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Those of you with partners who travel frequently, how do you manage?

(40 Posts)
tinypop4 Wed 23-Aug-17 16:59:46

My DH has a job that has a lot of international travel; he will be away on average 10-14 days a month, which is an increase on when he first started (10 years ago) when he would travel about 4-5 times a year.
It's an essential part of his job, and the bit he enjoys most and I don't resent him the travel at all.

However, we now have two DC and I am trying to balance re-starting my career. DC are 2 and 4.5 - when I just had DD1 it was fine, she was tiny and I just popped her in the car every morning, took her to a childminder next to my work and picked her up every day. after I had DS I took 18 months out and we lived abroad for a year on a secondment for DH job. I now have a new job recently started and the whole thing is a logistical nightmare when DH is away. DD is about to start school too, making nursery drop off, school drop, getting to work on time (early), sorting out DDs school pick up, collecting DS, and then repeat an almost impossible nightmare. Then the kids intermittently get sick, I'm the only one around to look after them so have to stay off work. Then DD wants to do extra-curricular and I don't know when the hell I'm going to fit it taking her and picking her up for that.
I'm always having to plan different amounts of food to be in the house, depending on whether DH is present or not, then sometimes he has to go away last minute or just with a few days notice and everything flies into chaos even further, as the routine is disrupted again! I'm finding it virtiaully impossible to juggle new job, kids, and husband who is away such a lot. I'm probably just less able than a lot of mumsnetters (!) but any advice on handling unpredictability in a household would be much appreciated.
Right now I feel like just giving up my job and trying to find something even closer to home and more part time. Having it all is becoming a distant dream...

HamptonWick1974 Wed 23-Aug-17 17:03:44

You either give up work for a few more years or you get a live in Nanny who can help with everything. Can't do it all on your own.

OhTheRoses Wed 23-Aug-17 17:04:06

Au-pair.

Batteriesallgone Wed 23-Aug-17 17:06:12

I'm a SAHM. It wouldn't work if I had commitments too, work or otherwise.

I struggle to commit to a one evening a week exercise class to be honest because DH is so all over the place!

tinypop4 Wed 23-Aug-17 17:06:50

There would be no point in getting a live in nanny - the cost would totally outweight my entire salary therefore rendering my contribution to the pot a bit pointless....I'm working because I like it rather than the financial reward in my industry.
An Au pair might work

TheQueenSnortsAvocados Wed 23-Aug-17 17:07:27

I travel quite a bit for work and would highly recommend a good child minder and reciprocal arrangements with other working parents.

Batteriesallgone Wed 23-Aug-17 17:08:34

If you are working because you like it then there would be a point to getting a live-in nanny - you get to work! Unless you can't live on his salary alone?

BlondeB83 Wed 23-Aug-17 17:09:02

It doesn't work, you can't do it all.

tinypop4 Wed 23-Aug-17 17:10:29

Yeah I guess Batteries - it's just a bit galling to have negative finances for a job even if it is enjoyed, but I do see your point!
We can live on his salary - I guess I just saw myself as a working parent because I like to work, but perhaps it would be best to stay at home for a few more years until the DC can be a bit more independent.

Sevendaysinaweek Wed 23-Aug-17 17:11:34

My DH is away 1-2 nights every week. DC are 5 and 3 (so one at school). I work three days a week.

It's not easy and I recognise dove of my top tips below depend on affordability..

1. I have a great nanny on the days I work. Even though DC are now at school and pre-school, it is just worth it as mornings are evenings are stress free, and she does a lot of the child related chores (laundry, meals, sorting bits and bobs)

2. Two grocery deliveries per week with pre-set lists so I can quickly shop all our usuals. Our nanny is organised and prepares shopping lists for her days which I can just add.

3. Cleaner who also does ironing.

4 This is the hardest one for me: lower my standards. House can be a bit messier than I would like, I can't be there for every school-related event for both children, don't have an awful lot of time for eg beauty regime i.e. brushing my hair

It's not easy so get the help you can afford I think..

tinypop4 Wed 23-Aug-17 17:13:00

Sevendays thank you for this - a part time nanny is something I hadn't thought about - perhaps I can look into that.

Changedmename1234 Wed 23-Aug-17 17:16:09

Try asking in lone parents for tips.

Batteriesallgone Wed 23-Aug-17 17:16:49

It's not just the enjoyment it's the long term employability etc. There is a LOT to be said for keeping your job if you can afford it.

I've never felt tied to a job and wanted to be a SAHM but it's really not a stable position, or something I'd particularly recommend to someone who wasn't hugely enthusiastic at the thought.

Birdchangedname Wed 23-Aug-17 17:17:26

Similar situation here, but with the additional joy of the travel being ad hoc and often last minute.

We don't have a family support system so the only way we could make it work was/is for me to be a SAHM, and trust me, that decision has bitten me on the arse.

Now trying to build up work which I can do around all this and children, luckily I have a skill set which enables me to do that.

Fancyacuppaluv Wed 23-Aug-17 17:19:30

It seems like a logistical nightmare but it is doable. When school starts, could little one go to the breakfast club, or does the nursery your youngest go to do school drop offs and pick ups? So you're at least able to get to work on time.

I also suggest talking to your employer and agree up front flexible working, or the option to work from home when the DC's get ill. My company agreed to the first 24 hours off for free as it were, then I'd take a half day holiday and work half day hours over the full day (allowing time for caring for sick dc) for each day dc were ill. By agreeing up front how to manage those days where the DC's need you at home, just takes the stress out of it when you have to.

I can also recommend from experience, an after school nanny rather than after school clubs and the cost wasn't that much more than both of them going to after school nursery care. We found ours through care.com. Our DD's were collected from school and ferried to various activities before being taken back to our home. By the time I would get in from work, they had had their dinner and just needed a bath etc.

Good luck with it OP! flowers

grobagsforever Wed 23-Aug-17 17:19:55

Part time nanny. One with own child will be cheaper. Don't even consider trashing your career just because your DH has taken all the flexibility for himself. Protect your financial independence, always and without question.

BenLui Wed 23-Aug-17 17:20:35

I have done this, worked full time with a DH who was often away and DC.

I didn't plan anything assuming that he would be there.

So extracurricular activities would only be set up if I could do everything on my own or could organise a lift share with another family.

My job fortunately allowed me to log in from home so if I had to walk out on the dot of 5pm to get the children I'd log in again after they were in bed to finish up.

Regarding food, I meal plan on a weekly basis so could generally be flexible. I tend to batch cook (making good use of my slow cooker!) so I'd just pop extra portions in the freezer.

It is hard work and my DH was always very appreciative of my support and made sure he pulled his weight when at home.

He also took on all the administrative stuff while away e.g. A person sitting in a hotel room and research and book holidays, car insurance, budget, pay bills etc just as well as the person at home.

allinclusive Wed 23-Aug-17 17:21:54

I'm in a sort of similar position - my husband travels a bit and works late often as well as lots of day trips abroad etc. I have to manage all the child care basically.

It really depends on what your career is. I work 2 days 9-5 and then am allowed to catch up time off during school hours but I have a childminder who works 7:30-6 and I have to use my annual leave when she does as well as every holiday club that's put on for the days that I do work.

There are some nurseries that offer wrap around and holiday care as well as take the kids to school, so that might be an option as school hols are a nightmare if there's only one of you.

I have to do some witchery sometimes with my diary. Lots of working through lunches, begging for swaps and that's why I can only commit to 2 days but am available to do more during school hours if I'm needed. I do all drop offs, pick ups, school stuff. My husband attends parents evening and sports day.

You could also look into sharing a nanny if there's anyone that would work with.

tinypop4 Wed 23-Aug-17 17:29:22

I am a teacher allinclusive. I started the job in May, and I'm going back next week - dreading it as DH will be away the first two weeks of term, DD doesn't start school until mid September as it's a staggered start in recpetion. DS goes to a nursery which is the easiest bit of it all. I've got a lot of kind friends who are looking after DD while I go back to work and before she starts school, but obviously this isn't a long term thing.
Over the summer holidays the head of my school announced that the teachers are now required in by 8.30 instead of the old 8.50. DSs nursery doesn't open till 8 and then I have a commute which isn't far but more traffic heavy than I anticipated so not sure how I'm going to be on time. When DH is home, he works close to our house so he can drop off DS at 8 and still be at work on time but when he's not around - which is way more than it used to be - I am running out of ideas.
It's just so much more of a headache than I anticipated I just feel really miserable and stressed. I was so looking forward to getting back to work after a long break, but it's becoming really hard.

Birdchangedname Wed 23-Aug-17 17:30:27

Amazon Prime is your friend!

Get as much stuff delivered as you can, I have subscriptions for loo roll, dog food etc.

Get comfortable with saying no to stuff additional admin, but also say yes a lot. I got into a fud where I thought I couldn't go to parties solo, clearly that is nonsense.

It is possible. And enjoyable.

grobagsforever Wed 23-Aug-17 17:39:40

OP this is mad. DH has a right to request flexible working. There are very few jobs where some changes can't be made, especially if the employee is valued. Make him at least ask the question. Can he reduce travel by twenty five percent? If not, what changes do the organisation need to make to allow this to happen?

I'm not talking out of my arse I promise. I'm a widowed parent in a demanding consultancy role. So I cut my travel to essential only. And I know many others widows of both genders who have done the same. But your DH has to be willing to actually ask! Jobs can always be tweaked.

juneau Wed 23-Aug-17 17:48:24

I would get a local, live-out nanny in your situation. I have several friends in the same position as you and this is what they have. An au pair is limited in the hours s/he can work, but if both your DS and DD are at school and nursery FT it might work. It is galling to work and end up making nothing, but keeping your career ticking over through the early years is very wise. So many women (myself included), did not do this and find ourselves unemployable after several years at home. If you do decide to give up work for a while you need to bear this in mind.

DandelionAndBedrock Wed 23-Aug-17 17:48:57

OP, I don't have children yet, but I am a teacher with a frequently absent partner and I take my hat off to you. It is pants. I completely agree with just planning for him to not be there (if DP says he will be home for dinner, he is told to bring the food for both of us with him or order a takeaway. I got fed up eating his uneaten dinner for my lunch the next day). YY to online shopping and a cleaner. Ours does extra shifts when I start to get overwhelmed with everything.

I think you really need to think about a way to find extra support; if nothing else, what will happen if one of the children is ill and needs the day off?

The other thing about having extra support, particularly someone like an au-pair who would be around a lot, is having someone to provide a bit of (relaxed) adult conversation. I know you work with adults but if your school is like mine, there isn't much time for sitting down with a cup of tea for a fifteen minute catch up. It can be lonely when other people are jetting off and you need to make sure you are looking after yourself as well as your DC.

Does he book his own travel? If not, ask him to get the person at work to cc you on travel plan emails. Quite often I find out 15 hours after DP because he hasn't been home yet, or thought to tell me. Doesn't stop him going, but gives you a bit more notice to get things sorted.

juneau Wed 23-Aug-17 17:49:23

Also, if you get a nanny you can take your DS out of nursery, so you can deduct that expense from your outgoings.

teaandakitkat Wed 23-Aug-17 18:24:22

I just don't work much. My dh travels a lot and at short notice. I only work 10 hrs a week flexibly. I couldn't manage any more.
Sorry, that's not very encouraging. I fill my time with other things, bits of volunteering in school, that sort of thing. I don't mind though, we have a good life on the whole.

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