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Full time/part time work - lifestyle choice

(18 Posts)
LouiseofChalky Wed 16-Sep-20 11:12:00

I am hoping to seek some of your thoughts and opinions on the subject of work/life balance please. I’m not intending to be divisive, and certainly appreciate options like this may not be available to everyone, I’d just love to hear from other mums experiences and learn from advice.

I am currently on MAT leave but ordinarily work work full time and pay off a sizeable mortgage. What I am considering is whether if I move to a more affordable area I could possibly work part time and enjoy more time at home with the children (2&5months). I’m just wondering whether I should carry on working to stay where we are (I.e nice area, good location, schools, etc) or move and be at home with the children a little more before they start at school.

Has anyone else made this change? When do children need you to be at home most? Is it better to work hard now to be more present when they are teens? Sorry for the ramble I just have a lot to think about and it’s causing me quite a lot of anxiety as to whether I am choosing the best lifestyle for the sake of my children.

OP’s posts: |
happylittlechick Wed 16-Sep-20 11:15:14

I'd prioritise schools. If moving means the schools aren't as good I'd stay. If they are the same I'd move.

Where is the father in all this?

SarahAndQuack Wed 16-Sep-20 11:16:53

I may be naive but I'm not sure why this should be divisive?

Do you have a partner who has a view?

I ended up at home with my baby/toddler for quite a while, not through choice (I was job hunting), but TBH I think it was good for her, and when I did get a job my DP dropped down to part-time so she still got some time with us. We did move to a cheaper part of the country to make it work, and I think it was a good decision.

In an ideal world I'd have had the security of knowing I had a part-time job rather than nothing, but it seems that's an option for you.

I think the only concern would be, have you enough security if something goes wrong (eg., if you lose your job/your partner loses their job)?

With regard to schools - how much does it matter in your area? I know in some places it's really, really hard to find a decent school. In others, it's more a case of 'this one is nice and that one seems ok too'. If it's the latter situation, I'd definitely go with it.

Carrottop73 Wed 16-Sep-20 11:18:25

For me good schools would trump extra time at home for the few years before school.

Personal choice though.

ALLIS0N Wed 16-Sep-20 11:18:47

Reducing your outgoings to go part time only addresses the short term issue of living costs.

The long term issue is the HUGE impact on your career, income, promotion prospects and pension of

Taking two maternity leaves
Working part time
Doing less at work because you are doing nearly all of the housework and childcare ( I’m assuming you have a partner or ex who is the other parent of your children )

In your situation I would only reduce my hours if the other parent did the same . That way you can share the financial risk And both spend more time with your children.

Ormally Wed 16-Sep-20 12:04:03

I think it's easier, in some places anyway, to find a choice of pre-school age care which in some cases also goes through what would be school holidays, although expect it to take up a chunk of income. Through primary school it may be less easy (with before/after school care) and with hindsight I might have tried to choose the primary school with much more of the wrap around care serving it in mind, than I did, not just the 9-3.30 part. Also really consider how long a there and back journey takes to the primary as someone will have to be doing it twice a day. At the actual times when we go, ours takes at least twice as long as usual whether private or public transport.

I've had to change childcare arrangements about 2-3 times between the ages of 5 and 10 and input from grandparents has been very necessary, which looks a lot more unpredictable just at the moment. Sometimes it's fitted everyone's work really well, sometimes it was more like tap dancing on ball bearings.

JoJoSM2 Wed 16-Sep-20 12:56:35

I think it’s nice to be around for children. However, the move would depend on what area you could afford to live in and work part-time. Eg if you’re in prime London, then it’s a no-brainer as you’ll get the work-life balance but still have plenty of lovely but cheaper areas to choose from. It gets trickier if you need to move to a really cheap area which might have poor schools, issues with crime or sth else wrong with it.

LouiseofChalky Wed 16-Sep-20 12:59:15

This is all so helpful, and some useful things to think about.

I think the subject can be divisive especially at the moment when job security is lower than usual and I wouldn’t want it to seem like I am being flippant about the subject of money vs time with children- that can be very emotive, understandably, and especially where some carers don’t have that as a choice.

In our area schools are good, if we were to move then perhaps not so good, particularly secondary school options.

I would love time at home with my babies but I sense it would be of near term benefit and then in a few years I may think twice about that choice as I might want to increase my earning potential for pension, higher educations costs for the children (if that’s what they choose).

Father also works part time- he supports my view as I am the higher earner and mortgage payer.

I need to give some thought to what care arrangements may look like at school age, I naively forgot that 9-3 is not a full working day for me (with a commute too).

OP’s posts: |
BanditsBum Wed 16-Sep-20 13:07:34

Can you compress hours? Thats is what we do and it is the best of both worlds really although I am slightly less than full time so my days aren't too long but not so much as to notice it massively on pay.

JoJoSM2 Wed 16-Sep-20 13:31:15

Personally, I wouldn’t compromise on schools. Have you looked at the website below to see if the cheaper area has ok schools or if they’re dire?

Other than that, it’s probably worth doing the Maths. Depending on your pension scheme and when you started paying in, you might find that you’ll have a perfectly good pension even if working 3 days a week. Helping with higher education etc does require a bit of savings.

And yes, childcare costs don’t vanish when school starts as there are wrap around care and holidays to consider. However, if the father works part-time, perhaps you wouldn’t need to pay for much of it?

Speaking of being around for children, the really little ones do like their parents around. Teens want independence but being around can help keep them on track with homework or help get to activities etc.

purpledagger Wed 16-Sep-20 13:32:51

I think you have to think more long term, in your decision making. The early years are tough, but they don't last forever and things get easier quickly.

I found that my children have needed me more since they have started primary school than when they were preschooler. It's things like attending school plays, after school activities etc

I have always worked full time since having children. Not because i was bothered about my career, but because we had bills to pay and I'm the higher earner. As my career had progressed, my role had become less operational and it means I am able to work from home a bit more and just have a bit more flexibility. Also, by maintaining my career, it means we can afford things that we want and need as a family. I would really like to help my children with driving lessons, Uni, home deposits in the future.

I just think that you explore other options before you resign eg flexible working options, you or your partner retraining or working around childcare. You may well come to the same decision, but I you have more options than you think.

ALLIS0N Wed 16-Sep-20 14:55:28

Remember when you are more senior you generally have more flexibility, especially in a professional role.

Cleaners have to lose wages to take time off for a sick child or to se a school play. Senior managers “ work from home “ or rearrange outside meetings or client visits to suit.

That’s very Handy when they are school age.

happylittlechick Wed 16-Sep-20 20:14:54

Couldn't your partner go full time to facilitate you going part time. Or both go part time but say 4days each instead of you doing 3days?

LouiseofChalky Thu 17-Sep-20 20:45:23

I think both compressing hours may be a good option and working 4 long days a week, but at least the children will have primary carers around 4 out of 7 days a week. Does anyone here have a similar working arrangement? I’m guessing good time management and discipline is key to this working well.

OP’s posts: |
wegetthejobdone Thu 17-Sep-20 21:50:32

I think, as you said, its a lifestyle choice. If you ever, at all in your life want regular foreign holidays, a big house, new cars etc. then you really need to maintain your career and earning potential. Going part time and taking a job that suits school hours is probably a life long compromise. But, its a compromise I have made and am happy with. We live quite simply and will still manage to pay our mortgage off before we are 50. What kind of lifestyle do you want and will you be happy with? No one else can answer that for you.

JoJoSM2 Thu 17-Sep-20 21:58:06

Depends on your line of work and employer. I know one person who does compressed hours but for many people that wouldn’t be an option.

Dee1975 Thu 17-Sep-20 22:17:43

Can you save budget in other areas of your life to be able to work part time and stay where you are?

purpledagger Thu 17-Sep-20 22:22:48

I worked compressed hours.

The advantage was that I had a day off in the week to do the school run/spend time with the children. Plus saved on childcare.

Disadvantage - my commute into Central London meant I didn't see see them much on the other 4 days, didn't save on commuting costs on public transport as essentially the 5th day is 'free'. I also couldn't do anything in the evenings because I didn't get home until about 7:30. The. Biggest disadvantage was being constantly knackered.

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