AIBU...to still be seriously considering going back to work FT in an actual office and getting a nanny?(93 Posts)
For 3ish days a week (more if I can) I try to work from home, so that I can spend time with my small children and DMiL who is wonderful with them. Great. Except, it doesn't work.
I was on a conference call last week discussing a horribly tricky technical issue which needed my full attention, and I had DMiL popping in every few minutes throughout the 2 hour callto ask if I wanted tea, biscuits, coffee, milk, sugar, to look at DS' drawing, for DD to show me her new toy which I bought so have obviously seen before, if I wanted egg or tuna sandwiches, if it was ok for the kids to touch my 6foot + harp - NO! She doesn't seem to have grasped that if my office door is closed I really need some peace, even though I've explained a million times and I normally have it open and don't mind a bit of chatting and helping her out with washing up etc etc.
She means well but it's an absolute nightmare and I'm working until 3am most nights to cover off the stuff I can't get done with her flapping during the day so I'm now really tired and really stressed and working all over the bank holiday weekend and generally feeling like having a rant. DH is working more than ever also so I feel responsible for being around in the week, but we have broadly the same job so it's tough.
I'm seriously thinking about getting a nanny and going back to working in the office as it would mean a clear distinction between work and home, spending time with my family or at work without this horrible blend of the two, but it's a commute and I'd be looking at 10 hours at least in the office. I'm not sure it is the best thing for DCs though: DMiL is absolutely fantastic with the twins and a good, wise role model for them. She's energetic, takes them to the park etc and we really enjoy our lunchtime strolls together which I think is real quality time during the week. DM would be horrified and I'd never hear the end of it and I'd probably cause a massive rift in my family for being some evil career woman and not caring about family etc etc etc and I suspect DMiL will be privately angry but more than anything very hurt which I really want to avoid.
I have no idea how to handle this situation but something needs to change here because my head is going to implode. I couldn't reasonably expect DMiL to have the children full time, and when I do make an appearance at the offce DH finishes to collect them and then works in the evening. He completely understands the situation, and knows why I'm stressed and the pressures I have at work but at the same time we have this massive issue with our mothers meaning we are effectively keeping them happy but having a shite time ourselves. A friend helpfully suggested we move house...!
I think nanny plus mil at her leisure is the ideal solution actually. Looking after two little ones all day is a lot to ask of your mil, and the nanny would give her some adult company as well as freedom.
I don't think you are remotely ungrateful, but it's clear MIL isn't coping on her own/ My mum does, if I am working from home and she picks up the children from school, or cares for them the day (when younger), she did not disturb me ever (except perhaps to say I'm popping out) and she did not allow the children to disturb me, just as I don't allow this when my husband is working and I am doing childcare.
But, for whatever reason, your MIL either can't or won't have sole care and wants to basically care for the children with you there too, so that's not possible. You are not being ungrateful as I suspect, given money is not a massive issue, you don't actually want her to be the proper childcarer and would rather just hire a nanny. If that is the case just go ahead and do it, but say she can come round 1 or 2 times a week.
Also- put a notice up on the room 'do not disturb' and explain to her what that means.
Finally, you are going to have to get over your desire to please the MIL. You are too afraid to hire a nanny and to run your life the way that is best for you in case they think you are a nasty career woman? Tough, you are a career woman and it is none of their business. You can't work and care for children at the same time, I would set up office hours at home or in a nearby office. But don't be up til 3am doing work because MIl keeps interrupting you with pictures the kids have drawn- this will not be good for the children in the long run. Stand up for yourself, they don't have to like it but they do have to go along with it if they want to be part of your family.
Office space is surprisingly cheap, even in (gasp) London. My friend rented an office in hackney, which was big enough for five people, for about £300 a month ( if that doesn't seem cheap, compare and contrast cost of childcare or residential accommodation). Also if you look around a lot of people will just rent you a desk in an existing office which would be significantly cheaper. I think that's a brilliant idea.
Failing that, OP, I suspect you've made a rod for your own back by allowing MIL to show you DS' latest masterpiece when you're 'not busy'. I think it's unrealistic to expect her to be able to discriminate (especially as many people think home working = dossing anyway). I would say 9-12 and 1-4 or whatever - mummy is not be disturbed unless it's a medical emergency. Otherwise you will never achieve the flow you need to go your job well!
Hmmmm I think you should be very careful before offending your nice MIL, because a nanny doesn't love your children as much, especially important for the smaller ones. My dd doesn't have any close family involvement apart from us and while nannies are better at respecting boundaries, I feel you haven't tackled your mil about it properly, she doesn't seem unreasonable. I think you ought to be able to agree a solution where you work in an office some of the time, you get a nanny part time and mil some of the time with whatever support she needs.
Thank you all, so much. It's so reassuring to hear that I'm not the only person who finds this challenging. On the face of it, this a childcare issue, but digging a bit deeper this is about my uncertainty/guilt over being a working mother and the only reason I am at home is because I didn't want to not see my children all day, or not have time for them because of work. This is not really working though because I'm walking round in a haze of self induced exhaustion and worry so something has to change, pronto.
NoSquirrels - you asked how we got in this situation and I had to laugh because I actually don't know myself. To précis (or not...), getting pregnant was an absolute 'mare and took a lot longer than planned - by which point, both of our careers had advanced significantly. On a purely selfish level I didn't want to give up my career because I'd spent such a long time throwing myself into it, and if I also work we can give our DCs more opportunities etc than we could on one salary. So the plan was originally that I would go back to work for 2 days per week, one in the office when DMiL would have the twins and one where I'd be more flexible at home and could help out.
DMiL was absolutely desperate to help out and DH & I made the decision based on her fab nature with the children, putting less emphasis on the practical stuff. I continue to feel bad because they are a handful - not naughty, but there are two small people with very different ideas and that would be hard work for anyone.
Anyway, part time is an alien concept in my particular area and it was a disaster. So I then had the
bloody stupid idea of working 9-12 every day from home to allow me to touch base with everyone and keep things under control. This doesn't work for a whole host of reasons, but particularly I think because the sector is so fast moving that the picture could be very different at 7pm than it was at 9am and there are a large number of people asking for/acting on my advice (which seems a bad idea given I can't even tell my MiL I need to get a nanny..!).
I was overly optimistic about my flexibility and what is expected of me but ultimately I made the choice to do this and need to make it work - I'm not having a pity party I just needed somewhere (hopefully) confidential to vent and figure things out. DH is 100% supportive of this choice and would be happy with a nanny too so I'll see if we can arrange something with DMiL's agreement - she can see I'm struggling because she is constantly trying to feed me!
Oh IHideVeg, I do sympathise. I work from home, I have part-time childcare around small preschoolers and I end up working into the night. But I don't have people dependent on me to be in touch every day etc, I work on a project basis and as long as it gets done i can, within reason, set my own hours and am my own boss.
It's exhausting. On weeks where I have too much work not enough childcare I would kill for a MIL nearer and the possibility of a nanny.
So go for it. I bet you will feel all the better for doing it, and DMIL will be fine about it. If in fact she originally signed up for 1 day a week, then going back to 1 day a week should be no problem, and you might find she's relieved to be granny not nanny. Could she do that one day at her house? Then get a nanny in for 3 days a week, and take Fridays (or whatever) off for yourself to spend really good quality time with the kids and have fun with them. That should alleviate some of your guilt.
And truly, don't feel guilty. Careers are hard to resurrect. You should not feel guilty for holding on to yours. There's all sorts of benefits to the whole family of you keeping working, and your DC sound like they are surrounded by love so won't suffer in the slightest. Your job sounds wonderfully flexible, so work smart not hard and you will be laughing.
i have to say, i don't understand why you let your mil interrupt you when you need quiet time. cant you just say, I'm a conference call, i cant be interrupted or ill probably get sacked, ha ha, ill shut the door now and let you know when I'm finished. if shes offered to care for the children while you work thats not happening at all,its more of a hindrance, and you need to change the way your mil helps you or change your childcare but its up to you to do this, your mil is not a mindreader.
sorry for lack of punctuation bloody ipad typing
It's not so much that I let her interrupt than she waltzes in beaming with the latest picture etc. It's sweet really, which is why I haven't told her to sod off, but it's seriously hampering my productivity. In the beginning I was finding my feet again post babies, but things have become more demanding with imminent deadlines and a bigger client portfolio. The children also want to tell or show me stuff and I'd hate to be shouty and pushing them away - there's a saying along the lines of if you don't listen to the little things when they are little, they won't tell you the big things when they are big (but way more eloquently) and I try to go by that. Trouble is, I'm more interested in who found a ladybird or made the biggest tower than my job and the sharp, assertive, pushy business me doesn't belong at home. Certainly if DH started speaking to me as if we were in a boardroom I'd want to throw something at him and/or get divorced!
'Working from home' when you have small children is such a nonsense, it just is not possible.
However, the other option isn't that great, either. I work full-time in an office and have full-time childcare. My DD is 6 months old and I probably spend less than 1 hour a day with her, I don't even think she knows who I am .
Can't you arrange for the kids to go to nursery one day a week, then blitz your workload then?
NoSquirrels - thanks for your post. It seems like one of those situations that silently grows and grows until it becomes unbearable but actually has a really simple solution. I do feel guilty on one hand, mainly because I worry I'm not there for/engaged with DC enough and that it is wrong to put my desires of having a swanky job above being a good mum. On the other hand though, I'm not sure that being a SAHM is in itself the definition of a good mum and that a working mum can be a good role model particularly for DD? And of course the financial side is fairly important too! My mother strongly disapproves of me working, as she feels a mothers' place is in childbearing/rearing/homemaking only which adds to my unease.
Would you mind sharing a bit more detail about your childcare arrangements NS? It's now gone 4am and I'm still working my way through emails/voicemails/ MN when it all gets a bit much. I am used to working very long hours, and I don't have a problem with it if I'm getting somewhere but I do have a problem with faffing in the day and then not going to bed because of it. I'm not exhausted because I've been working hard or running after kids all day - I'm exhausted because I'm being pulled in all directions and I want to do everything well, which just makes me really stressed. DH is forever telling me not to internalise all my stress, but I'm v guilty of this and I've got too thin again as a result.The "trying to be all things to all people" quote above sums it up really well, though DH and I are not spending much time together except from weekends. I'm going to have a good chat with DH tomorrow and try to make a decision or plan because this is beyond ridiculous!
Nursery. Of course. That gives the perfect excuse of "oh we'd like DD & DS to get to play with other children and will get them ready for pre-school". I have no idea why this never occurred to me but thanks!
Not that they don't play with other children...but in a non-playdate/softplay/park/organised hour long thing kind of way
I'm actually beginning to wonder if it's worth going to bed tonight...it's TEN TO FIVE IN THE MORNING HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!?!?!?!
Reading with interest as this could be me one day... am still on ML so my advice has the health warning that I've not been in this situation yet
Sounds like there are two possible options:
One, that you're working because of the previous time investment than because you really want to be working. The equivalent of throwing good money after bad perhaps. Do you want to be working for other reasons, or is it just that you feel obliged because you were working hard while ttc? The latter not a good enough reason imo.
Two, if work is what you want (and it's what I want so I don't mean that to sound judgey), ask yourself how you would deal with this situation in an employee. You sound pretty capable and I'm assuming you're good at your job , can you detach a bit and use that to help you implement some of the suggestions up thread?
I'm glad the nursery solution sounds appealing.
You do need to sort your workload out though, because it sounds as though this is about more than daytime interruptions. Because even if I had been interrupted twenty times through the day (and I frequently am, and work is even worse than the kids for this) I can catch up with a couple of hours blitzing. You've just done an all-nighter. So I am wondering whether or not you have taken on too much work at work.
I feel your pain - I have a great job that gives me the flexibility to work at home or the office. I love working in the office to meet with colleagues, bit of adult time and a chance to be 100% removed from the childcare. But equally love to work from home away from the annoying colleagues and sneaking some cuddles. I've been doing it for years now so the only thing I can say is it get ssignificantly easier once they go to school (or nursery) - you are then guaranteed a certain numbers of hours of peace.
But for when you are at home, especiallyin the early years. I found I had to start off very strict - 9am I was in the "office" door closed (locked if possible) and only if the house was on fire could I be disturbed. I then took breaks ie at lunchtime but then back to work. The structure helped me and to be honest the kids (without being all Gind Ford on you ). Took about 4 to 6 months of being really anal about it before everyone knew the score and now even when the kids come home from school - if the door is shut they'll wait. And to be honest if I'm not on the phone I can leave the door open these days and the kids wander in and out which was what I actually wanted in the long run.
Anyway long post - guess I just wanted to give you hope!
I would pack the kids to nursery a couple of mornings a week -- as you say to socialise now they are older. And then tell your MIL you trust her so much that the door will be closed and she's in charge (and if she even looks slightly aghast at this use it as a chance to change your childcare!!!!) Give it a few months of being really rigid about the time at home and hopefully it will be better balanced.
Hello fellow 5am-er!
I'm working for a combination of both I think. What I really wanted (and secretly wish I was ) was to be a professional musician, so this kind of career came as a bit of a surprise...I ended up doing a totally different degree and fell into it all but found myself really enjoying the work etc etc and I'm still in the same area now. Part of the reason is because I literally sold my soul to the firm I worked for in my twenties, but it worked and I became fairly senior fairly quickly. It was never a trade-off between kids and work, but it took years of trying from once we were ready and in that time I also got promoted. (I'm trying not to sound like an arsehole here, sorry!) I really enjoyed it - it was challenging but also interesting and great people and all the other cliches. The job can just about be done from home with the exception of client meetings, and while at times I do miss the whole office 'thing', it is really nice to be at home and I still pop in every week. So it isn't just about the time investment, but also about the actual work (not position!) now. I don't really have a firm plan from here though so i need to work on what I'd like to be doing in eg 5 years time and work back from there and see if this matches and whether it is worth it to reach that destination.
As for this situation in an employee, I would want to know and I'd want to support them by being flexible and making sure they didn't take on too much. So if they realistically had 4 days in which to work I'd be really conscious that they would need to have max. 80% of the normal workload by cutting down on volume rather than sacrificing quality/complexity. I'd also be looking at their eyebags etc to try and suss out how they were really coping and not just taking the stock answer of fine for granted.
Wuldric...you're so right. Between G&B's post and my reply I threw up. Not good.
Given you're already working a 50 hour week, it makes sense for you to make the working from home thing work but a ten hour day in the office can easily translate to 15 hours at home if you're not being productive, and you're not going to be productive working in the middle of the night, and with constant interruptions during the day.
It sounds slightly like you are giving mixed messages- i.e. being happy to work with the door open most of the time, half listening to what the kids are doing and "a bit of chatting", but then wanting privacy at other times. I think you need to basically hide away and say that you'll come and have lunch with them but that's it. That is likely to mean that MIL can no longer deal with them full time as she cant do the practical stuff, which probably points towards a nanny, with MIL there in a grandparent capacity (which would probably be nicer for her) or nursery (would MIL do half days?)
FWIW I can work from home but never do for exactly the reasons you mention. If I'm in the hosue, the DC (2.7 and 9mo) wonder why they cant talk to me, and I keep coming out to intervene in tantrums etc. If I'm not there, they're much more settled and I dont know about said tantrum so it doesnt bother me. However, I only live a 10 min cab drive from my office.
This isn't working and you need to change it. Pick something and try it. If it doesn't work try something else.
Anything is better than the current set up, honestly.
Can't your MIL look after the children at her house while you work productively at yours?
How about NOT working through the night, but get to bed early and get up at 4.00am or even 3.30am.
You will get twice as much work done in half the time, as you won't be exhausted.
I work from home 3 days out of 5 and when it works it's perfect. No travel/petrol/faffing about with hair and make-up. It's peaceful, productive and I see more of of my kids and often get a nice dinner going in the slow cooker etc. But my kids are at school. I could never work with young kids in the house. Even at 8 and 10 I pack them off somewhere in the school holidays.
Can MIL have them at her house some days (my mum does this for me in holidays)? I don't think you're taking advantage of your MIL either by the way, my mum was so upset when I looked at nurseries as she desperately wanted to care for my kids when they were little. Lucky, I know. Perhaps your MIL doesn't really understand the nature of your job? I also have to concentrate for long periods and couldn't be disturbed.
What I'm trying to say is the next few years will fly by and then they'll be at school and the whole wfh thing will really begin to show benefits. Don't feel guilty about working, it sounds lime a really rewarding hard won career that you'd regret losing in 5-10 years when the little ones aren't so little.
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