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to ask how you juggle schools/childcare if you have a high powered/busy job?

(82 Posts)
suebfg Mon 18-Mar-13 21:22:48

I work part time at the moment but may have to go full time soon. DH's job often takes him away from home and I don't know how we'd cope with the school runs if we were both working full time (other than having DS in breakfast and after school club every day of the week).

How do you cope? I have no family locally to help out sad

BiddyPop Wed 20-Mar-13 13:55:10

I've only read the first few posts, but we were managing with fulltime creche (near both our offices) when DD was preschooler (so she commuted with us and we alternated doing drop off and collection, mainly DH dropping and me collecting but changing if 1 needed to stay late/arrive early on occasion). It meant we both had a chance to do extra hours if need be and we both brought work home on occasion too (and were lucky to be able to juggle diaries on most occasions she was ill, although there have been occasions where DD came into city centre bundled up in jammies, swopped car (or finisher hopped in while starter was on public transport later) and came home again for afternoon with other parent if time between meetings was short).

When she started school, DH continued to drop (getting in a bit later but staying later in evenings) and I generally manage to get back to the afterschool club in creche near home on time. I have numbers of all neighbours, few relatives nearby, and a few of DD's classmates' Mums too now in case of dire emergency - which we've used once in 3 years.

Both of us have had to do meetings overseas on occasion in the past, both pre and post DD. Generally it's 1 or the other travelling at a time (we seem to have opposite cycles, TG). DH is just as good with DD as me so either being away overnight or for a couple of nights is ok.

When DH started travelling 2 years ago for longer trips (1st was 4 weeks, most are 2-3 weeks since, with the same at home) we got an au pair to do mornings. This has evolved a little so the AP now does school drops but also collects from creche twice a week and from school twice a week (to allow afterschool activities in school, which we couldn't otherwise). I still collect from creche once a week.

What is ULTRA important though is that we keep each other informed of events and needs, and the diary on the kitchen counter is kept full with things that impact on household life (like DH going to a lecture tonight, or me needing to stay late for meetings next Monday, or dentist appointments that one of us needs to cover). And our electronic diaries also need to be kept up to date, but the kitchen one is the bible checked every night for tomorrow. As soon as notes come home, from whatever source, and for whoever, they get written in.

And being organised enough to have emergency dinners in the freezer, jars of sauce to make a fast dinner, know the nights you will need to get a takeaway (and refuse to feel guilty about it). So DD has swimming class late on Wednesdays, so she has an M&S kiddie meal or a HM meal from freezer as soon as she gets in (I try to have one that is oven-heated, so I can set it up to be ready when we walk in, otherwise microwaved type), we eat something simple to prepare either prepped as she eats and gobbled as she finishes, or once she's in bed. But on Mondays, I will have a good HM meal that I've made on Sun afternoon while doing roast dinner to just reheat the sauce and cook pasta/rice or potatoes as needed (turn on pots dinner), with a second half of that sauce frozen for another Wed or similar night. While we generally have a fairly healthy diet, we also use convenience things and know plenty of short cuts for the times they're needed.

Household must be organised, and also have my points that are important and others not (so I wash lots and throw the dry things into a basket during the week - so they are clean if needed urgently - but I only fold and iron at the weekend). And once we can find things, and are generally neat and tidy, with important areas kept clean always (kitchen surfaces, bathrooms etc), I don't worry too much about a bit of mess and dirt.

Holidays are a combination of creche, other camps at school and elsewhere (sports centre, sailing school etc), and DH and I taking our leave to suit school holidays. Not cheap, but DD seems generally happy and we've both been able to continue with our careers so far.

The one trip I had while DH was away, PIL came to stay for 3 nights (I was away 2 and v late home the 3rd) as it would have been too much responsiblity on AP. They were delighted (they live 160 miles away, as do my parents) - but it is a rarity that we call on them like that.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 20-Mar-13 13:19:26

Agree lljkk - 8-6 is standard round here for CM, though mine has done the occasional extension till 7pm. She has her own (young) kids to feed, bathe etc so wouldn't ask her except as a one off.

lljkk Wed 20-Mar-13 13:10:57

Those of you with CMs who work before 7:30 & after 6pm; where do the CMs live? Is this just a London thing, maybe?

My parents had a nanny-housekeeper for me; she never worked outside of 7:30-6pm, either. My parents stopped work by 5:30pm (plus some on-call duties a few times a year). They would have thought it outrageous to work longer hours.

Makes me feel better when I try to explain to my dad how difficult childcare is in the UK.

lljkk Wed 20-Mar-13 13:06:58

Most of what's said here applies just as much if you are in a low power boring job, juggling childcare & work can be very stressful. And it's even harder to get the flexible childcare on a low income.

MrsSchadenfreude Tue 19-Mar-13 22:14:56

I have found that it gets harder rather than easier as they get older, as in what do they do in the school holidays/after school? After school has resolved itself; my two have been "commanded" (by the school) to attend homework club two nights a week. DD1 is sports mad, this takes care of at least two more nights, and she is hoping to fit in the school musical somewhere along the way too. DD2 does art after school one evening a week, and comes home normal time on Monday and Friday, which works well.

School holidays take a bit of planning, but they are happy to go, either together or with friends, shopping, to the cinema, swimming, roller blading, out to lunch/dinner, meet me for lunch and then play tennis in the afternoon at my office in the summer. Unfortunately their summer holidays are 10 weeks long, and we usually hit "I'm BORED" about six weeks in. At this point, they go and stay with Granny and Grandad in the UK for a couple of weeks!

Doshusallie Tue 19-Mar-13 21:31:15

I work full time in a high pressure sales job in a large IT company. I am lucky in that I have a home based contract so I can take my boys to their (2 different schools) in the mornings, attend school plays/assemblies/sports days by juggling my diary. I have an amazing cm that picks them both up, allows them to attend clubs and picks them afterwards, gives them tea. I collect them at 6, and take onto beavers/cubs, or home for homework and reading, depending on they day of the week. Dh will collect and take them to football one night a week.

Because I have some flexibility on where I work I can do some washing during the week, fit in the food shop etc. I have a cleaner and I send my ironing away.

nokidshere Tue 19-Mar-13 20:43:06

I have teenagers come to me smile they just like having someone to hang out with and get fed! In the holidays they do their own thing but use my house as a base.

INeedThatForkOff Tue 19-Mar-13 20:33:32

What about younger teenagers? Not that my job is high powered grin but it is demanding, and I think ahead to the difficulties we'll meet when the DCs are in school. I wouldn't want a 13/14yo to be home alone each evening, but I imagine by then that they consider themselves too old for childcare!

nokidshere Tue 19-Mar-13 20:30:14

I am a childminder who works whatever hours I am needed. My day generally starts at around 7 and ends at 6ish. But I work later if required, sometimes up to 8pm. I do not charge late fees and I feed all the children a home cooked 2 course meal at 5pm. I have some of the children on inset days and during holidays.

You need a good, flexible childminder!

scottishmummy Tue 19-Mar-13 20:13:30

Its about finding an arrangement that works,and sticking to it
i dont know anything about au pair,how it works or the remuneration
tbh we've done this for so long dont know it any other way.but nursery easier than school

hermioneweasley Tue 19-Mar-13 20:13:05

My partner does all the Childcare - I couldn't do my job without her enabling me to be flexible. A friend of mine where they both have high powered careers and 3 kids has a full time nanny, although the kids are school age. Another friend does it with an au pair and much juggling/guilt.

chandellina Tue 19-Mar-13 20:10:17

I'd try to line up a flexible nanny who would reduce the daily rate to reflect the free hours. Or pay full whack for a nanny - housekeeper.

bringonyourwreckingball Tue 19-Mar-13 18:51:07

I have a fabulous childminder. For me the advantage of her over after school club is that it's a more personal relationship. The group of kids are almost like a big family,they look out for each other at school and my childminder does little things like signing me up for a late parents evening slot before they all go which make life just that little bit easier. She's generally very understanding about my occasional unavoidable lateness when I get stuck in the office. Also my kids are more likely to tell her if there's been a problem at school eg falling out with friends than they would the after school staff. I do use after school once a week as my childminder doesn't work Fridays and I like to have the access to holiday club. Ultimately though I do have to leave the office more or less on time and have had to curtail my career as a result. If you want real flexibility I think the only option is a nanny. I didn't want to go down that route but my career has massively suffered as a result and I do sometimes regret that although I love the time I get with my girls.

lljkk Tue 19-Mar-13 14:05:06

Who has CMs who will work before 7:30am & after 6pm!? (well done you).

3 DC are having tantrums about the mere prospect of going to childcare club, sigh. They don't like prospect of CM any better.

rottenscoundrel Tue 19-Mar-13 13:36:38

I am separated from dh now and have a full time ridiculous responsibility/hours job but have a nanny who I could not cope without even though the children are far older (yr 6 upwards).

willyoulistentome Tue 19-Mar-13 13:32:12

DH kids (+liftshare kids) to school 3 mornings per week and starts and finishes late. Two days per week the liftshare friend takes the kids to school. DH waites for her one morning..and starts and finishes late.
I start work at 08:00 every morning - three times a week in the office - twice a week from home. I wait for liftshare to pick up on fridays - while logging on.

I finish work at 14:30 three times a week and 5pm twice a week. DH picks kids up from school once a week on the day he works from home, and waits for me to get back and then carries on working. Grannie picks up once per week.

Phew - I bet that totally outs me! Nobody else can possibly have it so complicated, can they?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 19-Mar-13 13:26:17

Las, a lot of after school clubs have a homework area, which may be specifically supervised depending on staffing.

Sue, can your DH put in a flexible working request?

If you get a new job, you can put in such a request after a while.

Lasvegas Tue 19-Mar-13 13:06:05

I think Nanny is better than afterschool club. Child can hang out in home environment which I think is more relaxing. If you choose the right person Nanny can do a bit of housework, if child is of an age when they don't need 100% supervision. e.g unload dishwasher, put sausages or ready meal in oven so its ready when you come home. Also give child a bath, supervise homework. i have found extending my cleaners hours worked better than a 'proper' nanny. As cleaner had grand kids of similar age to my DD so may not have had NVQ's but qualified by experience.

Artichook Tue 19-Mar-13 13:05:26

Bonsior - you accuse me of referring to a "dream scenario" in having a nanny. I agree it is a dream scenario, I acknowledge that we are blessed in my post. However, I don't think my post was out of place as the thread title asks about people returning to high flying careers. I beleive that most women who see themselves as having a "high flying career" could afford a nanny if they want to prioritise childcare above other things. Neither me nor my husband earn really big salaries, we live in London and have a huge mortgage, yet me can afford a nanny because we choose not to have a nice car, flash holidays, great gym membership etc.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 19-Mar-13 11:35:04

Breakfast club and after school childminder who also covers INSET days, holidays etc.

If you go for after school club, how will you cover holidays?

wordfactory Tue 19-Mar-13 11:27:52


My firends who have continued in their careers, nearly all have a great one.

Sidge Tue 19-Mar-13 11:21:22

I don't have a high powered job and don't work full time, but my job is such that there's little flexibility and no wiggle room in my hours (I'm a practice nursing sister so have my own clinics which are booked days and weeks in advance!)

I'm also a lone parent of 3 with no family nearby so rely on my fantastic flexible childminder for after school and holiday care, and breakfast club for the days I start work early.

Some benefits of working full time are that you're all out of the house all day so less housework to do, and I think you appreciate the quality of time with your children more than the quantity.

eeyore2 Tue 19-Mar-13 10:59:38

Look into an au pair / nanny. Speak to some agencies or talk to local mothers with nannies. You may be surprised at how the price compares with other forms of childcare, especially if you have more than one child. Where I live I have also noticed a lot of nannies who work very flexible hours, e.g. only after school and school holidays. These nannies will often prefer a full time job but this just means you need to be prepared for the arrangement not to last for ever.

FreckledLeopard Tue 19-Mar-13 10:55:16

Au pair. We've had three so far and getting another one in a couple of months. Lifesavers. And works out cheaper than breakfast/after school clubs too.

Chrysanthemum5 Tue 19-Mar-13 10:49:59

DH works full time, I work part-time, 3 days but spread over 4. DH does the morning routine and drop off after 8.15am. I get up, get ready, and go straight to work. I finish early afternoon, and do pick-up.

I've worked in this role for a long time, and they want me to stay so I was able to negotiate changing my hours. we're also fortunate that home, work, and school are all in a radius of a few miles so travel time is not long.

Realistically, I've made major career sacrifices to achieve this, but we wanted to be able to drop off and pick up so we had time for homework, activities, playing etc. It's quite a recent change. When DC1 was in early primary we used after school club etc., but it meant we were constantly stressed by meetings running late etc.

I don't know of any perfect solution. You do the best you can really

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