would - it is MY responsibility to sort an alternative. So much as he supports me in going for this role and much as he would try to work round me working late/abroad - if he had other commitments I feel they would take priority. Whereas now my priority is always dd over work, and I have been fortunate that I have had a career that has allowed me to do this so far. She should always be a priority to ONE of us at a time?
I completely understand why you have organised your social life the way you do up until now! But maybe, if you are going to be travelling for work, it is now time to rethink a bit.
TBH, I never think twice about a mother with work commitments asking me to help out as long as she is prepared to help out in return. Eg tomorrow DD and two other little girls need ferrying across town to a party and back again mid-afternoon. A WOHM mother is going to do the ferrying out, in her lunch hour, and I shall do the ferrying back, in mid-afternoon (impossible for working parents). Parents with nannies can be useful for me in the same way as I can be useful for parents who need to travel (and whose children need extra TLC sometimes). I think reciprocity is the way forward. Each play to her strengths.
Interestingly - I posted about the first interview on FB and had loads of friends and family "likes" and replies - was I moving to the US, how did it go etc. Yesterday I posted again that I had a second interview, and made a jokey comment about did anyone fancy coming to Brussels to be my Au Pair. A few close friends "liked" and someone asked about the role, but otherwise tumbleweed. I felt "judged" - though this could of course be totally in my imagination. FB you know....
I spoke to my GM on the phone and she said "Oh well you won't be able to do that then" But WHY NOT? No one turns a hair when dh is in Paris or Rome or NY - even for 2 weeks. I guess I do have an element of anxiety about flying and leaving her behind.....
I am not really clear on this idea of chatting up dd's friend's parents solely with a view on getting some free childcare I don't WANT dd ferried about after school really. If it is necessary I am happy to pay someone to collect her and feed her/check homework etc. I want her routine to continue. She is already at school til 5 or 5.30 - it's a long day. Better in that case to have an au pair who will collect her 3.30, do homework and play with her - though she enjoys the afterschool club. There are OTHER CHILDREN there......
"If dh CAN'T change his schedule - and this COULD happen and probably would - it is MY responsibility to sort an alternative. "
Is this your DH's opinion, or is it more the way you feel? Because to me, it seems like child/ren ought to be the priority to both their parents.
Not that the parents have to be there in person to do the looking after, of course, but both parents need to take the responsibility of figuring out how they will receive the care (physical and emotional) that they need. Its just not on for one parent to abdicate that responsibility.
If you really want the job go for it and everything else will fall into place afterwards.
Takver - well there is the thing! I bet dh has given this less than one minute's thought. Fair enough - he needn't worry til at least after the interview - I shouldn't be stressing yet reallly. I started reading Wifework - and haven't finished yet - I need to
If you asked DH about his priorities in life I bet he would say DD and I. But in reality when it comes to activities and management of time, I suspect work and football affect the RL timetable more..... the assumption is just there!
I think you and DH need to sit down and really talk about this. DH and I have an implicit understanding that DS's welfare comes first, and that neither one of us has a job that is more important than the others. Therefore, if I am scheduled to be away, dh will sort out his diary to be at school at 8am and 5.30pm (wherever he is in the middle), and if he needs extra childcare, he books it. Equally, when DH has things scheduled before me, I make it work round him.
He also cooks, does laundry, orders food etc etc when I am not around because it is just as much his job as mine. He feels very strongly about this tbh
Good luck, I hope you get the job!
I do feel a bit when so often in these conversations, the default solution is bring in auntie/granny or cobble together some reciprocal arrangement with other mums (which you, not your DH will end up reciprocating and probably organising from afar) without ever compromising the dads ability to work all hours.
What would happen if your DH went to work and said "for 2 weeks 3x a year I need to finish at 5pm- can we work out a way to make that possible?" I don't know his job, maybe it's not possible, but maybe it's not so unthinkable?
... My mum, after me working away for 4 years still says "who is going to look after the kids when you are gone?" and s when I say DH
Himalaya - why ? My DP could never commit to getting out of work in time to collect from school and be available unless he stopped working - the type of work he does just doesn't allow for short days. The only alternative is to outsource. I am about people's reluctance to outsource childcare for older children (I have very different feelings about the outsourcing of childcare for very young children) providing the quality is good. Children don't mind their parents being away - they even rather enjoy it, IMO!
Porto - I was talking about the whole issue with childcare when working with DS's friend's mum yesterday - neither of us are able to even consider a job without thinking through all the logistics even though they are totally hypothetical. Obviously it would make far more sense to get the job first and work out how it will all pan out but I think if you are the one who is usually responsible for looking after DC in the main, it's natural to think it through first.
Anyway, that's by the by. I think you should go for it - you will work something out, either you and your DH co-ordinate your schedules, or you have an AP/babysitter for a few weeks.
I actually think it's really important for children to see that their mother's job is as important to her as their father's job is to him. And that as a woman it is absolutely fine to be ambitious and to look for new challenge even though you are also a parent.
I grew up as the DD of an expat where you live now as you know and my parents travelled a lot. I missed them when they didn't call (phone calls were v expensive then) but now it's cheap to call and you can skype for as long as you want so it's totally different. When I go away now, my DS sometimes says 'mummy I've had enough of talking to you now' and puts the phone down I think I miss him much more than he misses me.
Incidentally I do a lot of conference calls and have always done them from home if they are at unsociable hours.
I'm struggling with exactly the same issue. I'm the sole breadwinner at the moment, and am conisdering applying for a job that would provide much greater financial security, but would mean longer hours and frequent travel. Am trying to work out what I think would be doable / acceptable / not make the DDs unhappy. DH is a SAHP so the logistics are fine, but doesn't really embrace the "extras" i.e. friends to tea, doing fun stuff etc. I think he would struggle to put a positive spin on my trips abroad and keep everyone cheerful. Don't know at what point I think he should just suck it up and get on with it, or if it's really not the right thing for us.
When DH went for promotion - we discussed what that would entail, and I knew that I would have to be there to fit round travel for example. I feel a bit that I am now trying to change the ground rules - though it is easier now dd is slightly older. Whilst dh is generally good - it is a little irksome that he has come to consider himself as more important careerwise. In fact - as the boss I think he probably has more control over his day than me (essential meetings aside) - and I can manage to keep things flexible.
Portofino, don't do this so that you can feel equal in your relationship. Just make sure that your DH recognises the contribution that you make to the family as equal. We don't have to compete with men for long hours and overseas travel to be equal, do we?
In our family we have have a 'Whose need is the greatest?' policy. It could be that on this occasion your need is the greatest. Just make sure that your motivation is sound.
x posts Porto. It is necessary and healthy to reassess the big things in your life/relationship periodically. Sometimes that results in the need for new ground rules. I think that's OK as long as you can agree on the changes.
Bonsoir - I don't necessarily mean no outsourcing - childminders, after school club etc... but the assumption that for a mum to go away you need to outsource complete wrap-around childcare (kids stay away, gran comes to stay etc...) because dad can't possibly be expected to find a way to leave at 5 every day for a week or so.
I understand different jobs are different. If you work in a service job etc...but for many people who work in some kind of office the world wouldn't fall apart if they left at 4:30 or 5. Yes they might be looked at as less driven and committed, but that happens to mums who juggle all the time.
Porto - I don't think it is changing the ground rules - as pickledsiblings said its more like reassessing what is needed. But as you say your DH has come to consider himself as more important careerwise, which is a problem.
Himalaya - office jobs require hours and commitment, you know . I think it undermines both men and women to think that they ought to be able to fit the school run into office hours. In order for that to happen, there needs to be a major rethink of school at governmental level - individual families shouldn't feel pressurised into thinking its their fault if they cannot reconcile those logistics.
Bonsoir - I don't agree really. In these days of modern technology and the urge towards hotdesking and paperless offices, you can work ANYWHERE. Well at least anywhere with an internet connection. Yes, there are meetings. Yes, it is important to see people face to face. But you COULD condence important meetings into core hours - say 10 - 4, and catch up on emails, paperwork, phone calls outside that time. And it would not matter where you are sitting whilst you did that. I know - I do this.
Yes - customer facing jobs are somewhat different and this doesn't apply if you work in retail or you are a dr or surgeon. But for MANY office jobs, a lot of flexibility could be built in with the right technology and mind set. I see no difference in being able to do a late telecon or video conference from home vs staying in the office, as long as you are not disturbed.
You seem to be saying that you need to be career driven OR a parent. Why should those pesky kids interrupt my 14 hour stretch in the office? I am important don't you know.....It's not school that needs a major rethink - it is presenteeism!
I like the Belgian way of doing stuff - there is practically NOONE in the office past 5. At my employer they only care that the work gets done. You get no brownie points for sitting there at 7pm..
Maybe you don't agree, Portofino. I know a lot of people - mothers especially - who don't agree. And then wonder why their careers are stalling...
But this is a feminist issue surely - it is WRONG that this is the case! In these days where it is perfectly possible to build in flexibility, teleworking, video-conferencing to many roles, why should you need to be IN THE OFFICE for 12 or 14 hours a day? My performance is based on my work being done to a high standard, on time and on my clients' needs being met. Whether I am doing that at my desk at 9am or in my kitchen at 9pm means not a jot to anyone. But in that time I have also done the school run and spent time with my child.
Inho, we need to stop this view that the only way for women to get on is to abandon their children to granny/friends and concentrate more on changing the working environment for everyone so that being committed to your job does not mean sitting in the office til 8pm. More fathers need to be insisting on leaving early to pick up the kids and signing in later if necessary.
And if the "careers are stalling" comment is a dig at my supposed lack of commitment to my job, you could not be more wrong. My employer is VERY flexible, has a strong work life balance ethic and very good benefits. People don't leave - so there is little opportunity for promotion. Hence my desire for a new challenge.
I don't think this is a feminist issue at all. I think this is an issue of the fundamental incompatibility of children's school timetables with parents' working schedules as they currently stand. I have much more faith in the ability of schools to adapt to parents' working schedules than the other way round!
My dd's school is open 7.30 am to 6pm. I personally can't see what more the school can do to help me (unless they want to build a dormitory wing) My dd does not attend for all those hours by the way - but I am sure that some do. That is a LONG day for a child - longer than my statutory working hours - for which I actually get extra holiday. What WOULD help me in my current dilemma is a firm knowledge that my dh would step up to the plate and offer dd the same degree of flexibility that I do. But when there is this view that men (or women) can't be seen to be leaving the office at a reasonable time to meet family commitments because they will be SEEN to be uncommittted to their job (not they ARE uncommitted) - then I maintain this IS a feminist issue.
My DP has always offered a great deal more flexibility around school than his exW - he did every single morning school run right through primary for the DSSs, he regularly has lunch with one or other of the children, he goes to every single school meeting/parents evening and is a class rep for one or other of the children every year. His exW only occasionally shows up at parents' meetings and I doubt she ever did a school run in her life. But neither of them could have managed their jobs without another adult FT at home to pick up the pieces.
Does he still do the school run with your dd?
I would agree that if we are talking both parents at CEO level, or top lawyers etc, you could not expect to both work and run your household without several layers of paid help. Most of us aren't in that realm though. There was a calculator on a thread recently that showed where you fit in the scheme of things with regards to earnings and our family income scores very high on the scale. Yet we still use our overdraft facility and whilst we have a cleaner, full time staff are out of our league. That tells me that there are relatively FEW families in the Alan Sugar meets Xenia league.
I agree that a culture of presenteeism is a bad thing generally and the places I have worked it has been there - having said that not as badly as many of my friends.
So the idea was that I got my work done quickly and that left me a few hours to spend every day on the internet, chatting, taking long lunches, shopping, wandering around the office, tidying my desk. While if I were at home I could have done that stuff and then rather than relaxing and nattering and emailing, I could have been getting on with some washing, floor cleaning, ironing, childcare...
Thinking about it, isn't this the reason we have a presentee culture? Because family life is seen as second best by so many in our society? Childcare, house stuff are very low paid and low status. So my guess is that the culture of presenteeism isn't going to change until family childcare and home are seen as in some way worthwhile... A place that someone would reasonably actually want to be.
Thinking out loud there really
porto yes there are terribly few people who are really really wealthy - interesting prog on the BBC last night
porto here is was very interesting.
BTW my last post was steam of consciousness so happy for it to be picked at!
Sardine - will have a look at link in the morning (as abroad I have to activate our VPN account to watch UK iPlayer) But there is LOADS of hanging about in office culture. Chatting by the coffee machine, going for lunch, networking things, irrelevant meetings etc etc. I go to SO many meetings that aren't about discussion but more someone presenting information. You don't NEED a meeting for that. Just send the presentation and make yourself available for any questions.
I do honestly believe that MANY men (probably my dh amongst them) use the EXCUSE of long hours in the office to excuse them from doing domestic things. Home too late to help with dinner/baths/bedtimes. Knackered at the weekend so just nip off for a bit of rejuvenating golf/long lie ins etc. I know in my DH's case that he is still in his dressing gown when dd and I leave the house. He works til 7 ish as he needs to speak to people in the US......But not every day he doesn't - and 5 or 6pm would suffice.
I am not doubting that he works hard. I do think that he could manage his time much better if he HAD to.
And Sardine you are right that family life is seen as unimportant in our (UK) culture - by men, generally. In Belgium I see many men doing school runs and taking parental leave. The boss (who has grown up children) might still be there at 6pm but no other bugger will be. It is not expected. There is traffic and dinner and family.
I have a colleague who is known for his lack of communication skills (in any language). I used to sit next to him. On a Wednesday, he left the office early and always told me the menu for the planned family dinner that occurred on that night. Carbonade de boeuf, couscous royale, choucroute etc etc. I assumed that he was leaving early to COOK these meals. But no - he had a summons from his MIL!
Bonsoir - this is definitely a feminist issue.
School is not childcare (for a start it is only open 2/3 of the year). Therefore for anyone who doesn't have live-in-nanny style childcare (=99% of people) or a SAHP partner -- working and bringing up children committing to drop-offs and pick-ups at particular times, supervising homework, sorting out meals etc...and that means sometimes saying no to late meetings, not being free to travel all the time etc... it doesn't mean you can't be productive at work but it does mean your work style changes when you have children.
80% of people I see in the playground doing the pickups and drop offs are women, and 80% of the people who make it to the top in many professions with a presenteeism culture are men. It is not a coincidence.
I think we should challenge the whole idea of your 'career stalling' being a bad thing. Why shouldn't careers go fast and slow at different times? What is so important about momentum? This idea that 'good' careers are perpetually moving forward at breakneck speed is really damaging to women.
If you take a few years off work, or out of the fast lane when your kids are young and your DH doesn't then it is all to common to get into this mindset where he has the 'first class' unstalled career and yours is the stalled career, which is seen as second (or third or fourth) priority for the family. If the woman's career is stalled why should the man inconvenience his important unstalled career by working more flexibly so that she can travel, start to do late meetings etc...? I think this is the situation Portofino is describing.
I think the logic is all wrong. I think we have to start thinking more in terms of reciprocity between parents. So if one gets a few years to turbo charge their career because of the support of the other, they should also be willing to take a few years of slower career development to let the other one catch up.
There is no reason why a good career has to mean 14 hour days or 30 years of unbroken career rise -- the only reason is because this is the normal pattern for men with SAHM wives to support them domestically.
Portofino - no, he doesn't do the school run every day for DD for the three following reasons (a) I am available to do it (b) DD's school starts 30 minutes later than the DSSs' primary school did, so DP needs to be going in late in order to make it viable (he does do this occasionally) (c) the economy has gone tits up in the last few years and so DP works much longer hours, mostly carved off in the mornings, than he did when the DSSs were little!
Himalaya - none of your points convince me that this a feminist issue and by insisting it is so, I think you focus your energy on the wrong "problems" which prevents you from actually identifying useful solutions. The issue of compatibility of child raising and career is a parental issue; if parents find it distasteful to outsource childcare for long periods while they pursue their jobs (whose hours are not going to become more flexible - on the contrary) they need to think this through rationally and dispassionately rather than women by default "blaming men". That's the knee jerk, thoughtless way of approaching what is a much more complex issue.
Of course it's a feminist issue. How ridiculous to suggest otherwise!
It isn't about 'blaming men'. It is about recognising that this is almost uniquely a problem that women face.
When have you ever heard anyone talking about male senior leaders having to 'juggle' childcare and work.
I rest my case.
Forgot question mark
here you go: ?
Personally, I never hear senior women talking about juggling childcare and work. They have it sorted!
Bonsoir - I don't think its about 'blaming men' I think its about thinking about the deal that is struck between mothers and fathers over childcare and careers and the way that structures - of work, education, childcare - and ways of thinking about these things - reinforce those choices so that taking a bit of time off when kids are young can be a one way ticket to career oblivion for so many mothers.
...so that you end up with playgrounds full of mothers doing pick-ups/drop-offs etc... and boardrooms full of fathers who have never had to worry about pick-ups/drop-offs as they climbed the greasy pole to the top.
In Porto's case her DH has been able to pursue his career through international travel, and her work has fitted around that. No one suggested that he needed rent-a-granny or to start swapping childcare favours with other dads in the playground in order to be able to make a business trip.
Yes the compatability of child raising and career is a parental issue, I wholeheartedly agree. But as it disproportionately impacts on mothers, isn't that important?
Well we come form very different worlds, then, Bonsoir.
I am a 'senior woman' and this is a hot topic among my circle. I'm not the CEO of a company - I don't earn millions and I can't afford live-in help - but we do have great childcare sorted, so theoretically there should be no problem. Except there is. I do feel guilty about travelling abroad - and missing out on school plays or play dates or whatever - in a way that my male colleagues just don't.
My line of work is incredibly male dominated, and the vast majority of them have SAHM wives. I have a full-time working husband. My situation is vastly different from there situation, and that makes it a feminist issue. I think it is very important to recognise that fact. It doesnt mean I am incapable of looking at practical ways to improve my situation. It just mans that I realise that my situation isn't unique, and is one shared by many other women.
their situation. Sorry - ill today and struggling to formulate sentences!
Himalaya - the issue that Portofino has raised on this thread (and she has revealed her feelings over several posts) is about her reluctance to leave her DD with anyone else other than her DH while she is travelling for work. I can fully sympathise with her distaste at outsourcing childcare (I find a lot of outsourcing of childcare pretty gruesome) and I made suggestions as to versions of outsourcing that she might find more palatable, though even those didn't make the grade.
The key issue is that the world of work is such that if you want a dual-career couple with the sort of freedom to travel and stay late at work that career progression implies, you cannot expect to do so without outsourcing childcare, at least part of the time. Neither adult will be able to have the flexibility to drop everything to fit around the school timetable. This is an issue for working adults, not just mothers. I grant, however, that the outsourcing of childcare is often (though by no means not always) more distasteful for mothers than fathers.
Bonsoir that's because the senior women can afford to pay someone to act as them in their absence.
For people on lower salaries (even right up until middle management) people use nurseries, childminders and so on. So can't drop off before a certain time, pick up after a certain time, and travel is very difficult. They can't afford the type of childcare that offers as much flexibility as having a SAHP / live-in nanny.
The people normally affected by this are women.
Of course it's a feminist issue.
The government removing various assistance with childcare costs at the moment is meaning that some people are doing some calculations and reluctantly realising that they can no longer afford to work. The people doing this are women. The papers say so, the news channels say so.
Until we have a society which expects both men and women to perform childcare duties, this won't change.
SardineQueen - I am sure that there is an issue of cost of childcare, but there is also an issue (the one Portofino is confronted with) of whether they find childcare to their taste or not. You can be wealthy and more than able to afford it and still find childcare distasteful!
The comment about flying in a grandmother just boggled me I have to say. So even after you have raised your own children and they have long left home, you are supposed to be on hand to fly around and go and live in someone elses house for a week and take on the role of mother. Cooking, cleaning, school runs, uniforms and all the rest of it. Just because you're female? No suggestion that a grandfather might do this, obviously. And TBH I imagine that many grandparents would rather baulk at the suggestion!
You were talking about senior women and saying they never seemed to have childcare issues. I was pointing out that the very wealthy can afford to pay someone to act as a total stand-in for them.
All of the other people using non wraparound childcare have real problems with not being seen as totally committed at work.
None of that has anything to do with people finding childcare "distasteful" (odd choice of word) or otherwise.
A woman I worked with arranged her work around her school run. She had cover from 8 til 6 and an hour commute and sometimes got in after 9 / had to leave before 5. She was successful (management in big multinational). She used to "make up" any lost time at home and worked from home sometimes.
I heard that last year she was told that this was no longer acceptable and in the end she had to take a cut in her hours. This happened in 2010 FGS.
SardineQueen - you are taking isolated posts/side issues out of the context of the thread.
Flying in grandmothers is very common you know! A friend of mine used to work in NY and would travel all over the world for work. Her MIL was happily on standby to fly in from France to help her family out. Another friend of mine travels all over the world regularly and her mother and exMIL both fly in from Germany regularly to help out. My mother regularly flies to the Netherlands to help my sister out.
You seem to be willfully ignoring the issue here.
It is not about finding childcare distasteful. It is that for most people childcare (after school club, childminder etc...) still means having to get back at a fixed time to pick up and take over childcare. Which means not being 100% flexible at work.
Portofino is already in a two-earner family, she and her DH probably already use some childcare, just not of the live-in variety.
Yet when he goes away on a business trip, he is not expected to start swapping favours with other parents in the playground (and presumably coordinating all of that by skype while he is away) so that she can stay late at work while he is away.
Why is it so obvious that Portofino is faced with a 'childcare' problem to go away on a business trip, but her DH isn't when he goes?
This is interesting.
My situation is I earn double what DH does. I work 4 days a week (middle management), he works 3 days a week 8 months a year and full time 4 months. He says my job is more important and should be the priority...but in practice he hates saying no when his boss wants him to do extra hours, travelling etc. When he is at work he just thinks about work and not the impact of saying yes to things has on childcare. Which inevitably I have to sort out. If I left it to him he would think about it the week before it was needed, whereas I am already thinking about the 4 months next year when we will need to cover 2 extra days and then thinking about the year after when DD1 starts school and how we will cover that.
If we didn't have supporting grandparents close by we would be screwed!! DD1 has just had to start nursery and for months before I went back to work I have been telling DH that on Tuesday he has to do the nursery run and it has to be a priority. He forgot until the week before and then I have already had to leave work early to pick her up 3 times in 5 weeks!!! Doesn't make a great impression at work does it!
He is a great dad...when he is there...he just seems to have an out of sight out of mind mentality!
I agree with Himalaya, whether DH or I have to work late or travel the childcare "problem" inevitably falls to me to sort out!
I'm not ignoring the issue at all - on the contrary, I am putting my finger right on it . 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.
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.
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....
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.
DONT mention children at interview. You will jnust raise a whole load of questions they cant ask. Good luck
isnt sorting out childcare another type of wifework?
Good luck with the interview !
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
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.......
Why didn't you just ask your DH to sort it, Portofino?
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.
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).
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.
I am not less than busy than him.
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
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 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....
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....
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...
Portofino - yes, it was my childcare, since I am the person who takes responsibility for DD every Monday at that time .
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!)
Sounds like it went well - let us know how you get on - I have my fingers crossed for you!
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 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 !
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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